Numeracy

Numeracy is a term that emerged in the United Kingdom best described as "numerical literacy". In the United States, it is familiar to math educators and intellectuals but not in the common usage. Innumeracy is the absence of numeracy.

Numeracy is the ability to count, do arithmetic and have a general feel for magnitudes of numbers and probabilities applied in daily life. It includes the ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide two small integers mentally, and larger numbers with aid of a calculator. It also entails the ability to understand and compute using vulgar fractions, decimals, and percentages. More importantly it encompasses the power to make quantitative estimates of things and events.

Of course, numeracy is an acquired skill. An individual with no education (formal or informal) is unlikely ever to develop numeracy.

Innumeracy has been blamed for the consumer debt that is endemic to the United States, and the apparent general lack of basic mathematical sense among certain individuals. In the United States, even prominent and successful people will attest, sometimes proudly, to low mathematical competence. George W. Bush illustrated what may be mild innumeracy when he described presidential debate opponent Al Gore's presentation of objective fact as " fuzzy math" as well as when he said, "It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it" on May 5, 2000.

Pathological innumeracy, known as dyscalculia, is often associated with neurological lesions.

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