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Books  •  E-Books  •  Podcasts  •  Apps  •  OERs  •  Your Reports

There are no problems, just pauses between ideas.

- David Morrell

Books

Factfulness

Factfulness book cover Factfulness by Hans Rosling and his family is currently one of the most important books in the world.

First, a bit of history. Hans Rosling presented two TED talks in 2010 about global population growth and global demographics. In 2014 he returned and presented about how most people are incredibly ignorant about what the world is really like and how it is changing, especially about population growth. He founded a website named GapMinder to work on correcting misconceptions based on outdated stereotypes..

The book Factfulness is his inspiring and enlightening finale. It has two parts.

First, it talks about many examples of how people and the planet are doing much better than most people realize. It uses charts and statistics but is quick to read and not burdened down by the math.

Factfulness book cover Second, and most relevant to our class, is the book's discussions about why most people are ignorant about those issues. There are Ten Rules of Thumb about how our brains naturally latch onto dramatic information instead of accurate information. Thus Factfulness is also guidebook for learning to use math to see the world more clearly, with better habits.

The first chapter of Factfulness is available freely online, from Bill Gates or this website.

Freakonomics

Freakonomics book cover Freakonomics (Revised and Expanded Edition) by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner has become the classic introduction to behavioral economics.

The phrase "behavioral economics" was invented because of two trends. It is a response to classical economics, which ignores how most shopping behavior is based upon loyalty to a store, brand, or habit instead of a fully-reasearched pursuit of the best deal. It also extends economics by looking at non-economic behaviors using classical ways to measure and discuss incentives, options risks, and equilibria.

Freakonomics is fun to read, and also helpful for learning to use math to see the world more clearly.

The authors host a main podcast and a question of the day podcast to continue sharing their favorite examples of behavioral economics.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

A Random Walk Down Wall Street book cover A Random Walk Down Wall Street (12th Edition) by Burton G. Malkiel has become the classic introduction to investing.

Although most students in a community college math class are not themselves doing much investing, a lot of them do talk with parents or grandparents about investing—or they know they should be having those conversations but do not yet feel ready.

This book explains why anyone can invest as well as the experts, including how your age and income should affect your investing strategy.

Algorithms to Live By

Feynman book cover Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths is a book about happiness through already solved problems.

The study of Computer Science has expanded far from its orginial scope of electronic calculations and simple computations. It now studies general issues about how to solve problems when you do not know all the information, when information is fuzzy, when there is random chance involved, or when new options appear as the problem develops.

Those are real-life issues too. In many fascinating ways computer scientists have mathematically solved all sorts of common problems. The answers they found can apply to the real-life issues everyone faces. The book shares these issues and answers in a very readable way, and might help you stress when you recognize already answered solutions to common everyday situations.

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

Feynman book cover "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman is a book about happiness through problem solving.

Many our classroom library books are "business books" of one kind or another. This book is not. It is purely about using math to see the world more clearly.

Richard Feynman was not the smartest mathematician or physicist at Los Alamos. But he was the most fun. His stories share his approach to life. He balanced practical jokes with gentle kindness, faking it to get ahead with up-front honesty, and most importantly focusing on problems as something fun to analyze and scrutinize whether or not getting a final answer was important or even possible.

Feynman approached personal decisions with behavorial economics, and he did it decades before that topic had been formally invented. No other math book has such fun stories about moving ants, cracking top-secret safes, or picking up women at bars.

Naked Statistics

Naked Statistics book cover The best introduction to statistics that I know of is Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan. This book calls itself a textbook but is easy to read.

Our class does a lot with the most foundational and basic statistics. The books above about behavioral economics do a little more with basic statistics.

But statistics can be interesting, helpful, and even awesome in its own right. It is not only a nice part of math because of our class topics and behavioral economics. This book shares how statistics can generally be useful and fun, and part of learning to use math to see the world more clearly.

