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Study Shows Good With Math Means Bad With People 479

Sylentmode writes "A recent study by Brookings Institution's Brown Center shows that students who are good with math are less likely to be happy, and are likely to have low confidence. From the article "In essence, happiness is overrated" says study author Tom Loveless. I wonder if Loveless is just a nickname, because he is so good with math."
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Study Shows Good With Math Means Bad With People

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  • by LeonardsLiver ( 885268 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:53PM (#16495079)
    people suck...
    • I know this is just anecdotal, but maths professors and those who are doing pure maths tend to be some of the most well rounded and happy people I know. Its actually struck me before, since I never really applied myself to in depth mathematics, but I always noticed how those guys seem to be fairly relaxed about life.

      • Re:What nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

        by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:14PM (#16495295) Homepage
        That's because they've found a place filled with people who think just like they do in the important ways. Perhaps future studies can show that people good with math surrounded by those who aren't will be unhappy ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by raduf ( 307723 )

            The study is correct, it's just what it means is misunderstood. There is no correlation between good/bad happy/unhappy students, only between averages on nations. If a nation is successful in math and has the best students, the overall level will be higher but also most students, for which that level is a bit too much, will be unhappy with it. And since worse students make the majority (gauss curve), the average will be "unhappy".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Zenne ( 1013871 )
        Isn't the article talking about students who don't do good at math, but enjoy it (rather than the kind of students who grow up to be math professors)? "The eighth-grade results reflected a common pattern: The 10 nations whose /students enjoyed math/ the most all /scored below average/."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by javaxjb ( 931766 )
        I was thinking the same thing, but when I RTFA (I know, shocking!) and came away with an entirely different impression that is more in line with my experience. The article isn't about how people feel in general, but how they feel about math. I absolutely detested the subject. I complained bitterly about the teachers, the subject, the requirements, etc., yet went on to major in physics and was one course short of a double major in math. Nevertheless, I am optimistic and fairly sociable. Said one colleague to
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by creimer ( 824291 )
      No, people are dumb. Get with the program and get the T-shirt [thinkgeek.com]. :P
    • by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:14PM (#16495297)
      I think the actual point of the article is:

      Ignorance is bliss.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nasor ( 690345 )
        This actually isn't too surprising; physchological studies have repeatedly shown that the better people are at something, the more they tend to underestimate their abilities. Similarly, the worse people are at something the more they tend to over-estimate their abilities. This has been shown to be true for an incredibly broad range of areas, from driving to using proper English grammar to tennis to solving physics problems to telling jokes. People tend to evaluate themselves by focusing on what they can't d
    • by fishdan ( 569872 ) * on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:56PM (#16495669) Homepage Journal
      Children (especially girls) who show aptitude at math are treated as if they are social misfits, and their social missteps are toerated more than in "normal" children. Kids who are good at maath are frequently "taught" via positive reinforcement to be social misfits by society.

      • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:45PM (#16496667)
        I always hear that, but I don't see it around me. Girls score higher than boys in most subject areas in school. Women make up more than half of all college students. A high percentage of law and medical students are female. Women are not penalized socially for being smart or articulate. What I have seen is that women who want to date a particular type of guy, the type who happens to be the jock alpha-male, have to try and fit in with the likes/dislikes of that type of guy, and they find themselves being someone they don't want to be, and resenting men for it.

        But I don't think many perl hackers want dumb women. Speaking as an English major, I don't like dumb women. I have met women who pretended to be dumber than they were, but without exception these women wanted to date a type of guy who wanted that in a woman. They ignore all the men who like strong, intelligent women, and then conclude that society painted them into a corner. It's sort of like men who date strippers--it's not that women are that way, but that women you like are that way. A woman having bad taste in men doesn't make me a pig. And all the smart women I know are respected by those around them. Yes, some are called "the B word," just as some rude, pushy men are called assholes. People are people, and no one gets a free pass.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @03:26AM (#16498177)
          You obviously have the priveledge of being educated, and surrounded by educated people.

