In honor of Shrove Tuesday (tomorrow for me, although it's past midnight in the UK), have a meaningless formula that will tell you how to make the perfect pancake.
(It seems to me that these silly formulas usually come from the UK. Why?)
23 February 2009
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I may be a couple of years out of date regarding the UK media, but from my recollected experience: they wouldn't know or care about proper mathematics if Marcus du Sautoy beat them around the head with it. Moreover, academic footsoldiers feel pressure to garner good PR by playing along with idiot games. Every now and again the two combine to produce idiocy such as you link to.
Also: as you probably know, the Daily Fail is not the place to expect any sane treatment of science, mathematics, statistics or its practioners...
I suspect -- or hope -- that Dr Fairclough (who the article so gallantly refers to as Dr Ruth) may have acquiesced in, rather than actively sought, the newspaper's drivel.
This comment on the article sums up my first thoughts well:
"According to that formula, if you left the pancake batter standing for ten years, (s-e) would be large, and so the pancake would be near perfect. If you let it stand for the same time as you left the pancake to cool, (s-e) would be zero and the pancake would be infinitely bad.
I would be ashamed if I studied maths under this woman - this is a silly PR stunt."
-- James Smith, Slough
Can they at least provide meaningless units to go along with their meaningless formula?! Gah!
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