Most statistics textbooks have a lot of math. There is a tradititonal set of stuff they teach, which involves many formulas, some of which are tricky. This is not that kind of book. The author purposefully avoids formulas to focus on the intuition that is developed by people who study statistics.

Moneyball

Moneyball book cover One of the most popular books about economics is Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

This book will be an obvious choice if you love sports. But it is not a book about playing a sport. It is about the business of owning and managing a sports team

With just the right amount of math it tells the story of when conventional wisdom was wrong, and using math to see the world more clearly not only turbocharged the Oakland A's but revolutionized that industry.

Priced to Influence, Sell & Satisfy

Priced book cover Priced to Influence, Sell & Satisfy by Utpal Dholakia is a great introduction to pricing issues.

A specific kind of behavioral economics is how to pick prices for retail or menu items. Everyone has heard about how a price of $4.99 appears to be a better deal than $5 despite a mere one cent difference. There are actually dozens of behavior issues about pricing. This book is very readable as an introduction to the topic. It remains clear, yet goes into many issues quite deeply.

During class we will learn the basics of markup, discount, and menu pricing. This book goes much further. It might also be more fun.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Game Theory

Game Theory book cover The Complete Idiot's Guide to Game Theory by Edward C. Rosenthal is the best introduction to its topic.

A deeper layer of behavioral economics is considering how your competitors are doing business. Not only will good decisions about pricing depend on your customers, they also depend on your competition.

The study of competitive decision-making is called game theory. Finding an easy to read book about game theory can be tricky. Most dive into complicated math right away. Yet this book is great. It teaches enough to be of practical help in business decisions, without burdensome math. Every topic is accessible, even if you skip certain extra-complicated parts at the end of a few chapters.

This book is not as fun to read as the books above, but might make a big difference in how profitably you run a business.

Markup & Profit: A Contractor's Guide, Revisited

Contractor Pricing book cover Markup & Profit: A Contractor's Guide, Revisited by Michael C. Stone is a specialized introduction to pricing for contractors.

A contractor's bid is like a small business plan. All pricing must consider materials and labor. But for contractors these can quickly get complicated in ways specific to the trade.

This book has a very specific target audience. If you are part of that specific target audience, its book report might be your most valued part of the class.

How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-based Medicine and Healthcare

How to Read a Paper book cover How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-based Medicine and Healthcare by Trisha Greenhalgh is a specialized book useful for nursing students.

Sometimes using math to see the world more clearly involves many specialized issues. This book goes deeply into which issues apply to reading medical papers. It is the most advanced textbook in our classroom library. Yet it could be worth the more difficult read by helping jump-start a nursing career.

It is is another book with a very specific target audience, and if you are part of that specific target audience then its book report might be your most valued part of the class.

A Billion Wicked Thoughts

Billion Wicked Thoughts book cover A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam is the world's most salacious book about data mining.

In 2010 two researchers decided that all academic research about human sexual behavior was stupid. It all depended upon surveys, and everyone knows that people lie like crazy on surveys, especially when talking about sex.

If someone wanted actual information about human sexual behavior they would need to look where people were honest. So Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam looked at anonymous data from internet searches (on search engines, dating websites, and porn websites). This vast amount of data is the "billion wicked thoughts". Then they did it again looking at sexy romance novels. What would their data analysis tools tell them about that type of titillation?

Unfortunately, in an effort to make their book as readable as possible, they spend very little time talking about the actual data mining. How did they dig through that immense amount of data to get their charts and rates? How did they deal with signal-to-noise? Which of the issues they discuss are most appropriate for data mined answers? Which questions have they answered definitively, and which are a stretch to try to answer using data mining?

So for this topic we need two books. Using data is an important topic. How to use data about sales can help a person run any small business.

Data Smart book cover The best companion book I know of is Data Smart by John W. Foreman. This book is a guidebook. Each chapter leads the reader step-by-step through a spreadsheet. It really demonstrates how small business data can be used to answer useful questions.