          I grew up in a small rural town. I was IQ tested in kindergarten because I was 'different', and after that was told to just deal with the work that I was given, cos I was too smart for the underfunded rural school system to deal with. (And my mum is a single mum, on welfare, and my younger brother is intellectually disabled. You wonder where the money went?)

          Primary school was pretty good. I sat in the library and learnt about whatever I wanted to. I did activities with the other kids, but mostly I was self-directed.

          High school things changed. I was put into the top stream for all the classes, but very soon I was confronted with the idea that 'Boys are Smarter', in particular 'Boys are Better at Maths'. Math wasn't my strong point in comparison to English and Science, so I was coming second. The person coming first was another GIRL.

          In the 10th grade I was the ONLY Student in the school to get an A (between 90-100%) on the school certificate state exams for Science.
          When I tried to enrol in Chemistry for year 11, I was told that Biology is the 'Girls Subject', and that I shouldn't study Chemistry because it was too hard for me. (None of the boys I asked had been warned off studying chem).
          I went to the principal who happened to be a woman, and she had me enrolled anyway.

          Since I left that little town and enrolled in University, I haven't dealt with that sort of crap. My boyfriend loves intelligent women, my friends love intelligent women, I know other intelligent women.
          But heaven forbid I offer an opinion on a topic such as the current political climate, or the economy when I go home for a weekend. They don't want to hear it, not from me.

          People that have not lived in a situation where it is just easier to act dumb cant understand.

          Even educated men can expect a woman to be stupid. My Boyfriend and one of his friends did their MBA together, and they used to love setting up some arrogant twat in an argument with me, and then pounce on him the moment I won. :)
          Ah, good times, good times.
          But with out the support of those guys telling my opponent not to talk over me, because I know what I am talking about, I would never have had the confidence to argue down men a decade my senior, with half an MBA under their belts.

          Or maybe they just think I am dumb cos I am young and cute and blonde. :P
          Maybe being female has very little to do with it.
          Some women don't get that support.
          • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @04:16AM (#16498455)
            But heaven forbid I offer an opinion on a topic such as the current political climate, or the economy when I go home for a weekend. They don't want to hear it, not from me.
            Everyone who isn't in step with O'Reilly and Coulter is shouted down in this political climate. I feel like a pariah just for saying something as obvious as "torture is wrong." Our culture is dominated by people who think that contempt and derision qualify as valid arguments. It's not as if these same people are all calm and logical when they aren't talking to women, and then break into the "how dare you" tone when someone with ovaries comes in the room. They're assholes with the rest of us, too.

            People that have not lived in a situation where it is just easier to act dumb cant understand.

            It's easier for anyone to act dumb. Doesn't matter if you're male or female. I get made fun of for having a decent vocabulary, for reading, for not watching TV and sports, and so on. I'm not saying "guys have it worse," only that much of the flak women think they're getting because they're female isn't really because they're female--we get it too.

  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:54PM (#16495097) Homepage
    A recent study by Brookings Institution's Brown Center shows that students who are good with math are less likely to be happy, and are likely to have low confidence.

    Yeah, well, I think there's 10 types of people in this world. People who are good at binary, and ... 9 more.
  • by Karloskar ( 980435 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:55PM (#16495101)
    I think Tom Loveless is suffering from a variant of nominative determinism [wikipedia.org] with that finding.
    • Best one I've ever seen -- and I swear upon all that is holy that I'm not making this up -- my nephew visited a urologist named Dr. Weiner.
  • Overrated (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:55PM (#16495109) Homepage
    ...students who are good with math are less likely to be happy, and are likely to have low confidence. From the article "In essence, happiness is overrated" says study author Tom Loveless.

    Really? Didn't anyone stop to think that maybe math is overrated?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bamafan77 ( 565893 )

      ..students who are good with math are less likely to be happy, and are likely to have low confidence. From the article "In essence, happiness is overrated" says study author Tom Loveless.

      Really? Didn't anyone stop to think that maybe math is overrated?

      From a purely economic standpoint, it definitely is [greenspun.com] as Philip Greenspun shows. So we should absolutely let these foreign kids move over and take the science and math jobs. The pay (mostly) stinks.

