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.