One more example of the real value American society holds for math and science. Nationally syndicated columnist Richard Cohen tells a high school drop out not to worry about flunking Algebra six times. She’ll never need it.

Here’s the thing, Gabriela: You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it. You will never need to know — never mind want to know — how many boys it will take to mow a lawn if one of them quits halfway and two more show up later — or something like that. Most of math can now be done by a computer or a calculator.

In addition to imprinting his experience on the rest of the world, Cohen is confusing math with arithmetic, as many people do.

Computations are done with those devices. Applying mathematics to solve problems in the real world, requires a human brain capable of telling the machines what to do. That’s the kind of structure and reasoning that comes from a good understanding of Algebraic concepts.

Cohen goes on to fill the rest of the column with the usual cliche-heavy pronouncements about the worthlessness of mathematics for most people in the world. What he’s actually saying is, learn to type and you’ll get paid big bucks to write stupid things.

I can tell you from first hand experience, it doesn’t work that way for most of us!