Many otherwise educated people suffer from innumeracy – mathematical illiteracy – of a greater or lesser degree. Simultaneously, our world is becoming increasingly data-driven and numerically complex. Making decisions about everything from student loans to vaccines to who to vote for in 2012 requires a foundation in logic and statistics that a surprising number of college graduates lack.
When faced with the results of a recent study or an offer for a "foolproof" retirement savings plan, the innumerate have two equally dangerous options: 1) blanket skepticism or 2) blind faith.
Finance expert Zvi Bodie's advice to young people, especially the mathematically disinclined, is to take personal finances as seriously as you take your health – doing your research and getting a second opinion whenever possible. Mathematician John Allen Paulos, who wrote the book on innumeracy, examines the issue and its consequences in depth. Emanuel Derman, a former Wall Street Quant, cautions against overreliance on mathematical models. And Big Think is eager for suggestions from/to the less mathematically inclined among you for keeping your financial life on track.