Saturday, March 1, 2014

Clones Amongst Us? ;-)

Two people who have pretty obviously been cloned, since they keep showing up everywhere(!) evangelizing for mathematics literacy, are Ed Frenkel and Keith Devlin... (no doubt, in some sort of brilliant disinformation strategy, they've been cloned by the very governmental agencies they keep warning us about ;-)

As for Frenkel... science sites, sure; math sites, well of course; NY Times, why not; and needless-to-mention Twitter... now this week Ed  (or one of those clones) appears in Mother Jones online edition exhorting the importance of mathematics and his frequent message that it is not just for the gifted few, but IF taught right, for the masses.
Includes a podcast interview with Frenkel, whose Russian accent is almost as enticing as Keith Devlin's British one!

Lots of good points made by the man who dared to title a book, "Love and Math."
excerpt (from Mother Jones):
"...Frenkel views math as an 'archipelago of knowledge' that's universally available to all of us, and he's been everywhere of late spreading the word. In particular, Frenkel is intent on warning us about how people are constantly using (or misusing) math to get our personal data, to hack our emails, to game our stock markets. 'The powers that be sort of exploit our ignorance, and manipulate us more when we are less aware of mathematics,' said Frenkel."...
"To him, math—not religion—is the one shared body of firm, unchanging knowledge that we all possess and that nobody can ever take away from us… 'It's a great equalizer,' Frenkel says"....
"Forget the idea that [math is] alienating and hard. According to Frenkel, life is hard without it."

And Keith Devlin continues his math promotion, equating solving math problems with mountain biking (another of his passions), while hailing the lowly amygdala!:

His discussion of math's "Eureka" moments is especially interesting:
"How does the human mind make a breakthrough? How are we able to do something that we have not only never done before, but failed many times in attempts to do so? And why does the breakthrough always seem to occur when we are not consciously trying to solve the problem?
"The first thing to note is that we never experience the process of making that breakthrough. Rather, what we experience, i.e., what we are conscious of, is having just made the breakthrough!
"The sensation we have is a combined one of both elation and surprise. Followed almost immediately by a feeling that it wasn’t so difficult after all!
"What are we to make of this strange process?"
All of which leads to some interesting cognitive/neuroscience speculation and praise for the amygdala's role in problem-solving.
Enjoy the whole piece... and then, go take a bike ride!

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