[FOM] The Ideal Mathematician

Walt Read walt.read at gmail.com
Fri Jan 10 17:52:58 EST 2014

Libelous? Hardly. It sounds like a description of almost any
specialty. In the last hundred years the growth of science and
technology has pushed the current research boundaries past the point
that the average educated person can participate. Do you think most
physicists could explain to people outside the field why the Unruh
temperature is important? Most specialties in medicine - cardiology,
radiology, surgery - involve subtleties that the typical patient won't
be able o understand - often even when the patient is also a
physician. Opera singers, plumbers and chefs deal with issues that
would be esoteric to most of their consumers. Given the surge of
hostility to rationality and science in culture today, we should
treasure those people who can successfully connect with the larger
public. But to say that, academically, most of us are in our own
little world is hardly libelous.


On Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM, Joseph Shipman <joeshipman at aol.com> wrote:
> I didn't need to read the second half to get the point. It is an accurate summary of a certain type of bad mathematician, but it is libelous to regard this description as in any way representative of the norm.
> -- JS
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Jan 9, 2014, at 4:32 PM, Charlie <silver_1 at mindspring.com> wrote:
>>      I would be very interested in FOMers' reactions to a short essay by Phillip J. David and Reuben Hersh entitled "The Ideal Mathematician".   I have been able to find the article in its entirety in a .pdf file accessible on the web, but pdfs are not permissible in this forum.  Below is a URL, which contains about half the essay, which in its entirety is 8 pages long, taken from their book _The Mathematical Experience_.)  To read the rest of the article, look for a pdf of it.
>> http://forum.wbfree.net/forums/showthread.php?t=29870
>>      Thanks.
>> Charlie Silver
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