Telephone Math: Lost in Translation

We’ve all been there before: you receive your phone bill in the mail and find some dubious charge. But as one customer found, it can be difficult to convince your carrier of the error when they do not understand the mathematics behind the mistake. Physicist Leonard Mlodinow uses an audio transcript of an actual customer service call to demonstrate how a tiny misunderstanding of mathematics can lead to significant monetary losses. Is this human nature or a glaring deficit in math education?
More from this series: The Illusion of Certainty

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

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