Archive for August 13th, 2006

to hate or not to hate

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

There are those parties, where you are asked in the very first minutes of a small talk, what you do in your life. And if your answer is “I am a mathematician” then the reaction is usually rather passionate. Either you found some kind of soul mate, someone who understands or – and that happens very often – you are confronted with sentences like: “Ohh – really — I always hated math – I always had problems with the math!”. Now replace “math” with “law” in the last two sentences and look what you get….—OK -put that ittle joke aside- instead of lawyer, plug in: social worker, english teacher, baseball trainer etc. You will rather rarely hear: I was always hated social sciences, english, sport etc. , whereas for math (and physics) it is the generic situation. This is because in nowadays (western?) society it is too often a good thing to dislike math.
If you are on a party it is easy to deal with that disdain – either you stick to the math lovers or you take your revenge by “Oh you just had bad teachers – let me explain the addition theorem of trigonometric functions!” :O (yes this is a nerd joke — happened out of desperation :))

However if the open dislike of math is expressed by a public person like a politician or a journalist than this isn’t fun anymore, because it involves the development of a public opinion about an issue.