Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

At Mind Matters News: No, civilization has NOT won the war on math. Not yet anyway…


The war on math is now coming down to the race — not the ideas — of mathematicians:

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley muses on the latest assault on math teaching in schools:

“[T]he question of whether we have allowed Western mathematicians to dominate in our discipline is no less relevant than whether we have allowed western authors to dominate the field of literature. It may even be more important, if only because mathematics is rather more central to the advancement of science than is literature.”

Some professors have objected to being asked to consider the race or gender of mathematicians rather than their underlying theories or formulas.

In the Telegraph article, Exeter University Social Science Professor Doug Stokes is quoted as saying that “[t]he idea behind decolonising maths is that because everyone should be regarded as equal, the status of their beliefs must also be equal.” He denounces that view as “judgmental relativism is an inversion of science that is based on what is real rather than making everybody feel included.”

Jonathan Turley, ““Decolonising Math”: Durham University Asks Professors to Consider the Race of Mathematicians Before Relying on their Work” at JonathanTurley.org (April 11, 2022)

Takehome: Maybe it comes down to how much accurate ideas actually matter, as opposed to politics some people can force other people to pay for.

You may also wish to read:

Yes, there really is a war on math in our schools. Pundits differ as to the causes but here are some facts parents should know.


Further dispatches from the war on math. Discussions of social policy where math is relevant can be useful. But a student who does not understand how an equation works will fail at both math AND social policy. Increasingly, the United States depends on foreign talent in math and science. It seems an odd time for a nation to be sponsoring a war on math.

a long train of abuses and usurpations . . . kairosfocus
Fighting indoctrination in math for little kids
Florida bans 54 of its school math textbooks for 'trying to indoctrinate students': Half of the prohibited titles feature Critical Race Theory The Florida Department of Education tossed out 54 math textbooks submitted for its curriculum, with 28 rejected for referencing CRT The state DOE ultimately tossed out 41 percent of the 132 math textbooks submitted for including CRT, Common Core and Social Emotional Learning The DOE said 71 percent of the material submitted for elementary school students were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10724369/Florida-bans-28-math-textbooks-school-fight-Critical-Race-Theory.html jerry
I was talking to a mother of a 10 year old recently who said her son fell behind during the school lockdowns but has since rebounded. My undergraduate degree was in math and tutored math with several young people with success. There is a sure fire way to teach math to anyone, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals and other basic skills such as simple algebra to anyone in 5th grade or less. This is all they will need to function in society. After a couple years more advanced algebra can be taught. But the issue is that most parents won’t let their children learn the right way and will just leave it to the teachers who don’t have the time to do it right or don’t know how to do it right. So we get kids who can’t function with simple math because of bureaucratic intransigence. jerry
What do you guys figure? Should we follow the science or not? Dr Stokes is a top Peer Reviewed Scientist at Exeter University. And Dr Stokes writes this: "because everyone should be regarded as equal, the status of their beliefs must also be equal." Let me give an actual case study.... My hubby wants to spend $15Gs on a Kawasaki 310LX Jet Ski. The 310LX has a 310 horsepower turbo intercooled engine. So my hubby will be able to tear up Lake Texana at 80 miles an hour. My hubby believes that he's one who admires fine engineering that attains enhanced performance. While I believe that he's a lunatic. Do you guys agree that "the status of our beliefs should be equal"? A second question: Would you guys ever consider spending your own money for tuition at Exeter University? TAMMIE LEE HAYNES
News, I see where
Exeter University Social Science Professor Doug Stokes is quoted as saying [to correct it] that “[t]he idea behind decolonising maths is that because everyone should be regarded as equal, the status of their beliefs must also be equal.”
This is of course, rejection of objectivity and blatant relativism and/or subjectivism. It is a cynical exploitation of "equality" in a context where we should recognise that we are finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often ill willed or even stubborn. Duty to truth, to right reason, to warrant . . . KF PS, Would those who suggest such be willing to fly in an aircraft constructed on such principles as they propose? PPS, it is not merely race, it is culture. kairosfocus
If we assume that any policy which advocates using race as a means of discriminating for or against individuals is inherently racist - however well-intentioned it might be - then Durham University's recommendations are racist. The race of an academic in any field should be irrelevant in the grounds of academic freedom. Seversky
Any change in the way we now teach math will be an improvement. Dropping ALL courses called "math" and letting kids master math on the job would be the best of all. For 100 years, courses called "math" have given ordinary students a permanent dislike of everything called "math". The sole purpose of courses called "math" is to select and locate the weird 1% who are qualified to get a PhD in courses called "math". polistra

Leave a Reply