Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael

Partial Truths: How Fractions Distort Our Thinking w/ James C. Zimring

July 27, 2022


On this edition of Parallax Views, James C. Zimring, M.D., Ph.D., Thomas W. Tillack Professor of Experimental Pathology at the University of Virginia, joins us to discuss his new book Partial Truths: How Fractions Distort Our Thinking. Zimring is also the author of What Science Is and How It Really Works. This conversation was recorded on 6/21/22.

In this conversation Zimring explains what his book is about and how it deals with the ways in which fractional thinking shapes the way we think about the world. When we talk about fractions and fractional thinking in this conversation, however, we are not talking about solving math problems in an classroom or academic setting. Instead, as Zimring explains, we discussing our everyday usage of fractional thinking that we often take for granted. This fractional thinking is necessary, as we learn in this conversation, but also can distort our perception about a number of phenomena and issues. Among the topics covered in this conversation are:

- Fractional thinking and the moral panic around Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980s

- Fractional thinking and the blunder of the Iraq War during the Presidency of George W. Bush

- Fractional thinking and the strange story of a McDonald's burger

- New Age beliefs, spirituality, religion, and an on-air cold reading experiment

- Heuristics, the availability heuristic, and inductive reasoning

- A recent study by the Heritage Institute on Israel and China and the fault reasoning used in the study

- Big data and racism

- Information, p-hacking, selective reporting, and faulty academic studies

- The problems of science reporting

- And much, much more!

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