Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Freaking fracking

I pass a student of mine standing at a table with a petition.

"Hey Professor, would you like to sign an anti-fracking petition?"

"No, I don't really know anything about it."

"What do you mean?" He looked dumbfounded.

"Well, I would need to read up on it for a while before I signed any petition, either for or against it."

"Oh, I can tell you: it's bad!"

Given the amount of studying that my students do, I would be willing to bet that he knew no more about the subject than I know. But he made up for that with lots of extra certainty.


  1. You're back at LVMI?

  2. I've run into the same situation many times myself.

    Me: I don't understand X.
    Them: I do understand X.
    Me: Oh, cool, then you can answer these questions I have about it [...].
    Them: Uh, I have no idea.
    Me: Well, what do you know about X?
    Them: [...]
    Me: I already know all that ...



"If your approach to mathematics is mechanical not mystical, you're not going to go anywhere." -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb