but in my opinion, what you say is the question we need to ask…”are these big-brain types (mathematicians) even human?” — is not the question.

in my opinion, great mathematicians — “these big-brain types” — are not “the ones causing such havoc from techno pollution to wars on terror….” great mathematicians, such as Andrew Wyles, are literally spending almost all their waking time doing math. and if they can’t do that, they are miserable. nor do they have a god-like tendency to self-regard. great mathematicians are constantly torn with doubt, because doing great mathematics is probably the most humbling thing a member of the human race can do.

to repeat, this is “in my opinion.” I stopped trying to do mathematics in the middle of second-year college calculus. but in high-school i was very good at problem-solving. and I still love mathematics.

i also admit I’ve shifted my emphasis from “mathematicians” to “great mathematicians.” but this is because I am addressing your question about “these big-brain types,” and not E.B. Patton’s humerous piece. and I’ve met someone I’d call an “ordinary” mathematician; he was vain and humorless and obviously very concerned with his own importance.

my all-time favorite mathematician is the man who initially “solved” infinity — Georg Cantor. you’ll find an introduction to his works at an entry concerning “Set Theory” at MacTutor’s History of Math:

http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/HistTopics/Beginnings_of_set_theory.html

the article goes incomprehensible pretty quickly.

Georg Cantor was miserable virtually his entire life. a much lesser but still great mathematician, Wolfgang Pauli, covered his insecurities with blindingly quick sarcasm; and another great mathematician of quantum physics, Paul Dirac, was so withdrawn socially that he required long periods of time to speak out even about mathematics — among his far inferior and admiring colleagues.

That politicians and other lesser humans including lesser mathematicians have found absolutely awesome applications for the works of even the greatest mathematicians should not be the basis for condemning mathematics itself or the vast majority of working mathematicians.

]]>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_in_Economics

Good old Wikipedia.

In the six years beginning in 1969, American economists won or shared the prize four times, while economists from all other nations won twice. But the beginning really ended the next year in 1975 when an economist from the Soviet Union shared the Prize with an American.

In 1976, the very next year, Uncle Miltie Friedman won.

From 1976 through 2007, American economists have been the sole or joint recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 25 of 32 years. Moreover, the “Topics” – what the guys got the prizes for according to Wikipedia – sea-changed after 1975. They went from heavy, leftist lifting — things like work on a “general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory” (1972), to butterfly-effect things like:

– for having a “new method to determine the value of derivatives (1997),” and

– for their “analyses of markets with asymmetric information (2001).”

What’s far less obvious but almost as significant as this course from liberalism to angels dancing on the heads of pins, is that none of these Nobel economists has ever possessed mathematics credentials good enough to make a ripple at MacTutors History of Mathematics:

http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/

It is a shame there’s no Nobel Prize for mathematics. And the Nobel Economics Committee’s perpetually misplaced, over-valued, and pseudo-scientific judgments about their laureates has contributed mightily to the sort of thinking that E.B. Patton satirizes, perfectly, in “Workers Not Barnyard Animals, Study Finds.”

]]>Bubbles had a particular style that Portnoy liked.

Everything is style and art.

Phillip Roth is a famous writer who is always writing about his life in Merica.

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