Election '20 sparks numeracy programming in Schaumburg & Itasca

Because Tuesday, March 3rd features 14 states holding United States Presidential primaries, it is aptly dubbed "Super Tuesday."

On that same evening, a former longtime journalist holds a workshop at the Schaumburg Public Library to empower citizens to raise their mathematical literacy so they can more readily separate fact from fiction.

Starting at 7 p.m., at the Central Library, 130 S. Roselle Road in Schaumburg, Matt Baron will share "Navigating the Election with Mathematical Literacy." The session's objective is to help people better understand all the data contained in the stories that matter most to them, whether in the political realm or any other aspect of day-to-day life.

To register, go to

The library's timing is fitting, as March 3rd is the busiest, and potentially most influential, day in the 2020 campaign cycle.

A former reporter for Time, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune, Baron will peel back the curtain on how he has trained thousands of journalists and other professional communicators to use numbers accurately, effectively and responsibly in their story-telling. The Oak Park resident has an especially busy 2020 schedule, with the "Lies, Damn Lies & Navigating the 2020 Presidential Campaign Trail" theme taking him to 13 area libraries, so far, through October 1st.

After the Schaumburg session, Baron will be leading another numeracy program two days later. "Go Figure: Lies and More Lies, How it All Adds Up" will be at the Itasca Community Library, 500 W. Irving Park Road at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 5th.

To register for that session, visit

In the following Q & A, Baron elaborates on the perils presented by our individual or collective misuse or misunderstanding of all things mathematical.

Q: You have been delivering your numeracy program, "Go Figure: Making Numbers Count," since 2001. How does 2020 compare to that time nearly two decades ago?

A: Since the dawn of creation, distortion of data has been used frequently to spin a story one way or another. So, 2001 was hardly an age of innocence. But it has gotten worse, especially with the proliferation of social media and the blurring, even erasing, of what constitutes journalism.

Nowadays, "fake news" is misapplied too often to news that someone doesn't like, while propaganda all too often passes as legitimate news. The stakes seem to be rising higher and it's urgent that we recognize the ways in which data can be manipulated to deceive.

Q: Does someone need to be especially strong to benefit from your workshop?

A: Math is here to stay for all of us, regardless of our comfort or competence level. Whether someone is math-phobic or a math whiz, I love helping them turn on-or up-the calculator inside their brains.

Q: You often say math is "a ton of fun." Does that come through in your program?

A: From the very start, back in 2001, I realized that I needed a way to liven up what could come across as a dry, inaccessible topic. That is why I developed a quiz called "Golympics," which blends "Go Figure" and the Olympics. Each of the letters represents a math-related category-the "G" is "Great Moments in Numbers History," for example, and I usually have a question about flawed polling going into Harry Truman's 1948 election win.

Participants form teams, tackle questions from each category and the competition is very fun and, in a good-natured way, pretty fierce.

Throughout "Golympics," we build on principles that I cover earlier in the session. You learn much more when you're also having fun.

Q: What do you want people to get from the program?

A: I want to help folks sift through all the data we encounter, and distinguish between the significant and the trivial, to discern the factual from the fictional. It's a vital life skill that has a direct impact on so many areas of life. It feels especially crucial during this moment in history.

To learn more, visit See the "Go Figure" video here. You can also contact Baron at or call 708-860-1380.

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