Favorite NON-fiction  

Michael Barr barr at barrs.org
Mon Jan 27 13:29:41 PST 2003

Ok, here is one in math.  The proof of the chain rule in nearly all
calculus books is wrong.  The funny thing is that a correct proof is not
especially harder than the incorrect proof.  There are cases where we tell
lies because the truth is too complicated.  Here's one: it is assumed that
you can add and multiply infinite decimals and the truth is that you can,
but the rules are so complicated that they are hard to describe.  Think,
for example, how to double .555555555555.... (unless you say that 5/9 +
5/9 = 10/9 = 1.111111111...., in which case I will give you a number in
which 5s and 6s appear at random).  Most of the lies would be too
complicated to describe here.


On Mon, 27 Jan 2003 Gaertk at aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 1/27/2003 12:52:08 PM Eastern Standard 
> Time, Chris Olson - SunPS <Chrisf.Olson at Sun.COM> writes:
> >> >_____ - _Lies My Teacher Told Me_
> >> 
> >> This sort of thing exists?  When I read _Science of 
> >> Discworld_ (by Pratchett, Stewart, and Cohen), they 
> >> discussed how school texts are full of "lies-to-students" 
> >> and why, but didn't have many examples or the true 
> >> explanations.
> >
> > Heh.  Yes, it does exist.  It's about history,
> > mostly, and covers the things that your teachers
> > never told you, and what they got wrong, and the
> > lies they flat-out told you.
> Eh, I'll pass then... there's nothing unusual in claiming
> history texts are biased, etc....
> What I want is a book explosing all the lies in math and
> science texts.  I was really, really annoyed when I learned
> the truth about pendulums....
> --KG