      However, as I'm sure many will point out, there are

    • by pilkul ( 667659 )
      More to the point, didn't anyone think to RTFA? The summary is completely misleading.
      • Re:Overrated (Score:5, Informative)

        by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:18PM (#16495355) Homepage

        No I read the article (at least partially), but I was responding to the summary. The article seems more to be a rebuttal of education theory that started being implemented about 10-20 years ago. People kept focussing on making kids feel good and increasing their self-esteem, but they're finding that making kids feel good about math doesn't help them do well at math. If anything, it's the kids who worry about doing well enough in math that succeed.

        Not too surprising, if you ask me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by danpsmith ( 922127 )

          People kept focussing on making kids feel good and increasing their self-esteem, but they're finding that making kids feel good about math doesn't help them do well at math.

          That's because math, like computers, functions on logical operations. Math doesn't care how you feel just as the computer doesn't hate you. In cases where people say things such as that, a lot of tech support people mutter PEBKAC under their breath. Some people are naturally inclined to be logical, and some aren't. Maybe it is somet

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you want to read the actual study you can find it here [brookings.edu] (PDF warning). Included are such gems as "American students are much more confident about their math abilities than Singaporean students" and "But even the least confident student in Singapore outscores the most confident American student!"
        Food for thought.
    • by mhore ( 582354 )
      Really? Didn't anyone stop to think that maybe math is overrated?

      Why might that be? Math is critical to functioning in today's world -- from figuring out whether you have enough cash in your bank account to both pay the rent AND buy that new shiny iPod to determining how to modify your recipe to accommodate the unexpected arrival of 5 more dinner guests to averaging the scores of your english students to... you name it.

      I really doubt math could ever be overrated. At least not in general.

      Now... TOPOLOGY

      • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
        Why might that be? Math is critical to functioning in today's world -- from figuring out whether you have enough cash in your bank account to both pay the rent AND buy that new shiny iPod to determining how to modify your recipe to accommodate the unexpected arrival of 5 more dinner guests to averaging the scores of your english students to... you name it.

        Oh I see, you're from those that think that our kids are forced to learn 12 years of adding two numbers together and the multiplication table. All needed
        • by mhore ( 582354 )
          Or? How often you do compute volume of irregular 3D objects, or do matrix determinants or solve system of equations of third power so you can meet the month budget?

          As a physicist, everyday. ;)

          I agree with you that for kids it's a good idea to show them how they can apply the math, etc. Leave the hard theory for college or whatever. But math is certainly not overrated, which was the point I was trying to make, and I'm sure you agree with that.


          • No, no it really is. I'm a English major who never took a single math class in above high school geometry (which was more like "nap time") and I still function pretty well without it.
      • I think you are arguing against your own point unless you can find a practical use for something beyond addition and multiplication. Nobody would argue against those. It's the advanced topics that are both much harder to learn and much less valuable in practice.
      • Why might that be? Math is critical to functioning in today's world -- from figuring out whether you have enough cash in your bank account to both pay the rent AND buy that new shiny iPod to determining how to modify your recipe to accommodate the unexpected arrival of 5 more dinner guests to averaging the scores of your english students to... you name it.

        So what you are saying is anything above 3rd grade math is pointless? :)
    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:16PM (#16495331)
      > Didn't anyone stop to think that maybe math is overrated?

      According to my calculations, it's overrated by a factor of about 2.7
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rk ( 6314 ) *

        I have refined your calculations and computed it to 10 significant figures: 2.7182818285.

  • Quite True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sqwubbsy ( 723014 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:56PM (#16495119) Homepage Journal
    I do a bit of work with folks from the Netherlands. Great folks. Great country.
    One guy turned to me and said "I wish we could be as confident as you Americans are."
    Struck me dumb. This is a bright guy who I highly respect and yet his focus, despite his strengths, was on confidence.

    So I kicked his ass.
    (Just kidding.)
    • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      I've spent a lot of time with Finns, and I have a couple close Finnish friends.

      I would say that there is a character, at least in Finland, of a practicality that almost borders on pessimism. On one hand, this is good. You don't have people suing the school because there child got a 'F', you don't have people wanting to ban all guns because some crazy person shot someone else. You don't have this crazy idealism that forces people to want to make radical, sweeping changes to society.

