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Overthinking Math


Whether we’re good at math or not is irrelevant to this question as it would seem most people not only aren’t but absolutely despise it. This morning on Slashdot I caught a short blurb on the Tuesday Birthday Problem which states, “I have two children, one of whom is a boy born on a Tuesday. What’s the probability that my other child is a boy?” ScienceNews has a detailed breakdown of the logic behind the intuitive answer 1/2 chance and the mathematical answer 13/27 chance.

Is this why so many people hate math – that breaking a question into detailed pieces and questioning the order of given information results in answers the average person simply can’t accept?

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Taking words and making them numbers requires certain complex actions of the brain. At times this is done automatically without a conscious effort. Where it might be intuitive for many people, others have difficulty with this basic brain function. Because math has functions in everyday life, this difficulty gets construed as a weakness – weakness can inspire contempt which can cause hate.

It is similar to learning a foreign language. What one person can easily assimilate and automatically understand, another person has trouble with a foreign language and must mentally translate each word or phrase. It’s a matter of brain function – which is different in each individual.

This same pattern can be observed in athletics, as an example. There are people who must struggle physically to achieve the same physical result as a more athletic person. The more athletic person sees the less athletic person as weaker. The less athletic person is not the preferred choice for a team – etc., etc.,

The less athletic person is no less valuable than the athletic person. But, the unconscious regard is still there; as it is with the less intuitive math person. The abilities that a society sees a person having is often the level of ability that person accepts as his own.

I don’t believe that people don’t like math. I believe that people do not like the exercise of performing math homework in the world of academia. Math would likely be better appreciated if it were taugh in a problem-solving manner, as opposed to banging out the odd-numbered questions from 1-80 on a Tuesday night.

Interestingly, regardign math vs. athletics; athletics seems to be the place where people love to flex their math muscles. You can’t go a minute in a sports game without a barrage of stats being thrown out.

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Wrong by Anonymous

This math is wrong wrong wrong if they hope to keep people thinking they have a clue of what they are talking about. Let’s look at it from a wick dipping perspective(AKA reality) I have a boy who was born on a Tuesday. Then I dip my wick again. 50/50 chance of a boy. Full stop. 50% boy 50% girl. Wait 10 months dip again. 50/50 never changes unless you have a IVF clinic screwing around. Stats might skew this a bit towards boys but that is biology not math.

They are trying to use the same shit as used on the Monty Hall problem.

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