I have two simple rules for deciding whether a popular maths book is Any Good. Firstly: does it teach me something I didn’t know? And secondly: does it entertain me when treading ground I’m familiar with?
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Mathematical myths, legends and inaccuracies: some examples
I’m teaching a first-year module on the history of mathematics for undergraduate mathematicians this term. In this, I’m less concerned about students learning historical facts and more that they gain a general awareness of history of maths while learning about the methods used to study history.
Last week, I decided I would discuss myths and inaccuracies. Though I am aware of a few well-known examples, I was struggling to find a nice, concise debunking of one. I asked on Twitter for examples, and here are the suggestions I received, followed by what I did.