A week or two ago I wrote about how the most fundamental of science knowledge and common sense seems to be eluding a significant swath of the U.S. population. Mainly because so many people are espousing the dangers of wearing a mask due to carbon dioxide toxicity and yet medical professionals have been wearing face coverings for at least one hundred years without passing out on the operating room floor.
But, in a strange turn of events it seems that even though American’s science knowledge appears to be limited we are geniuses when it comes to math. This may appear to be a paradox because science and math are like peanut butter and chocolate – two great things that go great together.
So, it stands to reason that if you excel at math your science acumen would be above average. It’s a head scratcher for sure but let’s not dwell on this conundrum and instead focus on the surprising number of people that are suddenly gifted mathematicians.
Now, when I made this discovery I was flabbergasted, no make that shocked, because most folks will readily admit they don’t excel at math or in some cases (me) not only hate math but are still suffering from PTSD from high school Pre-Calculus.
This is why the volume of people on my social media feeds that are now suddenly math experts has been quite a jolt. It’s impressive to be sure that these folks have morphed from being in a non-math centric careers their entire adult lives to suddenly sharing their insights on complex equations and data.
Nothing has summoned all these hidden math geniuses like the debate on whether or not schools should open for the fall. All of a sudden parents were posting their interpretation on data from a wide variety of sources and proclaiming that based on their findings and mathematical extrapolations that the COVID-19 transmission rate is “way too low” for schools not to open.
The dedicated arithmetic aficionados went even deeper and shared their in-depth numerical calculations on high school sports. According to these newbie math scholars, there is no significant mathematical data to show that team sports should be in any way affected by the coronavirus.
Now Bayesian probability and Diophantine equations aside I get it that a lot of parents want the schools to open. I’m also cognizant that school district officials that have to make these decisions are in uncharted territory and probably need the skills of King Solomon and the psychic gift of being able to predict the future to even come close to making every parent happy.
There is no answer, game plan, or confluence of ideas that will meet every family’s needs or fit in with every child’s learning style. Basically, it’s a huge nightmare that we all want to wake up from.
As parents we zig and zag and then zig some more and keep repeating the phrase “stay flexible.” But what’s not helping is people all of sudden deciding they’re experts in a field they have zero education in (who knew there are so many people that know more than experienced infectious disease experts) and thinking that reworking data or mining it to reach a conclusion that fits their plan to “get back to normal” is helpful.
It’s hard to do nothing, to just wait. It runs counter to our “see a problem, solve a problem” American sensibility. But if people really want to help the only thing most of us have any real control over is embracing the best health practices to keep our family COVID-19 free.
I don’t know what the math equation is for that but maybe it’s one we all need to learn.