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Journalism by the Numbers (a pedagogical play in one scene) #math

(Lights up on a college journalism classroom. The professor enters, surveys the room.) Professor: Math! Students: (Shocked reaction.) Professor: Math!! Students: (Scattered cries of “No!”) Professor: MATH!!! Students: NO!!!   (Blackout.)   (40 minutes later.)   Professor: So, at the very least when you encounter numbers in your reporting, contact sources who can help you interpret those numbers critically. Seek out a variety of credible views on the provenance and…

Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite

I’ve recently processed and absorbed my recognition of the “left brain vs right brain myth.” (One side of the brain may work harder on some tasks, but there’s no evidence to suggest that whether a person is logical or creative has anything to do with how that person’s brain hemispheres relate to each other.) The classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a literary exploration of the early scientific theories…

Liberal Arts Classes Could Teach Neil deGrasse Tyson a Thing or Two about the Path from Data to Wisdom

Your mileage may vary, but I immediately thought of Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, who states this problem in negative terms. Yes, she’s a made-up character delivering a line in a movie about an imaginary ring from a fantasy book, but anyone who really understands Tolkien’s story will have reflected on the connection between localized morality (the imagined injustice Gollum faces, and the real prejudice he experiences…

Shakespeare on Eclipses

Prepping for tomorrow’s first meeting of my Shakespeare class. In 1598, during Shakespeare’s lifetime, England experienced a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality tracking from Cornwall in the southwest up to Aberdeen in Scotland. As we in the twenty-first century prepare for the Great American Eclipse on Aug 21, let’s look at three of the ways Shakespeare used eclipses in his plays and poems: 1. An eclipse as an ill…

Trump Briefly Glanced at Eclipse without Protective Glasses

Donald Trump’s persona as a man who doesn’t like to be told what to do feeds into the spread of this image of him staring directly at the eclipse without protective glasses. I’ve seen it portrayed as if an aide warned Trump not to do it, and then he immediately did it anyway, on impulse. Naturally I investigated. Recalling the still photo taken of Trump appearing to ignore his own…