Like me, you’ve probably noticed that people tend to think of math as morally neutral. There’s the world of ethics, values, faith, meaning and philosophy. Then there’s the world of math and science. CP Snow called this artificial division of head and heart ‘the two cultures’. Ideologies, philosophies, and religions clash, and then math steps in as the neutral referee. In a debate with Congress over the budget, even President Obama—a man of faith and letters—said that it’s not about ideology, ‘it’s just math’.
But it doesn’t take too much of a dip into the history of mathematics and especially the history of statistics to see that mathematical scientists are as agenda-driven as any other intellectuals and that their math tilts toward and then is used to buttress an agenda.
Professors Stephen Ziliak and Deirdre McCloskey have done the historical and theoretical spadework needed to expose the tilt in the foundation of modern statistical theory. They wrote the critically acclaimed and University of Michigan Press best-selling book The Cult of Statistical Significance and McCloskey edited and Ziliak contributed...