Does Math Make You Seem Smarter?

Often movies include scenes showing math. Often, the math is on a blackboard or whiteboard in a character’s room or office, or in the background of the credits roll at the end of the show. The intended effect is, I guess, to tell the audience “this character is a genius of some sort, he or she is going to provide the hero with some amazing invention or information that will help defeat the villain”.

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Is Math Really Important?

I met someone after church the other day, and the conversation went like this

  • Someone: And what’s your speciality?
  • Me: Mathematics
  • Someone: So, you teach in the University?
  • Me: No, why should I be teaching in the University just because I specialise in mathematics?

There seems to be a general impression (and I’m deliberately overstating this) that the only use for math is to teach it. Even some teachers believe this, apparently. Here’s another conversation I had with someone at a bus stop :

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