chapter  6
10 Pages

The Baffling Law of Benford

WithMalcolm E Lines

The origin of the unusual phenomenon to be discussed in this chapter is said to go back to an observation, commonplace before the era of the pocket calculator, that log tables in public libraries appeared to be dirtier at the beginning than at the end. Since the users of tables of logarithms do not usually read them like a novel, starting on page one, this can hardly be explained by the fact that these tables of numbers lack the appeal to grip the reader who therefore gives up before reaching the end. Presumably it must imply that the numbers which science or engineering students had to deal with tended to start with the lower numerals like 1 and 2 rather than with the higher ones like 8 and 9.