Quoted without comment

Commenter tdstephens3 in this thread at Mathematics Under the Microscope:

Mathematicians aren’t born from school math competitions in the same way that poets do not grow out of spelling bees.

9 thoughts on “Quoted without comment

  1. I do not feel that the proportion set in the comment by tdstephens3 is well balanced. I would formulate it in a bit more careful way:

    Mathematicians aren’t born from log table memorizing competitions in the same way that poets do not grow out of spelling bees.

    Basically, spelling bees have nothing to do with poetry, while a decent maths competition problem most definitely belongs to mathematics.

    And maths competitions are not spelling bees!

  2. I know this a minority opinion, but I don’t really like the idea of math competitions. I always refused to do things like the Putnam, for example. I don’t mind competition in general, but I dislike it for things of intrinsic importance.

  3. I suppose that I would like them more if I were any good at them, but I am in Walt “adjoint functors are bunk” Pohl’s camp on this one.

  4. As the owner of a rare double B.S. in Mathematics and English Literature from Caltech (1973), this notion struck home.

    Not as painfully, I should add, as the time that I was at the “10 items or less” line at a Pasadena grocery store, with roughly 17 items plunked down near the cash register. I was wearing a Caltech sweatshirt.

    “Are you an English Major who can’t count,” asked the cashier, “or a Math major who can’t read?”

  5. Jonathan: That’s like the greatest story ever. Clearly you were destined to double major solely so someone could say that to you someday. I see now that everything is foreordained.

  6. …the context…results oriented programs will not “create” more mathematicians/scientists. The position of scientist requires far more than good test scores. Please pick up on this, the culture of the scientist is unique and poorly understood.

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