Mathematics and Philosophy

One leading theory in cognitive psychology identifies seven types of thinking including language, interpersonal and intrapersonal, spatial, music, kinesthetic, and math-logic. Mathematical thinking (contrary to a modern mythology) is not limited to any one area of the brain . As such mathematical thinking touches every other aspect of thought.

This is evidenced by the heavy language aspects of algebra and the spatial thinking of geometry, as well as the formulations we create for fairness (social thinking), and the interplay between order and chaos in our music.

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The original intent of this site was to demonstrate how mathematical reasoning could help us understand complex problems. A few pages were created with that intent:

The focus of this site drifted to using more rigorous analysis to support discussions about common numbers in the news.

Eventually that drift naturally led to mathematically evaluating common beliefs. During this phase our focus has been mostly on busting common myths.

Economic Myths (see the summation)

  • a flat tax would be fair (doubtful)
  • the Fair Tax (consumption tax) would be fair (false)
  • a flat tax (or consumption tax would affect people equally (false)
  • a flat tax would help the middle class (false )
  • the rich pay an unfair share of the taxes (false - actually their share of taxes correlates to their share of income)
  • the rich pay an unfair tax rate (false - their rate is about the same as ours)
  • the rich pay an unfair tax burden (false - estimates show tax burdens to be lower for the rich)
  • tax cuts to the rich stimulate the economy (false) tax cuts to the middle class stimulate the economy (uncertain)
  • Bush cut taxes (false - he increased total taxes, but transferred a significant portion to your children)
  • taxes are at their highest rate ever (false relative to GDP)
  • increased (Obama era) spending caused the deficit - (false - it was mostly caused by tax cuts)
  • Republicans cut spending and deficits (false - only Clinton cut both, then George W Bush significantly increased both)
  • unregulated markets benefit all citizens (false)
  • the rising economy helped all Americans (false - the top 1/2% got most of the gains)
  • Democrats suppress the economy (false - growth was highest under Clinton and Carter)
  • the GDP grows fastest under Republicans (false - fastest under Clinton and Carter)
  • a rising GDP is good for all citizens (false - GDP can rise without raising wages or employment)
  • the standard of living increases under Republicans (false - poverty increased while incomes declined during both Bush administrations, but wealth to the middle class increased under Carter, Reagan, and Clinton)
  • standard economic measures are good indicators of the state of our economy (false due to unreasonable expectations)

Environmental Myths

  • the climate has stopped warming (false)
  • climate change will be good for us (doubtful)
  • all exposures to radiation are harmful (doubtful)

Social Myths

  • IQ is a reliable measure of intelligence (false)
  • Standardize Tests reliably measure learning (false)
  • test scores reliably measure education (false)
  • experience is a good indicator of how people are (false - experience correlates quite poorly to social patterns)

More Myth-Busting