Does math have big scary teeth or something?
October 17, 2009 9:30 AM Subscribe
Why do people hate math and science so much?
posted by chicago2penn to Science & Nature (129 answers total) 96 users marked this as a favorite
I study cosmology for a living. Whenever I tell people this (and I usually use the word astronomy), I usually get one of three responses: 1) 'Oh, well... that must be hard' 2) 'I couldn't even begin to understand any of that' or 3) 'Cosmotology! Can you do my hair? Haha!'
This kind of gets to me after a while, and I was thinking last night about how people generally dismiss math and science (my passions in life!) from conversation. To the best of my consideration there are two reasons for this, certain people are actually incapable of understanding math and science, or they are afraid of it. I really hope the answer is the latter.
I then began to think about people's ideas of a well-rounded, well-educated individual: he/she is expected to have read Shakespeare, but he/she is not expected to know the two postulates of relativity, or all three of Newton's laws, or what a derivative is. This is at least my impression from my experiences in my tier-1 college and grad school (you can probably guess where from my username).
So what's the deal?
Why do elementary school teachers teach multiplication tables for 6 years and call that math?
Why do people tell women that they can't do math?
Why do people treat me, a scientist, as if my work is that much more esoteric and specialized than someone else with a similar degree in another field?
Is the ability to do math a learned behaviour, or is it somehow intrinsic knowledge?
Basically, what the hell is so scary about math?!