13 May 2010

Are you smarter than a Fields medalist?

Take the Economist's numeracy quiz.

If you get all five questions right, you did better than Terence Tao.

The quiz is linked to this article, which states that people who are better at doing simple financial calculations seem to be less likely to fall behind on their mortgages.

Rather annoyingly, The Economist doesn't even tell you the names of the people who did the study. But it's Financial Literacy and Subprime Mortgage Delinquency: Evidence from a Survey Matched to Administrative Data, by Kristopher Gerardi, Lorenz Goette, and Stephan Meier. I will admit I have not read it, because it's 54 pages. (But yes, they controlled for income. My first thought was that maybe people who are better with numbers also tend to make more money.) Gerardi also writes for the Atlanta Fed's blog on real estate research.


Efrique said...

Well, I scored 5/5, but no, I am not even in the ballpark of smarter than Terry.

He's a good deal smarter than me, but, like anyone else, human.

[Just yesterday I made a dumb mistake taking a derivative. He'd have spotted it in an instant. Dammit, it was so simple the high-school version of me would have spotted it in an instant.]

We all make mistakes, and 5 questions is too small a sample for random mistakes to wash out.

One great thing about Terence is that he can publicly point out his minor shortcomings.

Pseudonym said...

I got 5/5. But here's the thing: Professional mathematicians are often some of the worst at basic arithmetic.

If you wouldn't get Caravaggio to paint your shed, you shouldn't get Terry Tao to balance your chequebook.