Pharyngula

Ask me a question!

The new weekly question is:

“If you could shake the public and make them understand one scientific idea, what would it be?”

I’m going to get all fundamentalist on this one. The one thing I wish everyone understood is…

Math.

I know, it’s cheating, and it’s a whole wide range of concepts rather than just one idea, but really—everything would be so much easier if they knew a little algebra, some basic probability theory, and a teeny-tiny bit of statistics. If only everyone understood probability, the opposition to evolution would decline rapidly (even the creationists who purport to be mathematicians seem to be innumerate), and of course, lottery systems would go bankrupt and Vegas and Reno would return to desert.

It really isn’t a lot to ask. I won’t even insist that everyone understand introductory calculus. I’m sure that all my fellow science academics will agree that at least it would make our disciplines easier to teach if we could put up equations as easy as Hardy-Weinberg or Nernst and not have half the freshman class stagger back, reeling as if we’d kicked their grandma by exposing them to grade school algebra.