Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why do we fear thinking?

  1. Jun 20, 2008 #1
    Why do humans fear thinking? From personal experience, I've seen people scuttle at the thought of homework or some mathematical calculation. It seems we are inherently lazy. Is this because the thinking process requires tremendous energy or what?

    If I asked you to simplify (a + b)^7 x (x + c)^3 you'd all sigh.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't know if the root is a fear of thinking, but it's certainly socially acceptable to be lazy/bad at math.

    I bet every one of us has experienced this: you're at a social function. A person asks you about your career/schooling/interests. You say, I'm a scientist, or I studied physics in college. At best, the person says nothing and the conversation dies an awkward death; at worst, they go on about how bad they are at math, and start apologizing for how bad they did in high school algebra. "Oh I can't do math! I've flunked math since 5th grade!"

    Now, would they do similar apologizing if they were bad at reading? Does anyone ever say, "Oh, I'm terrible at reading! In fact, I'm practically illiterate!" and laugh it off?

    Why is it so acceptable to be bad at math?
  4. Jun 20, 2008 #3

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Really? That might apply generally, but do you really think it applies here? :biggrin:
  5. Jun 20, 2008 #4
    The social climate somehow is completely ignorant of the fact that scientists and people who work in science are normal human beings with normal abilities; the only discernible difference from most of the population is that they choose to follow a different passion.
  6. Jun 20, 2008 #5
    Replace all "I can'ts" to "Yes I cans" and you will be amazed you could accomplish more. It should apply to all areas in life.
  7. Jun 20, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I fear thinking about heights, and centipides and that's about it.
    That equation? naa...not too intimidating :smile:
  8. Jun 20, 2008 #7
    I am not talking about social situations or "I can'ts". I am saying when you are home alone you'd much rather relax and say watch TV than to read theoretical math.
  9. Jun 20, 2008 #8
    You haven't visited The South much have you? :biggrin:
  10. Jun 20, 2008 #9


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    If given (a + b)^7 x (x + c)^3 to expand out, I would sigh just because once you've done (a+b)^4 x (x+c)^3, it gets a little old.

    But thinking like if I try that I might fail? It's usually for me, due to some initial failures and then giving up even when I know that I might just succeed on the next try, no real need to waste my time trying is I have more failures than successes,unless I am guaranteed a payoff.
  11. Jun 20, 2008 #10
    Assume, everyone loves to work and none of us is lazy and we don't have cars yet.

    Would we think of making life easier by making cars (so that we don't have to walk long distances - no one complains)?

    I don't know if it is right, but everything that we invent is to make our lives easier. So, we seem to be naturally lazy like water (it always takes the shortest possible distance)/nature
  12. Jun 20, 2008 #11


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I *LOVE* ancient Icelandic sagas. I'll bet you will find more people that love to work out math problems than are into the

    The Laxdale Saga

    Chapter 1 - Of Ketill Flatnose and his Descendants, 9th Century A.D.
    Ketill Flatnose was the name of a man. He was the son of Bjorn the Ungartered. Ketill was a mighty and high-born chieftain (hersir) in Norway. He abode in Raumsdale, within the folkland of the Raumsdale people, which lies between Southmere and Northmere. Ketill Flatnose had for wife Yngvild, daughter of Ketill Wether, who was a man of exceeding great worth. They had five children; one was named Bjorn the Eastman, and another Helgi Bjolan. Thorunn the Horned was the name of one of Ketill's daughters, who was the wife of Helgi the Lean, son of Eyvind Eastman, and Rafarta, daughter of Kjarval, the Irish king. Unn "the Deep-minded" was another of Ketill's daughters, and was the wife of Olaf the White, son of Ingjald, who was son of Frodi the Valiant, who was slain by the Svertlings. Jorunn, "Men's Wit-breaker," was the name of yet another of Ketill's daughters. She was the mother of Ketill the Finn, who settled on land at Kirkby. His son was Asbjorn, father of Thorstein, father of Surt, the father of Sighat the Speaker-at-Law.


    People will do what they enjoy doing, some people find throwong themselves into a difficult math problem very rewarding. I should know, I dated a Math major at Rice university. :grumpy:
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  13. Jun 20, 2008 #12
    I hate TV. To be honest, I rather study than not. I wish I were in school right now.
  14. Jun 20, 2008 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    But I really do fear those things and do I say panic attack?

    Well I do watch some junk on TV but I love NATURE and NOVA and the news...that's the tv I watch. (about it) I read my chemistry book in my spare time. ^____^
  15. Jun 20, 2008 #14


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The moment I mention nuclear, I used to be asked if I did nuclear weapons. These days I get questions about some pop sci article on something nuclear, usually nuclear power or nuclear waste.
  16. Jun 20, 2008 #15
    it almost sounds like 'scientists and people who work in science are normal human beings' are the only normal ones, and everyone else is messed up
  17. Jun 20, 2008 #16
    I agree with you, but I didn't want to take too strong of a position. ;p
  18. Jun 20, 2008 #17
    Just because I don't like math doesn't mean I don't like to think. Most of my favourite pass times include alot of thought. I throw myself into them and enjoy myself alot.
  19. Jun 20, 2008 #18
    I would sigh... why would anyone want to do that? What joy is there in simplifying that expression? What point is there in simplifying that expression? Give us a real math problem, one that makes us think, and is interesting, and you'll see (especially here) that there will be numerous people that are interested.
  20. Jun 21, 2008 #19
    You might want to broaden your definition of thinking. It's not limited to math calculations and homework. Someone creating a meal can be performing intense thought and creativity. Open your own ideas a bit and you'll see a whole bunch more thinking going on around you.

    I have a bit of a quibble with you lisab. I routinely have people announce to me how bad they are at spelling and grammar and simultaneously announce that they don't care or think it's important. I also hear people turn their nose up and say they have better things to do with their time than read.

    I don't necessarily think it's any more acceptable for people to happily claim to be bad at math than other disciplines.
  21. Jun 21, 2008 #20
    I have to agree. If you go on myspace there's a section for books under interests and I'd say about 90% of the people whose pages I have browsed through have nothing there or it just says "magazines". Then there are the few that put the title of the one book they ever read that they enjoyed (probably made to read it in highschool or some thing). Very few have a substantial listing in that catagory.
    The thing that scared me the most was meeting a woman at a bar who was a high school american history teacher and said that she didn't like to read.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Why do we fear thinking?
  1. Why do we sleep? (Replies: 3)

  2. Do we really think? (Replies: 4)

  3. Why do we exist? (Replies: 41)

  4. Why do we care (Replies: 2)

  5. Why do we stress? (Replies: 1)