The Mathematics Enthusiast


Taras Gula






How Not to Be Wrong is a wonderful and entertaining romp through a field of intriguing and thought-provoking anecdotes and social conundrums in which mathematical thinking and mathematics are revealed in all their messiness and power. While reading Jordan Ellenberg’s weave of stories for the first time, I found myself retelling them to as many individuals in my social circles as I could. Though the intent of the book is quite serious, [its goal is to show that mathematical thinking is accessible and useful to those who have not mastered complex mathematics, that mathematical thinking can lead to profound insights about the world around us, and perhaps, to reify mathematics as a foundation for truth] I found its tone light and engaging, and I really enjoyed retelling the stories as they sparked thoughtful conversations amongst friends and family. Talking about slime mold decision making helped stave off the feelings of dread and the awareness of crumbling social foundations around us. Ellenberg makes the case for the power of mathematical thinking to open a variety of phenomena to meaningful contemplation. He chooses to highlight topics from the esoteric to ones of concern to the mainstream middle to middle-upper class folks like me. It is the kind of thinking that many of us who also teach mathematics would like our students to engage in.

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University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library