Is math boring?

I follow the Times in using a completely inappropriate title for my piece; theirs is here.  A friend asked for my feelings about it.  When I finally read it, here were my scattered comments, beyond the terrible title:

  1. I thought the piece was poorly argued. For example, early in the article we see the claim that “within five years, there will be 2.4 million STEM job openings” used to support the idea that “the need for [STEM] workers is soaring,” but this is obviously fallacious — in the next five years, there will be several thousand academic job openings in math departments, but this big number is substantially smaller than the number of people with Ph.D.s in mathematics who are likely to be seeking those jobs. Fractions have denominators. Subsequently, “[American students] ranked 30th among students in 65 nations in math” is used to support the view that “[they] need vastly improved skills in math and science,” and this is just a non sequitur.
  2. Otherwise, it seemed like a grab-bag of not-unreasonable policy suggestions that don’t seem to have much to do with each other or with the shortage/crisis scaremongering.
  3. I thought http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/…/the-real…/ was a better piece — substantial portions of it are not really specific to the humanities at all but apply to any search for pure knowledge.
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