Maths != Smart

22 Feb

I like maths. It makes me sad that it is a subject almost universally despised. Well maybe not despised, but unfairly put up on a pedestal. Something that only the elite, the cream of the crop can reach. That you have to be smart in order to do maths.

That is really bull shit.

First, doing maths doesn’t mean you are smart. When people find out I do maths they often say “You must be really smart” and will mean it as a complement (the other time they will say “Oh, I was never good at maths”). Initially this really annoyed me as I don’t think of myself as a Terry Tao, and would try to explain that really, I don’t think I’m smart. However, I know that just because I’ve completed a bachelors degree I’m roughly in the top 30% (if you accept the fallacy that being university educated is being smart). I have no idea what percentage I would be in for completing a PhD. So yes, I’m probably what most people call smart (Impostor syndrome is a bitch). But, these people that call me smart just know I do maths, they don’t know what level I’m at.

I think of friends I did my undergrad with like Cynthia and Boyd. These two both completed their degrees and they worked damn hard to get it. They didn’t just go the lectures and tutorials and everything magically made sense. They spent (well Cynthia did, I think Boyd just failed and eventually passed) large amount of time with the lecturer trying to understand the content. They really had to work hard in order to complete their assignments. They weren’t “smart”, they worked hard.

Invalidating all their hard work by calling them “smart” is just insulting.




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