Math is important

In response to this article in the Washington Post, in which the author asks “How much math do we really need?”

I’d like to point out a glaring problem with the article:  He mentions 4 other disciplines other than math that are more useful:

Unlike literature, history, politics and music, math has little relevance to everyday life.

And then he mentions 6 professions that somehow don’t need much math:

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.

Here’s my problem: How much literature, history, politics or music do you need to be taught for any of those professions?  Personally I think the real professionals doing those jobs need quite a bit of math.

There’s another problem in the article, in this line:

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).

If you “Do the math” on that – we’ve been putting out more than 5 laureates a year after the effort vs. less than 2 before.  That’s good right?

I’m not arguing that everyone needs as much math as we can possibly jam down their throat: But I am disagreeing with the article as a whole as well as the problems I found in it.  I suppose the audience of the story isn’t assumed to have any desire to do the math.


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