Math & Emotions?!?

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Nonfiction | Tags: , , |

The library has recently acquired some really interesting books on the mathematics. Math may seem simple, finite, and dispassionate to some people. Yet these authors discuss how math can impact people’s emotions and/or mislead them into believe falsehoods. Come check out these thought-provoking books!

Loving + Hating Mathematics: Challenging the Myths of Mathematical Life
by Reuben Hersh and Vera John-Steiner

“Mathematics is often thought of as the coldest expression of pure reason. But few subjects provoke hotter emotions–and inspire more love and hatred–than mathematics. And although math is frequently idealized as floating above the messiness of human life, its story is nothing if not human; often, it is all too human.

Loving and Hating Mathematics is about the hidden human, emotional, and social forces that shape mathematics and affect the experiences of students and mathematicians. Written in a lively, accessible style, and filled with gripping stories and anecdotes, Loving and Hating Mathematics brings home the intense pleasures and pains of mathematical life. These stories challenge many myths, including the notions that mathematics is a solitary pursuit and a ‘young man’s game,’ the belief that mathematicians are emotionally different from other people, and even the idea that to be a great mathematician it helps to be a little bit crazy.

Reuben Hersh and Vera John-Steiner tell stories of lives in math from their very beginnings through old age, including accounts of teaching and mentoring, friendships and rivalries, love affairs and marriages, and the experiences of women and minorities in a field that has traditionally been unfriendly to both. Included here are also stories of people for whom mathematics has been an immense solace during times of crisis, war, and even imprisonment–as well as of those rare individuals driven to insanity and even murder by an obsession with math.

This is a book for anyone who wants to understand why the most rational of human endeavors is at the same time one of the most emotional” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
by Charles Seife

“The bestselling author of Zeroshows how mathematical misinformation pervades-and shapes-our daily lives.

According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers-they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything.

‘Proofiness,’ as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

-posted by Gretchen Schneider

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