C100 - Numbers

Facebook Powerball Math

During January 2016, this image appeared on Facebook. It was liked by well over 250,000 people and had over 600,000 shares. It resonated with people, many of whom angrily thought that there should not be one huge Powerball jackpot but millions of smaller ones, each paying $4.33 million.

This math is wrong, of course. When you divide $1.3 billion by 300 million, the answer is not $4.33 million. It's only $4.33 - four-dollars and thirty-three cents.

This is clear proof that many people cannot comprehend large numbers. They're not clear whether billions or trillions come after millions or think that gazillions is a real thing.

This inability to comprehend large numbers is a significant handicap as a voter or politician. When the numbers are unclear, you're left with partisan rhetoric and ideology to sway your thinking and your vote.

These materials help to understand large numbers regardless of whether those numbers represent currency, people, miles in space, watts of power, the annual slice of the budget that pays for the military, etc. They also show how to easily perform arithmetic operations on large numbers to ensure that you don't make a huge mistake such as that Facebook/Powerball mistake.

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