Friendly Atheist Podcast Episode 73: Dr. Keith Devlin, Mathematics Communicator and Author

Our latest podcast guest is Dr. Keith Devlin, a mathematician who’s also known as The Math Guy on NPR’s Weekend Edition. He has written several books explaining math to the masses. And he’s also the co-founder and Executive Director of Stanford University’s Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-Star).

We spoke with Dr. Devlin about why math is difficult to understand and explain, how we tend to know more about mathematicians’ lives than their work, and whether programs like Khan Academy help or hurt students.

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It’s Worth Taking a Full Minute to Learn How to Add 9 and 6: A Response to the “Common Core” Critics

Quick: What’s 99 + 47?

No calculators.

It’s 146. Of course it’s 146. You know how I know that?

Because I rounded the 99 to 100… and then subtracted one from 47 to make up the difference.

I sure as hell won’t do this:

That would be a waste of time when rearranging the numbers in your head is a lot faster. That’s what’s the math teacher in the video below is trying to explain to a news reporter using the numbers 9 and 6:

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It’s Every Math Teacher’s Dream…

See how that response plays out at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal :)

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Six Reasons the PhotoMath App Isn’t As Cool As You Think It Is

By now, you’ve probably seen the amazing video about an app called PhotoMath. Once you download it, you can take a picture of a math problem with your phone… and the app not only solves the problem, it shows you how to do it step-by-step. Everyone seems to be talking about it.

How cool is that?!

Not very, actually… and here’s why:

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This is How You Do “Common Core” Subtraction

Erick Erickson, the editor of the conservative website RedState, is furious because of the way his third grade daughter is being taught math. I mean, just look at how her “Common Core” textbook teaches subtraction:

Yes, that’s confusing when you look at it. I’ll admit that.

Erickson, who (I’m guessing) mechanically learned subtraction by putting the big number on top, the smaller number on bottom, and doing a little bit of “carrying,” is annoyed that his daughter isn’t learning math the same way he did:

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