What does it all mean?

Please read the following

How much math do you really need in everyday life? Ask yourself that — and also the next 10 people you meet, say, your plumber, your lawyer, your grocer, your mechanic, your physician or even a math teacher.

Unlike literature, history, politics and music, math has little relevance to everyday life. That courses such as “Quantitative Reasoning” improve critical thinking is an unsubstantiated myth. All the mathematics one needs in real life can be learned in early years without much fuss. Most adults have no contact with math at work, nor do they curl up with an algebra book for relaxation.

Those who do love math and science have been doing very well. Our graduate schools are the best in the world. This “nation at risk” has produced about 140 Nobel laureates since 1983 (about as many as before 1983).

As for the rest, there is no obligation to love math any more than grammar, composition, curfew or washing up after dinner.

-G. V. Ramanathan

  1. Do you agree with the sentiments stated in the excerpt?
  2. Did you ask the people in your circle about their need for mathematics?
  3. So what problems does this present for mathematics?
  4. Do you agree with the sentiments expressed in here?

Infallible – I think not!

One of the great discoveries of the last half century was that of DNA. It certainly opened up all sorts of avenues for investigating human (and other species) backgrounds and activities. One place where DNA has begun to play a very important role is in the field of criminal prosecution. It is fairly easy in any brief period to find news stories discussing how DNA was used to assist in prosecution as in this one where DNA is seen as the key to solving more crimes. Conversely you can also find stories like this one about how DNA might be used to assist in determining someone’s innocence. We often seem to accept DNA evidence without question.

But what if that shouldn’t be so. According to this article from the Economist it’s possible that in up to 25% of cases the way the evidence is collected, and importantly the way it’s presented to the humans who have to analyze it. This raises important questions about the way we interpret information. A couple of questions that I had after reading the article:

  • Do we trust the ‘science’ too much?
  • How important is the human element in determining science?


Hedgehogs and Foxes

We often base our knowledge and beliefs on the wisdom and knowledge of others. In our modern world there has been a¬†proliferation ¬†experts talking to us via TV and other mediums. Here’s something to think about the next time you are listening to someone talk on TV. Are expert opinions all they’re cracked up to be? Is there a danger in listening more to the foxes than the hedgehogs?