Telling a Story Through Numbers

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Whether it’s the casualty count in Afghanistan, the national deficit or the size of an earthquake – numbers help us communicate. But are telling the numbers the best way to tell a news story?

Kaiser Fung, author of, "Numbers Rule Your World," believes so. Numbers have power. On the other hand, James Geary, linguist, journalist, and the author of "Geary's Guide to the World's Greatest Aphorists," argues that words connect people to a story better than numeral facts. 

Guests:

Kaiser Fung and James Geary

Produced by:

David J Fazekas

Comments [3]

Trey from Detroit

Kaiser Fung is correct and the "writer guy"
is an ignoramus - specifically he's innumerate.

People try to avoid any math classes even when one or two are part of a graduation requirement?

The lack of adequate skill in arithmetic is
this country's second biggest problem. One
can NOT understand the technological and
interconnected world in which we now live
without understanding the numbers that
MUST be used to describe it, and a
democracy cannot function if its people
don't understand the issues!

If you don't believe it - just witness
that a few years ago, a tyrant got away with
launching TWO wars by promising the innumerate American populace that they wouldn't have to see with the costs on the public budget!!

Mar. 02 2010 09:56 AM
Judith Baumel from The Bronx

As the author of a book of poetry called *The Weight of Numbers,* I may seem already decided, but I'm still enjoying the fact that numbers and words "mean" in similar ways to me. I studied physics and chemistry in college and use the "vocabulary" of science in my poetry. Numbers and words accumulate, accrete, shift, are contextualized, and are both, at their base, symbolic systems.

Mar. 02 2010 08:18 AM
Valerie from Worcester

While a number or a set of numbers can quickly communicate a story, it is in the way they are presented that makes them tricky. Often numbers are couched in words and the story comes in a careful reading of the words in order to correctly interpret the number. My take is that numbers and words are equally important.

Mar. 02 2010 08:11 AM

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