Junk Maths

September 10, 2009 in Math

Via Andrew Gelman, I've learned that the BBC has a radio programme (as they would say write) called More or Less which is dedicated to statistics. The first bit of the most recent one is called "Junk Maths" (and again, I wish I could have taken a class called "maths") with the following synopsis:

Spurious formulae - from the perfect joke to the perfect penalty kick - are used by PR firms to get their clients' products mentioned in the media.

Is it just a bit of harmless fun? Or pernicious maths vandalism?

Science journalist Simon Singh debates the question with Len Fisher, who pioneered the tactic with his formula for the best way to dunk a biscuit.

Essentially, the debate focuses on "why journalists love stupid equations" and whether the production of said equations is a legitimate pursuit of science.

Have a listen here.

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