      I have read somewhere
  • by irtza ( 893217 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:56PM (#16495123) Homepage
    and finally a study to prove it. Now all we need is one more and we'll have a happy three studies!!! wait, if they do another one after that it'll be seven wonderous studies!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by joeslugg ( 8092 )
      Yes! That's seven! Seven wonderful studies!!

      AH! AH! AH! AHH! (lightning and thunder)

      I LOVE counting them!

  • by jpardey ( 569633 ) <j_pardey.hotmail@com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:58PM (#16495137)
    All the article says is that students who are less confident and less happy with math are more likely to do well, in relation to how they feel about it, and how it is taught. Even the article seems to be misreading what it seems the study says. Sounds to me that harder, more complete math classes lead to better math skills.
  • H1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:00PM (#16495153)
    H1 = T_h * e^-re; 1 = R_e / (SPE)^c * t * f(u) + l^2 / y; |d|i s_a / g^2 * (r_e)^e; I(h, a) = v ~ e; e^x * c_e * l^2 / (e^n * t) + s^(-oci) / a^l + |s_k|i * l^2 / s!
  • Math textbooks in the United States, for example, tend to have colorful photos, charts and stories to please kids, he noted. In other nations, the texts strictly have math.

    You really can't be Harvard Calculus [mathematic...orrect.com]. That was a learning nightmare if there ever was one. The semester before they introduced it at my local university, they gave a talk on the "new" calculus. One old man in back was rapping his cane against the chairs screaming, "This Harvard Calculus violates 200 years of tradition!" Needless to say
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by megaditto ( 982598 )
      Sit back, relax, and let Darwin sort them out.
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:05PM (#16495191) Homepage Journal
    "Good With Math Means Bad With People"

    If that were true I'd be much better at math.

    • I know it was meant to be funny, but the implication being good with math means bad with people does not imply the converse is true (the converse being: bad with people means you are good at math). Just wanted to clarify that for any people who are bad with logic.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by skidde ( 670293 )

      Not necessarily.

      Let us rephrase the original statement to read, "If one is good with math, then one is bad with people." This can be represented more generally as "if p then q".

      Since we know q to be true if p is true, we can also say that if q is not true, p cannot be true--this is the contrapositive, which is always true if the original statement is true. You have attempted to assert that if you are bad with people, you must be good with math--in effect, if q then p. This is the converse of the original

  • That's easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FlatCatInASlatVat ( 828700 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:06PM (#16495201)
    One of the things it takes to be good at math is compulsiveness to complete tasks and to pay attention to detail. Those same drives are the ones that make you unhappy in the real world, which is by its nature messy, illogical and incomplete. Seems like in most arenas, the people who succeed are the ones who are internally driven and thus never really satisfied. Isn't that why most of the people at the top are off the bell curve in one or another aspect of social behavior?
  • RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The article says that people who are confident in their math ability or enjoy math tend to not be as good at math as student's who hate it. This relates entirely to math and not the person's confidence overall. The point of the article appears to be generally that classes that teach math without trying to sugar coat it or make it more enjoyable for students produces better math students.
  • Common Sense? (Score:2, Insightful)

    They asked 8th graders whether they enjoyed math and whether they feel they did well in math, and saw that those who enjoyed it more or were more confident in it scored the least well in math tests.

    So what?

    I used to think I was pretty good at tennis, until I got my butt kicked by someone who can play against me sitting in a chair, and then I saw that guy get his butt kicked by someone else who competed on a national level

    And then I saw the light: I suck at tennis and I will have to put in a lot of time to g
  • I just love all these "correlation is causality" studies. The true causal mechanism is undetermined, but is usually more likely to be in the reverse direction from the conventional spin.

    Without correction for intelligence, this study merely shows that people better at math (highly colinear with intelligence -- you can't be good at math without being intelligent, but not all intelligent people are good at math) -- so obviously have fewere peers within whatever IQ range makes for a good friendship (1 sigma?

  • These studies are just rubbish. Whoever is behind them has some hidden motive. Do they think we have forgotten urguments by the tobacco companies about the lack of evidence that cigarettes and nicotine are harmful?

