Saturday, June 07, 2008

No longer young

Last week's Times Higher had a feature (pp. 30-35, and front cover) on "Rising Stars: The young academics who are tipped to go places". Their definition of "young" was the most liberal I have seen, namely 40 or younger. Only a few weeks ago I would have qualified! Damn.

Incidentally, one of those who made that hall of fame (in the capacity of "the philosopher") is social choice theorist Christian List at LSE, who is on the COMSOC program committee and is going to give a tutoral at the workshop. Kudos to my co-chair Ulle Endriss for recruiting him to these tasks.

A recrudescence of the national debate about the importance of mathematics saw Ben Goldacre calling into question the case for more maths teaching. This article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, attempts to do the same. He dismisses the value of intellectual disciplines that purport to train the mind, and alleges that promotion of such study "panders to the political correctness of the conservative classes". Maybe I should just admit myself to be a member of those evil "conservative classes" that he deplores. Winston Churchill supposedly said that you don't have a heart if you are not a socialist before age 30, and you don't have a brain if you are not a Tory after that. I guess that makes me about 10 years too late.

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