Saturday, October 18, 2014

Making Assumptions

What do you think of this shirt? (Facebook keeps showing me an ad for it.)

I think the message it sends about math is very wrong. Part of how we do mathematics is by showing that something must be true, or figuring out that it's false. Even though the Collatz conjecture works for every number up into the billions and beyond that, we still don't say we know it's true, because we don't have a proof.

We don't assume we're right. In fact, I think mathematicians may be more willing than others to question their own assumptions.


  1. Ah, math myths, how shall we count thee?
    (1) Math people are smarter than the rest of us. (2) There ARE "math people." (3) Math problems always have a "right" answer. (4) Math is never open to interpretation or debate. (5) ...

  2. Agree... for too many reasons to mention I can't imagine that shirt would be a very big seller; and while it's intended to be humorous, it isn't very chuckle-worthy!


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