    I am an African man from very humble roots, who excelled in maths, beating folks in rich and priveledged societies. As such, I landed a scholarship to a prestigious university where I came on top of the class, amazing my professors.

    I even learnt the German and French languages and even got myse

    • by jdgeorge ( 18767 )
      I therefore take this study to be an insult to all of us who are pretty good at the subject and successful with our neighbors.

      You do not in any way disprove the findings of the study. However, you do demonstrate that even some of the brightest people do not bother to Read The Fine Article before posting an expression of their misdirected outrage on Slashdot.

      Please read the article first, then decide whether you are offended by its content.
  • If one reads the actual article, it's not about overall happiness/enjoyment but happiness and enjoyment when doing math. This has really little to do with the overall happiness of the society, though it could be used, along with other more general studies, for that purpose.
  • I think the problem lies to the "Mathphobic" (I can be a politician and make words up too!) culture. Math and Science are considered to be Hard so they are not culturally acceptable in conversation, while conversation in literature, arts, music, sports and politics are. So people who are good with math and have interest in it and spend a lot of time with it, tend have little to talk about because culture says math is hard and understandable so people will not listen to you, classify you as an outcast. Kno
  • No kidding! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:14PM (#16495293)
    I kicked the math habit, and got laid!
  • First RTFA because the poster was off. The article said students that were confident about math tended to do worse at it.

    I find that the more math I learn the more I understand that there is a lot out there I don't know. (pull out the socrates qoute)
  • One thing that the article mentions were that the math scores were for 4th and 8th grade students.

    Most of the advanced concepts in Math such as algabra, trig, geometry, analytic geometry, differential and integral calculus, vectors, etc. are not taught until high school. I would like to see a study where 12th graders of all countries were compared rather than the younger crowd.

  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:17PM (#16495339) Homepage
    I don't know if it's cause or effect, but I'm not surprised those with intense, focused pursuits have problems with human interaction on average. Interacting with people is a subtle and complex skill and it takes practice to be good. "Non-specialist" people have more time to interact with a wider spectrum of people, and as a result they are better at interaction. No surprise there - intense subjects like mathematics take lots of time to master and are not very social in nature. It's all about what people devote their time and energy to. (Insert usual caveot that statistical summarizations of trends are never binding or even useful when considering individuals.)

    "Happiness" is a bit hard to make quantitative, so studies will be a little hard to evaluate or reproduce, but since human beings are designed to be social I would expect that a lack of social interaction would have a negative impact on their "happiness." There are fairly good survival reasons for people to prefer being with the group, although that is less true now than throught most of human history (where being the odd loner would most likely earn one the title "Box Lunch.") Modern civilization opens up opportunities for specialization, and in doing so also introduces relative isolation into the human social framework. How this will play out is not clear, but it's not surprising that there will be changes - human social controls and group socializations depend on knowledge of individual people and personalities. They don't scale well to cities of millions of people.
  • ...is bliss.
  • The summary has the article completely backwards - they merely found that the students that enjoyed math were in fact worse at it. This has nothing to do with people's social confidence, as the article summary would have you believe.

    Personally I think that the focus on math is all wrong - people are trying to increase enjoyment in math by making things "relevant" or "fun", when it should place more of a focus on logic and solving puzzles. Math is inherently a lot of fun once you realize that it's not all ab
  • by rlp ( 11898 )
    Has anyone checked the math in Mr. Loveless's study?
  • Are people going to start thinking that students _must_ suffer in order to do well in math, or that their degree of suffering is a useful metric for how well they will be doing im math? Even the CNN summary notes that in any given nation students who were more confident tended to be the better students. Confidence IS important, and this study _underscores_ that. We shouldn't be making the subject roses and daffodils, but at the same time isn't it possible that students from nations who are less confident ov
  • sun rises in east.
  • by foonf ( 447461 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:33PM (#16495477) Homepage
    What this study found is that students from countries with higher average math scores have lower average enjoyment of and confidence in math than those from countries with lower scores. This does not actually imply that people who are more proficient in math enjoy it less than those who do not, in general, much less that they are less happy overall. What it does suggest is that educational systems that produce students who are more capable may be less enjoyable or result in less confidence, which actually makes a good deal of sense considering how math is taught in many countries that tend to perform well in these international comparisons.
  • This "study" is so ridiculous, that I'm even tired to bring you multiple reasons and example to prove it wrong.

