"The future ain't what it used to be."

Why Math Is A Necessity


Super Moderator
A little piece of sagely knowledge to help people who "don't like math" why it will always be the discriminator of science, especially wild claims of extraordinary capabilities (such as time travel):

1) Only a tiny fraction of noumena are observed as phenomena,
2) Only a small percentage of phenomena are well-captured in language,
3) Only a small percentage of language can be captured in mathematics,

And yet - Within this tiny domain where mathematics is applicable resides:

Property descriptions and ownership thereof.
Commerce and economics.

In other words: MOST of what separates us from the stone age!

Kind Regards,
you forgot it's the only thing the aliens will send that we're gonna understand
Hi RainmanTime,

Boy, what a dig on people who don't like math!

I have pretty much forgotten everything I learned in regard to mathematics as a child. You know the idea, the more stuff you learn, something has to fall out of your brain to make room...

As a child I had a love affair with pure abstract mathematics. At the age of 12 I was sure I would become a mathematician, especially since my instructor thought it would be cool too. I stepped up a couple of grades in math, but then I decided it was meaningless unless it was in the abstract form. I didn't want to become an engineer. I hated building those damn bridges and doing those silly experiements in physics class. I just wanted to hear the ideas. And when I heard the ideas, I saw pictures, so I became an artist.

So, please, don't hold any prejudices against us who can't do math.

Best Regards
Hi Persephone:

Boy, what a dig on people who don't like math! (snip)

So, please, don't hold any prejudices against us who can't do math.
Not at all. Perhaps I did not make my intention clear in sharing this. Whether or not you like math, or whether or not you can "do" math, it is "unhealthy" to completely ignore math, especially when it comes to what you choose to believe about how the universe works. Math is one of the biggest arrows in the quiver of critical thinking. There is a danger (what I call the "gullibility factor") in a society where statistics show a reduced capability, and emphasis, on math. I have seen the effects of this slowly reducing the dominance of American technical know-how in the aerospace industry, among others. More and more managers are being empowered that not only do not understand math, but fear it. This leads such managers to rely on social and emotional factors to make key decisions, all the while ignoring scientists/engineers who are warning them with solid mathematical evidence. Sadly, we have buried 14 space shuttle astronauts as a direct result of this phenomenon. In both cases there were conscientious scientists and engineers who tried to overrule management's schedule and budget driven decisions, to no avail.

In the bigger picture of the internet, and its ability to spread massive amounts of information in very short order, math can also be a primary means to "sniff out a rat". If someone is out there trying to sell their snake oil, and cannot back it up with mathematical facts, it is best to remain on the fence. Certain signs of charlatanism appear when such people attempt to "reach you" with emotional tactics whenever you ask them to "show me the math". Perhaps, if more people learned to use math, rather than fear it or loathe it, there might be fewer people taken-in by suicide cultists... as discussed in another thread.

Kind Regards,
Hello RainmanTime,

Thank you ,personally, for clarifying your position. I have to say I agree quite astutely, in the elemental nauture of mathmatics in our lives.

If nothing else, I wish everyone amongst the public (who votes) had a working knowledge of statistics. That way when they are offered "opinion polls", they know what questions to querry. What is the margin of error, was the sample truly random. How were the questions phrased? Lest it is the blind leading the bind.

Mathematics, if nothing else envelopes the spirit of "problem solving". Having an unkown integer, and knowing how to take what you know to figure it out...this ability is esential for improving our condition on terra firma.

Mathematics is the language of "relationships". By it's nature, it requires critical thinking, and the ability to associate. More than that, mathematics finds a good home in geometry, the incarnatation of mathematics. How do the shapes of the universe relate to one another according to the consistancy of mathematics.

About a decade ago, I recall a big hubub about the difference between IQ and EQ. Intelligence quotient, and Emotional Quotient, I think it was anyways. It was referring to how individuals contribute in other ways, that a socially advantageous. Do you recall this?

Maybe the managers that you speak of mark high in this area, which is good to motivate people, improve their quality of life as employees etc. But cetainly, as we saw in the Challenger disaster, political pressure should not over ride safety parameters set in large part by mathematics.

The thing that frustrates me, personally, when I read scientific papers, books or articles, is being ignorant of the symbols represented in equations. Especially if the symbols in the equation represent another equation. I know it is a sort of shorthand, to describe a relationship, in the most simplest terms, but I could definitely figure out what the shorthand is saying in verbal language if they gave me a key to the symbols. I hate feeling like a cryptologist without the key.

I find you to be an intelligent, sensitive, inquiring sort of person. I appreciate that you are contributing to our forum, because I know you have lots to contribute. What I find expecially wonderful, is your background in the sciences. It is wonderful to dream. It is more wonderful to dream in 4-D.


The Appropriateness of Chance is Astounding

"There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of truth's protective layers" by Neil Armstrong