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Old 26 July 2014, 06:12 PM
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Teacher Americans are bad at fractions

This from the NYT and I'd love to believe that it's true, but it does have
a certain UL-ish look to it. Can you check it out?

==============

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/ma...k-at-math.html

"One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred
in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger
to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the
A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests,
customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W
television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead
of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.

"Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why.
The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions.
And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed
they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they
pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a
quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3”
in “⅓,” led them astray."
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Old 26 July 2014, 07:04 PM
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I hadn't heard of anyone thinking ⅓ was smaller that ¼ but I can believe it. In 2007, the company that runs the UK's lottery had to withdraw a scratchcard game they were running because too many people were struggling with the maths involved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manchester Evening News
To qualify for a prize, users had to scratch away a window to reveal a temperature lower than the figure displayed on each card. As the game had a winter theme, the temperature was usually below freezing but the concept of comparing negative numbers proved too difficult for some. Camelot received dozens of complaints on the first day from players who could not understand how, for example, -5 is higher than -6.
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  #3  
Old 26 July 2014, 07:33 PM
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http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-dru...-burger-ripoff

Quote:
UPDATE: Elizabeth Green tweets that her source for this anecdote is Threshold Resistance by Alfred Taubman, who owned A&W in the 80s. Here's the relevant passage, after Taubman has called in Yankelovich, Skelly and White to figure out what was wrong with their burger:

Well, it turned out that customers preferred the taste of our fresh beef over traditional fast-food hockey pucks. Hands down, we had a better product. But there was a serious problem. More than half of the participants in the Yankelovich focus groups questioned the price of our burger. "Why," they asked, "should we pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as we do for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald's? You're overcharging us." Honestly. People thought a third of a pound was less than a quarter of a pound. After all, three is less than four!
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Old 27 July 2014, 02:46 AM
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Since the weights are before cooking a 1/3 pound patty might end up being less than a 1/4 pound patty after cooking.
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Old 27 July 2014, 03:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
Since the weights are before cooking a 1/3 pound patty might end up being less than a 1/4 pound patty after cooking.
Since they both are I'd like to hear your logic...
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Old 27 July 2014, 10:02 AM
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Well, you see since a third pound burger weighs more, it loses more weight, which naturally causes it to come out weighing less.
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Old 27 July 2014, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latiam View Post
Since they both are I'd like to hear your logic...
Differing fat content. If the 1/3 pound patty has a higher fat content it may well end up weighing less than the 1/4 pound patty after cooking. You eat the cooked patty not the raw one so weight after cooking is what matters.
Usually as the fat content of hamburger goes up the cost goes down. You could sell a 1/2 pound (before cooking) patty for the same as a 1/4 pound one if the 1/2 pounder was much higher in fat (say 20% vs 5%).
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Old 28 August 2015, 02:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryM View Post
I hadn't heard of anyone thinking ⅓ was smaller that ¼ but I can believe it. In 2007, the company that runs the UK's lottery had to withdraw a scratchcard game they were running because too many people were struggling with the maths involved.

Of course 1/3 is more than 1/4..and 30% is more than 40%.
Seriously though, I had a fellow student in Drafting/Design and Technology ask me what half of 1/8 is, I told her 1/16 and she insisted that couldn't be true because 16 is twice as much as 8. There is a certain logic to her ignorance.
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Old 28 August 2015, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillySee1 View Post
Seriously though, I had a fellow student in Drafting/Design and Technology ask me what half of 1/8 is, I told her 1/16 and she insisted that couldn't be true because 16 is twice as much as 8. There is a certain logic to her ignorance.
And that is why math education should include more than just knowing how to get an answer, but lots and lots of practice, converting math facts into charts, graphs, and other representations, and rote memorization of at least the core math facts required by the decimal system (such as the addition and mulitplication tables up to 10). Your acquaintance could probably have worked through figuring out that 1/16 was the right answer (like Plato teaching the slave to square 2), but in real life most people's math is snap impressions, and it would be helpful to the person and society if people could make better conclusions on such things on the fly (and recognize on the fly when something needs further thought).
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Old 28 August 2015, 05:26 PM
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As a kid who stuggled in grade school in with math, graphs and charts did not help me. I felt like I was being asked to memorize pretend systems in hieroglyphs that didn't have anything to do with reality. I needed the apple and marble demonstrations. Once I saw the practicality of math, the solidness of it, I believed it in. I even snuck into the kitchen to test the measuring cups. Before that I was a skeptic.
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