For the uninitiated, math is the boring exercise of manipulating numbers, a practice that most people would consider outdated ever since the invention of the calculator.
To Alex Bellos, author of Here’s Looking at Euclid, math is a fascinating subject that can be used to evaluate almost any problem that can be solved using a series of rigid rules.
It is a system that we can use in order to discover why the real world defies common sense, and even to explore realms outside the universe as we know it.
Here’s what he has to say about it.
Self-help gurus would probably counter that I’m just afraid of self-improvement, but I find myself very skeptical of the entire movement. New-age mystics and self-proclaimed experts all claim to have the secret recipe for happiness. Whether arguing that reciting affirmations will realign the universe to do your bidding, or providing folksy insight that you’ve already heard from your grandparents, the majority of these books don’t have much to offer.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that I was immediately skeptical of Peter Spinogatti when he contacted me for an interview. The marketing surrounding his book, Explaining Unhappiness: Dissolving the Paradox, didn’t get me riled up either. It wasn’t until I exchanged a few words with him that I realized we could have a very interesting conversation.
When it comes to psychology, Peter is skeptical of the scientific method. This simple fact caused me to put my guard up. After spending some time talking with him, however, I found myself realizing that I had always been skeptical about whether or not psychologists can really call what they do science. Instead, Peter argues that psychology is more like math. It’s about definitions, not causes.
That’s when he had me.