Friday, March 4, 2016


1. What would happen if GMO crops were banned (Steve Novella)
The authors of the current study demonstrate one key advantage of using GM traits – increased yield which results in lower land use for agriculture. They also point out that banning GMO will result in higher food prices, of $14-$24 billion per year in the US alone. Higher food prices disproportionately affect those with lower income.
2. A brutal takedown of "the Math Myth" (Keith Devlin)
The tragedy of The Math Myth is that Hacker is actually arguing for exactly the kind of life-relevant mathematics education that I and many of my colleagues have been arguing for all our careers. [...] Unfortunately, and I suspect because Hacker himself did not have the benefit of a good math education, his understanding of mathematics is so far off base, he does not recognize that the examples he holds up as illustrations of bad education only seem so to him, because he misunderstands them.
 3. John D. Cook excerpts an interesting take on rigor versus vigor in mathematics
I just started reading Frequency Analysis, Modulation and Noise by Stanford Goldman. The writing is strikingly elegant and clear. Here is a paragraph from the introduction.
Rigorous mathematics has a rightful place of honor in human thought. However, it has wisely been said that vigor is more important than rigor in the use of mathematics by the average man. In the particular case of this volume, the amount of rigor will be used that is necessary for a thorough understanding of the subject at hand by a radio engineer; but when it appears that rigor will confuse rather than clarify the subject for an engineer, we shall trust in the correctness of the results established by rigorous methods by the pure mathematicians and use them without the background of a rigorous proof.
In the class I currently teach, we try to adopt a similar posture. I also remembered a similar line is Sanjoy Mahajan's book " “Too much rigor teaches rigor mortis: the fear of making an unjustified leap even when it lands on the correct result.”

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