Science and math

In the end I’m glad I did not attempt to become a scientist (being a botanist or researcher was once a career aspiration) because the pay is poor and I do not function well where my educational path is so regimented.

That said, the main thing that dissuaded me from science as a career is that I am terrible at math and essentially untrainable in this realm — I can spend 1,000 hours to learn some bit of math that takes the average student four or five hours*, and then promptly forget it all with absolutely zero recall when moving on to the next thing. I think this is probably mostly just a neuronal deficit, no different than not having good balance (which I also do not).

But whatever the reason, the few people who bothered to discuss it with me either way when I was a kid told me that because my math skills were sub-par, I could never be a scientist and that is wasn’t even worth trying.

Whether is is true or not, I don’t know. But E.O. Wilson’s thoughts and this article on it are interesting.

Math is used as a proxy sorting out the high-IQ people and I guess on most folks that works since it’s not permissible to give an IQ test directly most of the time. However, it tends to leave people like me out — those who often see what others do not, and can pull together large amounts of data in our heads and make sense of it (at least to others) with shocking speed but who will never be able to puzzle out the quadratic equation for more than a day or two before promptly forgetting it and taking another 1,000 hours to train again.

*I know because I’ve done this. I spent more time just to pass one stupid math test in high school than I did studying for all my other 27 high school classes in all four years combined. That is not an exaggeration, alas. And then I squeaked by with just one point to spare, thus graduating.