The Oxford Dictionaries proclaimed “post-truth” as its 2016 word of the year. It defines post-truth as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” According to the editors, use of the term “post-truth” had increased by around 2,000 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, largely in relation to Brexit—the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union—and the United States presidential election. Continue reading
The United Kingdom was recently rocked by a furious controversy about the teaching of mathematics. Parents were enraged by a problem set in a national exam to assess the mathematical skills of 6-7 year-old children. Their complaint was the problem was just too hard for any child of this age to solve.
To me, this wasn’t the shocking part of the controversy. The real shock was that many of the parents complained that even they had difficulty Continue reading
People who make a career in science, computers or otherwise, generally do so because they are naturally drawn to it. They find science fascinating and entertaining, and thus are usually very good at it.
This is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it means they will spend most of their life doing essentially what they want to do; not everyone is so lucky. It is a curse because their instinctive understanding of science may cover up unsuspected misunderstandings, making it difficult to explain to others what they are doing and why it is important. Worse, these unsuspected misunderstandings may make certain aspects of the science to which they are naturally drawn less than pleasant, rendering them more of a burden than a pleasure. Continue reading