Useless Arithmetic

  • by Orrin Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis
  • Narrated by Gabra Zackman
  • 8 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This book shows that the quantitative mathematical models policy makers and government administrators use to form environmental policies are seriously flawed. Based on unrealistic and sometimes false assumptions, these models often yield answers that support unwise policies.Writing for the general, nonmathematician reader, the authors begin with a riveting account of the extinction of the North Atlantic cod on the Grand Banks of Canada. The book offers fascinating case studies depicting how the seductiveness of quantitative models has led to unmanageable nuclear waste-disposal practices, poisoned mining sites, unjustifiable faith in predicted sea level rise rates, bad predictions of future shoreline erosion rates, over-optimistic cost estimates of artificial beaches, and a host of other thorny problems.


What the Critics Say

"This is an easy and persuasive read." (New Scientist)
"This book is a welcome antidote to the blind use of supposedly quantitative models." (American Scientist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting, useful...but...

This book is fascinating for someone interested in the Philosophy of "knowing". Scientist are regularly trying to capture magnificently complex systems in mathematical models that are, at best, applicable within a small range of parameters. No big deal...scientists do that. What is a big deal is that politicians and regulators then use those mathematical models to make decisions in the real world. Some of those decisions have had tragic results. If that interests you (as it did me), please read this book. If not you'll be bored to death.
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- Bill

Interesting but a narrow focus

A much needed expose on the inadequacies of quantitative modeling for environmental systems. A lot of the subject matter seemed to have a narrow focus; i.e. hours of information on beach erosion was not what I expected. Disappointingly, less time was spent discussing climate models. When referencing figures, the robotic phrase "Please reference downloadable pdf from product page where purchased" occurs frequently.
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- 3.14

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-15-2008
  • Publisher: Audible Studios