Saturday, December 05, 2015

"How Math Works": A Comic Strip About a Fundamental Truth

The new SMBC, which is titled "How Math Works", is spectacular. It also gets at a fundamental truth, and it does so in an amusing way. (It is of course exaggerated.)

Step 5: "I will never understand it. I will never believe it. As I go into death, with my final breath I spit on your theorem."

The other steps also speak the truth, and Step 4 is damn funny. Step 6 is also a familiar one.

Of course, pretty much all of science works this way. It is worth noting, however, that the notion of repeating experiments is a fundamental difference between science and pure mathematics.

The comic strip is of course exaggerated, but I do think it genuinely gets at a fundamental truth. Once a theorem is true, it is simply true; but if it changes a paradigm and people don't understand the argument, there can certainly be a lot of skepticism that can last a long time before things are accepted.

Update (12/14/15): Take a look at this post in the Improbable Research blog. It asks: "Does science really advance on funeral at a time?"

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