The Innumeracy of Intellectuals

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think the lack of respect for math and science is one of the largest unacknowledged problems in today’s society. And it starts in the academy — somehow, we have moved to a place where people can consider themselves educated while remaining ignorant of remarkably basic facts of math and science. If I admit an ignorance of art or music, I get sideways looks, but if I argue for taking a stronger line on math and science requirements, I’m being unreasonable. The arts are essential, but Math Is Hard, and I just need to accept that not everybody can handle it.–Chad Orzel, Inside Higher Ed

When I teach “News Writing,” I include a brief unit on reporting with statistics and percentages, and the “New Media Projects” seminar exposes upper-level students to various computer programming tasks.

I wonder whether Orzel would feel comforted to know that I regularly encounter people who laughingly dismiss their self-proclaimed inability to master the (heart-breakingly simple) rule about when to use “its” and when to use “it’s.”