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Marilyn's Image of Mathematics

In the July 26, 2009, issue of Parade Magazine, Marilyn vos Savant poses this problem...and I quote:

Test Your Logic Point A marks the center of the circle to the right. Point B is 4 inches from A. Points ABCD mark the corners of a rectangle. Point E is 6 inches from B. How long is line BD? No math is involved, readers. Give it a try!


Now, Marilyn is known for two things. First, she promotes herself as having the world's highest IQ (Check her web site if you disbelieve). And second, she often gets in trouble with mathematicians who continually disagree with her and disprove her responses to math problems (e.g. the most famous examples being her "rejection" of Wiles' solution of Fermat's Last Problem and her "solution" of the goat-car gameshow problem).

Given the problem above, Marilyn seems to be in trouble again. How can there be no mathematics involved? Though this is an old Mensa problem, it certainly does include mathematics in it's solution. In fact, consider Marilyn's own solution: "Because ABCD forms a rectangle, BD must be the same length as a line from A to C. Line AC would be the radius of the circle, the same as AE. So line BD is 10 inches long."

To me that is "all" mathematics!

The problem seems to be that Marilyn either equates mathematics with arithmetic...or she does not feel geometry is a part of mathematics. Now, my IQ is a only a small percentage of Marilyn's reported IQ score, yet even I know that mathematics is not arithmetic and that geometry is an important part of mathematics.

These real-life instances are one reason for the existence of this web-site. Throughout my teaching career, I seem to have focused on fighting false-views of mathematics, that somehow are inculcated into students' minds and persist into adulthood. This perhaps is one cause of the 0.99 syndrome that irks me to no end.