Saturday, May 5, 2007

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." - Dr. Albert Bartlett
or, America the Innumerate.

First a definition from Webster’s: Innumerate - marked by an ignorance of mathematics and the scientific approach

Innumerate is to mathematics what illiterate is to the written word. Unfortuneatly, the term accurately describes a significant percentage of Americans.

Americans are given a right to vote, though less than 30% of eligiable adults actually do so. Still, we are a country of political and policy "experts". Yet few Americans, including most of our current Member of Congress could define and explain the importance and effects of:

2.71828183, or (1 + x/n) to the n - or as it is commonly expressed in mathematics – e

e is the reason scientists are confident in their calls for reigning in CO2 and CH4 gases, and the consequences if we do not.

e is the reason that I am so confident we have a significant energy crisis in the offing.

Not familiar with e? You should get reacquainted. Why would someone not familiar with this natural law of mathematics have an opinion on global warming or remaining energy supplies? Because some special interest group spent a lot of money to influence their easily swayed, intellectually lazy, mind. You wouldn't let some special interest group do that to you, now would you? (You don't smoke, do you?)

Nearly half of U.S. Members of Congress are lawyers (data point from, with an even greater percentage for senior regulators at the state and federal level. Mathematics is not on the curriculum of most Law Schools. What about the Mainstream Media? Nope, math isn't on the menu at journalism schools, either. How many Members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, and Cabinet Members, not to mention W, do you think could answer the above question correctly?

And these are the people we are counting on to navigate this crisis.

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