Does mathematics make us boring dullards?

I stumbled upon an interesting blog today. The interestingness starts with the blog tag line and url:

The Intelligent Woman’s Toyboy | The musings of an eccentric but not particularly intelligent wannabe intellectual, taking potshots from the outside and exploring the boundaries of credibility on matters that are of no concern to him. Read it anyway !!

The blog url and a cursory look at the archives suggests that the blogger (Ajit Chaudhuri) is based in France, is probably single, has worked for years on the ‘grant giving’  side of aid agencies, and is 7 months into his Ph.D program. In his recent  The Fifth of Euclid post, Chaudhuri poses the question “Does mathematics make us boring dullards?” at the end of a very interesting post and answers it thus:

For those of you still here, I would like to conclude with something on the joys of mathematics. Mathematics, like single malt whisky, is an acquired taste – few of us are born with mathematical ability, and even fewer with an innate distaste for it. It is mostly that some of us are fortunate with our middle school maths teachers, and others are not. Mathematics is the only science that does not require expensive laboratories and complicated equipment to be able to practice – a pencil and paper, and a mind, are all one needs. And as for whether mathematics makes you a boring dullard – let’s look at some mathematicians. Pythagoras of the eponymous theorem fame was also the head honcho of a secretive spiritualist cult. Descartes, who built the foundation for understanding physical objects as algebraic equations, was a mercenary soldier who often fought both sides of the same war (depending on who was paying more money). Poincare was from a famous political family (his cousin, with the same surname, was a French Prime Minister), born with a silver spoon and a love for the good things in life. And, last but not least, Perelman himself is an unemployed bum who stays with his mother in a run-down St. Petersburg apartment and lives on her Soviet-era pension. It is entirely possible that he, too, would have difficulty ironing his clothes.

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One Response to Does mathematics make us boring dullards?

  1. Ajit Chaudhuri November 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Dear Vishy,

    Just to thank you for noticing and highlighting my blog and the post ‘The Fifth of Euclid’. I am delighted that you enjoyed reading the blog. I write a note about once a month on a topic of my choice and, if I have your permission and email id, I will be happy to put you on the list of unfortunate persons who receive this note directly.

    Also, actually I live in India (straddling between Delhi and Gujarat), have been married for 20 plus years, and have worked on most sides of the Indian social development sector including implementation of development programs in villages (though I am currently an unemployed bum trying to work towards a PhD).

    With best wishes,
    Ajit

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