I hesitate to recommend this pair of books. I worry that A Billion Wicked Thoughts is long and full of numbers without enough actual math, and will waste time being entertaining and distracting. I worry that Data Smart will take many more hours to get through than a book you only have to read. However, a student who has a lot of time might have more fun, and learn more about how to run a business, from these books than any other book report option. But heed my warning that one of these books is barely a math book, and the other is actually a small math course.


E-Books

You can use your LCC e-mail and L# to log into the State Library of Oregon's downloadable math e-books.

There are some interesting titles, such as Practical Math Success in 20 Minutes a Day and Express Review Guides: Math Word Problems, that try to be interesting and efficient as they explain math fundamentals with their own voice.

That website has many other math resources. Look under three different "centers" at the upper menu. The centers named School Center, College Students, and Adult Core Skills all have different math resources appropriate to our topics.


Podcasts

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As mentioned above, the authors of Freakonomics host a main podcast and a question of the day podcast to continue sharing their favorite examples of behavioral economics.

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The Skeptoid podcast examines popular myths, using just enough math and history to clear up confusions.

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The Breaking Math podcast highlights interesting math news and applications without getting too deep into the math.

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The podcast This Week in Virology is timely and full of math.

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The podcast Brains On! does not always use math, but has some nicely mathy episodes.

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The popular Netflix show Adam Ruins Everything has a few old podcast episodes that involve math.

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The Adam who ruins everything has a second podcast named Factually! that so far involves little math, but might still be appropriate for our assignments.

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A group of teachers reflect in the podcast Math Before Breakfast.

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For seven years Jason Marshall had a fun podcast named Quick and Dirty Tips with short episodes (most only 7-8 minutes) about math tricks and techniques.

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The Math Ed Podcast interviews researchers in mathematics education.


Apps

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Bedtime Math for fun challenges ranging from trivial to tricky

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Photomath for arithmetic and algebra steps

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Microsoft Math for arithmetic and algebra steps

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Mathway for paid help with pre-algebra


OERs

Many textbooks are Open Educational Resources, which means that anyone can use them. They can be printed inexpensively, or used for free online. Some grant permission for instructors to modify them to best fit their classes.

Below are links to three OER textbooks that teach similar math topics to our first three topics. Seeing the same concepts explained in different ways can be very helpful!

College of Redwoods screenshot Prealgebra Textbook by College of the Redwoods is a pretty standard textbook. It has a consistent attitude of "here is a technique" rather than exploring concepts. The homework has answers for odd numbered problems. The first three chapters are a bit heavy on the "new math" of the 1960s rather than explaining with diagrams or arrays. Each chapter is a PDF file with a convenient table of contents on the third page.

OpenStax logo Prealgebra by Santa Ana College uses the nice CNX OpenStax website. It is a the friendliest of these OER textbooks, with very elaborate inclusion of Math 10 concepts. It has a good use of warm-up problems for each section. It helpfully explains the "language of algebra" before it discusses more advanced ideas such as simplifying terms. Note that the proportion topic (6.5) is hidden at the end of Percents chapter. Beware the awkward numbering of example and try-it problems.

Arithmetic book cover Arithmetic for College Students by the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education is decent, and also has a very elaborate inclusion of Math 10 concepts. Unfortunately, it is formatted as one huge PDF file and its table of contents lacks links. Neither example problems nor self-check problems are numbered well. This book likes to use parenthesis to show multiplication, as well as a grouping structure. Beware how it models the bad habit of neglecting to label with words the rates in proportions. Unfortunately, it uses the equal sign 905 times to mean "the next step in a process" before finally showing an equation as an equation.

Note that the § symbol means "section".

After opening the link, you might need to use CTRL-F to search for the section number. That will let you jump to the right place.

If searching with CTRL-F for the section number is not working well, try adding a space afterwards. That sometimes jumps to a section, rather than an example problem that happens to include a similar decimal value.

