I was just reading the thread comparing covid and tobacco, and it made me start wondering about the effect of statistical numeracy in general.
Personally, I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to these skills (but at least I am aware of this). I do regularly notice the difference in my impression when someone talks about a 3x increase vs a 300% increase, or 1/1000 vs 0.1%, etc.; and I often make a quick conversion in my head when it's convenient. I also know a few mortality stats by heart which I can use to very roughly benchmark certain claims I hear about risk and safety.
Frequently, when I practice this minimal numeracy, it is accompanied by a sense of futility. When the stakes mostly involve policy-making or group action, my own statistical literacy may be inactionable--it may make basically no difference to my life or the world. What matters instead is what sorts of political messages resonate with voters, or what sorts of heuristics will catch on, etc.
So to sharpen my question, suppose you went back in time 20 years, magically caused the whole world to be much more numerate, and then just lived normally for the next 20 years. What about this world, if anything, would be drastically different from our own world?
(For those who want to get serious about the hypothetical: Let's say that in this alternate world, a typical high school graduate in the US has been trained in the habits of mind outlined in the second paragraph. Let's also say that numeracy and literacy track closely--so in any given country, you would be just as surprised to witness base-rate neglect as you would be to witness an inability to read road signs. Feel free to ask for more details or to tweak the hypothetical yourself.)