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Quantitative literacy (QL) is where critical thinking meets math literacy. Seen most frequently in freshman course catalogs, a QL class is designed to teach critical thinking when faced with statistics, graphs, personal finance, probability, and related math-related subjects.

Since there are very few areas of our life that math does not touch, you might find almost anything appearing in a QL course, but in general you can expect to see a segment on critical thinking, which will touch on logic and common fallacies; common methods of representing data, how they work, and how they can lie; an introduction to basic probability and statistics; an introduction to research methods; and an introduction to personal finance. I have an older textbook (2012), which also includes segments on graph theory, geometry, and voting and social change. These are apparently less common, and YMMV.

While this is an excellent idea, and should probably be a default course at some point in either high school or college, most of this information will be superseded if you take courses in any of the sciences (but also take an intro philosophy course, please). Unsurprisingly, there are many popular books (e.g. How Not to be Wrong, Damned Lies and Statistics) that cover a lot of the same territory and are more accessible. The benefit of a QL course is partially that it is guided, and partly that it is intended to be a more complete survey than most sources.


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