Shapeshifting

RoundingCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Decimal Accuracy Place Value in §1.1
Place Value with Decimals in §5.1
Rounding Basics in §1.1
Rounding with Decimals in §5.1
Place Value in §1.1
Rounding in §1.1
Place Value in §1.1.2
Ordering Decimals in §3.2.1
Rounding in §1.1.2
Rounding Decimals in §3.2.1
Estimating nothing for estimating nothing for estimating nothing for estimating
Fraction FormatCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Thinking About Division Division of whole numbers in §1.1 nothing for thinking about division Models of multiplication in §1.3.1
Representing division in §1.4
Divisibility and Factors Factors, Divisibility in §1.4 Finding Factors in §2.4 Tests of divisibility in §2.2.1
Desired Denominators Equivalent Fractions in §4.1 Ladder Factorization in §2.5
Reducing Fractions in §4.2
Reducing Fractions in §2.2.2
Comparing Fractions in §2.2.3
Fractions and Decimals Decimals to Fractions in §5.1 Decimal to Fraction Format in §5.1
Fractions to Decimal Format in §5.3
Decimals and Fractions in §3.1.1
Ratios and Rates Introduction to Ratios and Rates in §6.1 Ratios and Rate in §5.6 Ratios and Rate in §4.1
Percent FormatCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Decimal Point Scoots Decimal Scoots in §5.3 (awkward)
Decimal Scoots in §6.4 (much better)
Decimal Scoots for Powers of 10 in §5.2
Decimal Scoots for Powers of One-Tenth in §7.5
Decimal Scoots on Whole Numbers in §1.3.1
Decimal Scoots on Whole Numbers in §1.4
Decimal Scoots on Decimals in §3.3.1
Decimal Scoots on Decimals in §3.3.2
Four Replacements for % Percent in §7.1 Understand Percent in §6.1 The Meaning of Percent in §3.4.1
Percents, Decimals, and Fractions Decimals, Percents, and Fractions in §7.1 The RIP LOP Pattern in §6.1
Decimals, Fractions, and Percents in §6.1
Convert Percents, Decimals, and Fractions in §3.4.1
MeasurementCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Units and Their History nothing for measurement unit history nothing for measurement unit history nothing for measurement unit history
One Step Conversions Unit Conversion: American System in §6.3 Systems of Measurement in §7.5 U. S. Measurement in §4.4
More about SI Prefixes Unit Conversion: Metric System in §6.4 included above Metric Measurement in §4.5
Exponents and Square Roots Exponents in §1.4
Square Roots in §5.7
Exponents in §2.1
Square Roots in §5.7
Exponents and Square Roots in §1.5.1

