Innumeracy and related academic turf-defenses….

Chad: Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos
Tom: What Does the Public Really Need To Know?: Science/Math edition.
Chad: The Innumeracy of Intellectuals
Janet: Fear and loathing in the academy.
Join in the fray….

2 responses to “Innumeracy and related academic turf-defenses….

  1. Ryan Lanham

    OK. We can do a few things:
    1. We could try to establish what people MUST know by way of math.
    2. We could figure out when they should know that.
    3. We could stop being surly about our own expertise and realize most people don’t need to share it or even have a vague notion of what we do.
    4. We could let people choose what they need to know with some competing and carefully vetted guidelines that are non-binding. Remarkably, people will jump through the hoops that have value to them. We all do it.
    5. We could stop acting as if there is some idea of a discipline that entails a certain set of knowing. That’s crap. It doesn’t exist. Get over it.

  2. Those are 5 good questions.
    But who is the “we” of “We could try to establish what people MUST know by way of math” and the other 4?
    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union… and intersection?
    We, the pillars of the institutional Science edifice?
    We, the Sciencebloggers?
    We, the majority of adults who don’t know whether the Earth revolves around the Sun or the Sun revolves around the earth, whether an atom or an electron is larger, whether one can see the Venus by day with the naked eye from the surface of the earth, and who don’t know how to do compound interest arithmetic?
    We, the uncredentialed Boards of Education of local communities?
    We, the national Academy of Science?
    We, the bureaucrats of the Department of Education, with unwavering dedication to President Bush’s great legacy, No Child Left behind?
    Begs the question. Who should ask the questions, answer the questions, weight the answers, develop the policies, execute the policies, do the math?