Skip to main content

Math vs. Humanities

I was listening to a couple of Microsoft engineers talk about college tonight. One guy mentioned how strange it is that the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology -- The Russian MIT -- has no humanities.

"In India we had to do all of that philosophy sh*t and ..."

"We don't do that in the East Block," the other guy interrupted. "We have polytechnic schools for math and science. I was studying computers. I had no need for the other bullsh*t."

I laughed, and he stared at me alarmed.

"I'm sorry if I offended you," he said.

"No. That was awesome," I assured him.

But it wasn't awesome. It sucked, because I was bullsh*t in the context of that discussion.

What is it they say; the truth hurts?

You don't want an artist on your team in the race for ultimate greatness. You want someone like John Nash who sees the algorithms in daily life. You want someone who can mathematically simplify dating and the battle of the sexes for people who need instruction manuals.

If women (V) hate men who swing their dicks around like Tarzan (T) -- and eight of 10 men (M) are dick swingers -- let the T drop in pissing matches so M gets V. (If I was John Nash, I could say that with triangles and funny, squiggly symbols that mean something to folks at MIT.)


I did get an A in logic -- it's shocking, I know, to the long list of people who've threatened to kill me  in political battle.

What if we replaced the dick-swinging Tarzans in my equation with mathematicians; men with artists; and women with the world? It's reasonable that dick-swinging math gods will cancel their usefulness one day inventing The Perfect Computer, AKA the Doomsday Device, the Terminatior, C-3PO ... But I'm not certain in this scenario whether the artists or the robots will inherit the world.


  1. I keep seeking signs of humanity in society but most of the world works overtime to squelch it ...I imagine the scientific immunity would operate better if they had the ability to communicate.... But that might require an inclusive curriculum.

  2. Community...not immunity....thanks QuickFill!!

  3. EVERYTHING feeds on SOMETHING and is food for SOMETHING else. What's eating you?
    What in the Universe are you making energy suitable for?
    Violence VS Harmony

  4. Please don't confuse mathematicians with engineers.

    Nobody is more contemptuous of engineers than mathematicians. What we do is completely different. Math IS a humanity, a liberal art if you will.

    Engineers do trivial, small-minded calculations.
    Mathematicians contemplate infinity, higher dimensional spaces, patterns and knots and maps and piles of sand.

    We do math because it is beautiful. In the same way that a writer writes or a musician plays, mathematicians prove. It is about aesthetics more than anything.

    Math doesn't teach you to solve problems. It teaches you how to reason, rigorously and from first principles. You discover the most complicated and mind boggling truths. That takes creativity, imagination. Even in a upper level undergraduate class, if you can't visualize four or five spatial dimensions, you're in trouble.

    Sorry for the rant a year after you posted, but I travel the internet, trying to correct people's misconceptions about math.

    As G. H. Hardy put it: A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas.


Post a Comment

I showed you mine -- it's your turn now.

Popular posts from this blog

The insecure writer's support group

The ground is important -- for several reasons.

Among them

Gravity makes no sense without it -- there's no mandate that science be logical so long as our scientists are the smartest smartypants on the planet, in which case "because I said so" is an acceptable explanation. The ground is important, because it's something to build on -- a starting point, a foundation.

I respect the ground, because it has on occasion fallen out from under me, and it's rather unsettling to watch your life in free-fall mode -- to see your accomplishments disintegrate in an instant or a decade in some cases. It all depends on how fast you're falling.

Most of us drop in slow motion. We'll catch a ledge or an up draft every once in a while and think "this is it!" But then we go on falling. Or do we? Is the "bottom" just a figment of our imaginations? Can we lay new ground wherever we choose?

Ask Alice

None of my friends growing up were impressed with Disney's…

Writers get laid

Writers get laid -- or they would if they tried -- because people -- especially women -- are impressed by the phrase, "I'm a writer." It's romantic.

Introducing yourself as a writer insinuates substance and depth of character; people like that. They don't know why, except that one-dimensional characters on T.V. sitcoms and big-screen romantic comedies prattle on and on about the whole package -- a good looking, funny, intelligent single with rock-solid values and money.

People admire the skill and dedication it takes to be a novelist or a journalist or a screen writer  -- "I always wanted to be a writer," they tell you with stars in their eyes.

Whether they know it's a myth or not they imagine us in rich, thrilling lives with sports cars and beach houses and Louboutin shoes like Carrie Bradshaw. So the woman at the grocery store doesn't feel bad when she puts back the US Weekly she read cover to cover before she checks out.

Or downloading unauth…

The mirror

Ashlyn discovered the funny mirror at the park today. I could tell you all a long, silly story about our adventure -- the chasing after crows, the falling (me not Ashlyn), the rc plane crash, the dog poop and the climb to the tippy-top-top of the play structure -- but the pictures in this case are funnier.