    Instead, I leave it up to you, to do the math and come up with the conclusions.
  • The slashdot headline "Study Shows Good With Math Means Bad With People" is misleading. The blurb is accurate. The article makes no reference at all to being "good with people". What it reports is that students who are happy or confident about math are likely to score lower in it (paradoxically).

    The purported reason is that methods of teaching mathematics that emphasise student enjoyment of the subject, or confidence with it, is less effective than more unpleasant teaching methods.

  • Bad with people in general, perhaps (even if the article did state that, which it did not), but probably very good with other mathematicians.

    I have a lot of interest (to the extent of doing original research) in pure math, though my primary field is computer science. By far, the most interesting people I've ever met, and the ones I've got along with most, were at mathematics conferences. I would recommend attending conferences to anyone who is interested in math, to meet other mathematicians if for no other
  • Way to go Editors, the study did not make any sort of claims about the people skills of those that are good at math.

    But it seems that making poor headlines is endemic. Even the article gets it wrong.

    Compare the headline: Confident students do worse in math

    To what you find in the article directly contradicts the headline:

    The 10 nations whose students enjoyed math the most all scored below average. The bottom 10 nations on the enjoyment scale all excelled.

    Within a given nation, the high-confidence kids did b

  • by descil ( 119554 ) <teraten@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:44PM (#16495565)
    Correlation does not equate causation.

    How many times do I have to say this? Slashdot keeps making this mistake. Just because two things happen at the same time doesn't mean that one causes the other.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Correlation does not equate causation.
      How many times do I have to say this? Slashdot keeps making this mistake. Just because two things happen at the same time doesn't mean that one causes the other.

      What part of that: "A recent study by Brookings Institution's Brown Center shows that students who are good with math are less likely to be happy, and are likely to have low confidence." states a causation?

      What is stated as the cause, and which is the effect? I only see a statement of correlation here.
      • by descil ( 119554 ) <teraten@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @12:28AM (#16496989)
        Actually, the article is pretty good. I have some complaints about the validity of their study because of these statements:

        "Nations that try to teach math in terms of daily life have the lowest test scores."
        "Countries reporting higher levels of enjoyment and confidence among math students don't do as well in the subject"

        Which seem to indicate a broad-level study ignoring individual people - in fact they are studying the entire country, and saying, "Okay well US students have high levels of confidence and enjoyment, and they do badly at Math. Chinese kids are less confident and happy, and they do well at math." Well okay yes, perhaps, but maybe US kids are just more confident because they don't get lambasted so often. And maybe Chinese kids are good at math because of the high pressure. At least, that's the explanation I've been given to understand. As another reply to my original comment says, there's not even necessarily a correlation here. Statistics lie, especially when you use such broad brush strokes, and ignore the statistics of individual people. For instance, in the US alone, do students with higher math skills correlate to lower confidence? The study does not say.

        The causation problem I have is this:
        "Study Shows Good With Math Means Bad With People"

        Which indicates causality. It's not a problem with the article, but a problem with slashdot. Unfortunately, slashdot postings do not imply editor comprehension. There is absolutely NO sense of journalistic integrity on slashdot. Sure, it's a news re-posting site, but the blurbs are very important, since most people don't RTFA. I admit, I didn't until you complained at me ;)
  • content (Score:2, Insightful)

    If they're happy and confident, then they are content.

    Let's look in the dictionary...
    Main Entry: 2content
    Function: transitive verb
    1 : to appease the desires of
    2 : to limit (oneself) in requirements, desires, or actions

    They're content, so they're not pushing themselves.
    The ones that are unhappy about their math skills are still striving to improve them.
  • Or... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by volsung ( 378 ) <stan@mtrr.org> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:48PM (#16495597)
    Good with Slashdot Titles Means Bad With Reading Comprehension
  • Straight from the horses mouth:
    "Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so." - John Stuart Mill
    (Slasdot's fortune's take on the article ;) )
  • Whoever wrote the head line should learn about implications, and to stop adding meaning that isn't there. The article is fairly specific:

    Being happy and confident about doing mathematics does not imply compentency in mathematics. In fact, they have a reverse correlation (not to being confused with causality).

