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Does mathematics look certain in the front, but fallible in the back?

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journal contribution
posted on 03.10.2013, 13:08 by Christian Greiffenhagen, Wes Sharrock
In this paper we re-examine the implications of the differences between 'doing' and 'writing' science and mathematics, questioning whether the way that science and mathematics are presented in textbooks or research articles creates a misleading picture of these differences. We focus our discussion on mathematics, in particular on Reuben Hersh's formulation of the contrast in terms of Goffman's dramaturgical frontstage-backstage analogy and his claim that various myths about mathematics only fit with how mathematics is presented in the 'front', but not with how it is practised in the 'back'. By investigating examples of both the 'front' (graduate lectures in mathematical logic) and the 'back' (meetings between supervisor and doctoral students) we examine, first, whether the 'front' of mathematics presents a misleading picture of mathematics, and, second, whether the 'front' and 'back' of mathematics are so discrepant that mathematics really does look certain in the 'front', but fallible in the 'back'.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Citation

GREIFFENHAGEN, C. and SHARROCK, W., 2011. Does mathematics look certain in the front, but fallible in the back? Social Studies of Science, 41 (6), pp. 839 - 866.

Publisher

SAGE Publications © The Author(s)

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publication date

2011

Notes

This article was published in the journal, Social Studies of Science [SAGE Publications © The Author(s)] and the definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306312711424789

ISSN

0306-3127

eISSN

1460-3659

Language

en