Monday, June 17, 2002

More Thoughts on Math Send this entry to: Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

More Thoughts on Math In response to an earlier post on math: I think math is the hardest thing that humans do. The "math coprocessor" is not present in most people, and those that don't have it simply can't do mathematics. As for whether those who aren't doing math can't do math...well, it's my opinion that the best scientists in ANY field are the mathematically savvy. In biology, the guys who knew math (i.e. the physicist influx in the 50's) were disproportionately the guys who made the real discoveries. After all, great discoveries, by and large, are generally quantitative - with the notable exception of the reverse engineering discoveries common to biology. But even there guys like Luria, Morgan, and Hodgkin & Huxley made great strides with the methods of mathematics. You'll find this pattern in every field - economics (Black-Scholes), physics (Dirac's Equation), chemistry (MB distribution) , electrical engineering (modern signal processing), etc. The mathematically savvy are the best scientists - period . My point is that to a first approximation, mathematical ability = intelligence in the colloquial sense. And all this talk about how it's "more challenging" to "unlock power" in other people's minds is really just nonsense. It's kind of like people who didn't get into an elite college dissing the elite students for being "spoiled". After all, to paraphrase Feynman: "The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous." As a corollary, those people for whom a great deal of effort is spent "unlocking power" will never be as competent as those who can learn on their own. Thus, that which is difficult to the competent (i.e., theoretical math) will be impossibly difficult for those who need to have their hand held every step of the way.

posted by godlesscapitalist | 6/17/2002 08:02:00 PM | |

Principles of Population Genetics
Genetics of Populations
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Evolutionary Genetics
Molecular Markers, Natural History, and Evolution
The Genetics of Human Populations
Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits
Epistasis and Evolutionary Process
Evolutionary Human Genetics
Mathematical Models in Biology
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Narrow Roads of Gene Land 1
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Narrow Roads of Gene Land 3
Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution
The History and Geography of Human Genes
Population Genetics and Microevolutionary Theory
Population Genetics, Molecular Evolution, and the Neutral Theory
Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations
Genetics and Origins of Species
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Evolution for Everyone
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A Reason for Everything
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