    There is not a sentiment of "being good at math makes you exhibit anti-social behavior", or anything of the type in the article.


  • Go to hell you ignoramus jerk!!! I hate you I hate you I hate you!

    Just because you can't do math, you f***in business major party whore!!!
  • Lisa: Dad, as intelligence goes up, happiness often goes down. In fact, I made a graph! [sadly] I make a lot of graphs.

  • ..."correlation does not imply causation."

    Or, straight from TFA: "Correlations do not prove causality." (p.14)

    Imagine coding as sloppy as therse headlines.

  • Misread article (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeadChobi ( 740395 ) <DeadChobi&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:13PM (#16495853)
    I don't think the guy who posted this read the article very well. I think they actually mean that the students who are most confident in their math skills tend to score the lowest on math aptitude tests. That isn't really news at all, as ignorance is bliss. The headline on Slashdot completely misses the actual point of the article which has nothing to do with social skills. Maybe the submitter could actually try reading the article more carefully. Of course, the entire article is phrased in such ambiguous language that it's difficult to discern what is meant by "confident." It has nothing to do with social skills.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sax Maniac ( 88550 )
      Right, I heard this bit on the radio this morning, and they way they reported it aligns with your reading, not the poster's. It said that student's confidence IN MATH correlates with lower scores.
  • by Glog ( 303500 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:05PM (#16496325)
    Slashdot's done it once again - it's patently stupid to say that "good with math means bad with people". This is not what the study says at all. It establishes a relationship between enjoyment of math and math skills. It also concludes that the more you were taught math as a fun game the less likely you are to be good at it. It mentions nothing at all about social skills in relationship to math.
  • by NerveGas ( 168686 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:32PM (#16496561)
    ... of one of my calculus professors from college. The guy was so socially awkward that if a student went up and asked him a question, he'd get really nervous, back away from them, and - if he could - pack up and leave the room. He NEVER failed a single student, because he didn't want to have to see them again. He sure was good at math, though.
  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @01:45AM (#16497613) Journal
    I don't know why I bother to mention it anymore, but would you people please stop using "FUD" as a synonym of "bullshit"? Just because you disagree with the assertion doesn't mean that the study's authors are purposefully and maliciously spreading "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" about math geeks.
  • by slashdotmsiriv ( 922939 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @04:59AM (#16498661)
    As we all suspected,

    the overfed confidence of americans is an artifact of their education system.

    this article talks about the special case of math education and associates math failure
    with high confidence.

    I guess it applies to many other fields, like politics, e.g. ppl feel confident about their great country and dont feel the need to sit down and think what their leaders may be doing wrong.

    Also this whole attitude creates the PHB corporate culture. Since confidence is such a highly valued attribute, the more confident u are, the more likely it is that confident ppl end up in important positions. But confidence, especially in the US, is not positively correlated with actual skill. As a result, idiots become managers and CEOs.

    I have a gut feeling that the Americans who created the first parliamentary democracy, won the WWII and sent ppl to the moon, drew confidence only from achievements not by having teachers or psychologists teaching them how to be confident. It may be time that America went back to the basics ...
  • ENFP (Score:3, Informative)

    by tygerstripes ( 832644 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:44AM (#16499413)
    Too late for anyone to read this, and I've no doubt there are a load of "Bullshit, just look at me/some famous guy" posts, but... The Myers Briggs personality-type test (so often used in profiling people for managament) identifies the "ENFP" type or "Champion/Advocate" as being exceptionally good with people, while usually also having a curious propensity for maths, due to their intuitive tendency and ability to seek patterns and deeper understanding in all things. Since ENFPs account for about 3% of the population, this would seem to fly in the face of the article. Just a thought. See here [typelogic.com] for a profile break-down.

Established technology tends to persist in the face of new technology. -- G. Blaauw, one of the designers of System 360