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The War on Math

Posted by Melanie Weissman, CNF Reader and Art Curator for Issue 4.1

I’m not a math person.”

It’s a statement we’ve all probably heard, if not spoken, multiple times throughout our lives. The sentiment seems ubiquitous among literary types like me. Why is that?

Numerous sources claim that the idea of some people being more inclined to natural mathematical talent than others is a lie and anyone can be a math person if he would just quit whining and put some effort into his studies already. I’m far from an expert on the workings of the human brain, so I’m in no position to contest that, but I can say that in my personal experience, when I’ve said that I wasn’t a math person, I haven’t merely been stating that I found math harder than other academic subjects (though I certainly do); I’ve also been expressing that I just plain don’t like math.

blog imageI guess that’s not entirely true; I do enjoy math in some capacities. I’m a big fan of Sudoku and those logic puzzles where you have to figure out who drives which car or who saw which movie. Even the less glamorous parts of math, the geometry and trigonometry and calculus, aren’t the absolute worst things in the world. (Algebra is pretty bad, though. Algebra can die in a fiery pit.) I suppose I’d rather find a derivative than clean my room. Rationally speaking, I know I shouldn’t have that much of a problem (if you’ll excuse the pun) with math, so why do I often feel the need to tell people those dreaded five words: “I’m not a math person”?

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