Friday, February 17, 2006

The Richard Cohen Bandwagon

Everybody else is already talking about this Richard Cohen column for The Washington Post. Aye, I verily expect the blogosphere to soon split in half and erupt in civil war over the topic. Much like last week.

Now, more thoughtful people than I are going to be dissecting this poor man to pieces for his crimes against lower mathematics. So here's my two cents: being completely unfamiliar with Mr. Cohen's ouevre, has he really managed to be an opinion columnist for an extended period of time without having any grasp of basic algebra or even percentages? I mean, doesn't that sort of limit what kinds of topics you can talk about? Or does he not let his lack of comprehension hold him back from going on at length about topics--like, say, the economy--where a basic ability to read a graph in a useful fashion (which is certainly algebra) is fairly necessary?

And is this indicative of the general state of journalism? That's got me sort of curious. Because I'm fully aware of the stereotype of English-major-who-just-wants-to-avoid-math, but I've never been sure it really existed because I don't see it much in the real world. But it could possibly explain a lot of bad reporting out there, if it turned out that journalism was some sort of refuge for those who are bad at math but still want to inflict their opinions on the rest of the populace.

6 Comments:

At 18 February, 2006 08:56, Anonymous gnfnrf said...

He's either an idiot or lying. He uses implied algebraic reasoning in several of his other articles.

Either he doesn't know what he's talking about, doesn't realize he's using algebra, or knows it and just wants to be sour.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/09/AR2005110901634.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/30/AR2005113001818.html

The second one particularly makes use of an explicit (though simple) algebraic formula.

So really, I think that he knows more algebra than he thinks.

--
gnfnrf

 
At 18 February, 2006 10:46, Blogger The Neurophile said...

That's hilarious.

 
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