Mad Science

FractionsCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Fraction × and ÷ Expressions Defined in §3.1
Evaluating an Expression in §3.2
Multiplying Fractions in §4.2
Dividing Fractions in §4.3
Multiplying and Dividing Mixed Fractions in §4.5
Expressions vs. Equations in §2.1
Multiplying and Dividing Fractions in §4.2
Multiplying Fractions in §2.3
Dividing Fractions in §2.4
Fraction + and − Equivalent Fractions in §4.1
Fraction Addition in §4.4
Fraction Addition in §5.5
Visualizing Fractions in §4.1
+ and − with Common Denominators in §4.4
+ and − with Different Denominators in §4.5
+ and − with Like Denominators in §2.5
+ and − with Unlike Denominators in §2.6
Mixed Number Subtraction Adding and Subtracting Mixed Fractions in §4.6 Add and Subtract Mixed Numbers in §4.6 + and − with Like Denominators in §2.5
+ and − with Unlike Denominators in §2.6
Order and Terms Addition and Subtraction in §1.2
Multiplication and Division in §1.3
Order of Operations in §1.5
Order of Operations with Fractions in §4.7
PEMDAS explained carefully in §2.1 Order of Operations in §1.5.2
Goeswith Chains nothing for connecting rates together nothing for connecting rates together nothing for connecting rates together
PercentagesCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Percent Of Find a Given Percent of a Given Number in §7.2 Solve General Applications of Percent in §6.2 Finding a Percent of a Whole in §3.4.2
Percent Change Find a Percent Given Two Numbers in §7.2 General Applications of Percent in §6.2 Solving Percent Problems in §3.5
The One Plus Trick Balance Formula Using Simple Interest in §7.5 nothing for one plus trick nothing for one plus trick
Simple Interest Interest in §7.5 Simple Interest Applications in §6.4 Solving Percent Applications in §3.6.1
MeasurementCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Unit Analysis Unit Conversion: American System in §6.3 Systems of Measurement in §7.5 U.S. Measurement — Length in §4.4.1
U.S. Measurement — Weight in §4.4.2
Polygon Perimeter and Area Area of Rectangle in §1.3
Area of Parallelogram and Triangle in §4.2
Area of Trapezoid in §4.7
Perimeter in §1.2
Area of Rectangle in §1.4
Perimeter and Area in §9.4
Perimeter in §1.2.1 and §1.7
Areas and Perimeters in §1.3.2 and §1.7
Other Areas in §1.7
Area of Triangle in §4.4.1
Circle Circumference and Area The Circle in §5.3
(hidden in the middle of the section)
Circumference and Area in §5.3
(also hidden in the middle of the section)
Geometry Applications in §9.5
Circumference and Area of Circles in §3.3.1
(yet again hidden in the middle of the section)

Justice

FractionsCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
One Step Equations Solving Equations in §1.6
Solving Fraction Equations in §4.8
Solving Equations with + and − in §2.3
Solving Equations with Fractions in §4.7
Solving Linear Equations in §8.1
Solving Linear Equations in §8.2
Solving with Equations in §3.5
Two Step Equations Solving Equations II in §3.5 Solving Linear Equations in §8.3 nothing for these
Proportions and Cross Multiplying Introduction to Proportion in §6.2 Solve Proportions in §6.5 Proportions in §4.2
Proportions with Variables Solving Proportions in §6.2 Solve Proportions in §6.5 Proportions in §4.2
Proportion Word Problems Proportion Applications in §6.2 Proportion Applications in §6.5 Proportions in §4.2
Scale Factors nothing for scaling nothing for scaling Proportions in §4.2
PercentagesCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Percent Sentences Basic Percent Problems in §7.2 Applications of Percent in §6.2 Solving Percent Problems in §3.5
Percent Word Problems Percent Applications in §7.3 More Applications of Percent in §6.3 Solving Percent Problems in §3.5
MeasurementCollege of the RedwoodsSanta AnaOpenText
Temperature nothing for temperature Systems of Measurement in §7.5 Temperature Scales in §4.6
Area Puzzles nothing for area puzzles Properties of Polygons in §9.4
Properties of Circles in §9.5
Shapes Build from Rectangles in §1.3.2
Variables and Negatives Variables in §1.6
Introduction to Integers in §2.1
Introduction to Integers in §3.1
Identity, Inverse, Zero in §7.4
Integers in §5.1.1
Variables and Expressions in §5.5.1

Your Reports

Book Report by Artsy Fartsy Mama

Your first report will merely be summarizing the first chapter of Factfulness.

Depending upon the grade you are aiming for, you may write other reports on books, podcasts, apps, or OERs. The ones listed above are merely convenient suggestions. You may use others if you have advance instructor permission.

For all these other reports, prepare by pretending you run a small business. It does have multiple items for sale. But it is so small it has few other employees, if any.

Culinary students could use a food cart, small restaurant, or small catering service. Early Childhood Education students could use a tutoring or home child care businesss. Nursing students could use a rural cash-only personal practice. Feel free to be creative, and even funny. Students in past terms have imagined themsleves doing everything from selling socially awkward hand-crafted goods to being a hit man.

Each of thse other reports needs: