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

Why math and science seem more challenging?

  1. Nov 2, 2013 #1
    Compared to other things we humans do like singing, acting, painting etc. why math and science seem tougher and more challenging (at least to me)?

    Acting, for example takes a lot of skill but somehow when compared to the sciences (natural and formal) it is less challenging. Is it me or does everyone feel the same?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Skills in science and maths have hardly any adaptive value at all.
  4. Nov 2, 2013 #3
    It's not, people are good at different things. I honestly think that people only have a mental block towards it because it's different (has greek letters and fancy lingo). I don't think science and math is harder than anythink else in life.
  5. Nov 2, 2013 #4
    People talk all the time, and singing is pretty similar. Going from talking to singing isn't a big leap, so it's not surprising it's not difficult for people to do it. People also listen to music a lot, so they know what harmony sounds like. So not only do they practice all the time, they get instruction from experts all the time.

    With acting, you can draw on your own experiences and give an ostensibly good performance based on your knowledge of what real behavior and dialog is like.

    Painting is just like writing, but a bit different. We write all the time, so we get a lot of experience there.

    None of this is true with math and science. Aside from adding and subtracting every once in a while, most people go through their entire lives without doing any math. They do science, but not calculations.
  6. Nov 2, 2013 #5
    So basically math and science are not intrinsic and we don't have a natural ability to do that while singing, acting etc. are natural / built-in among so it seems easier, right?
  7. Nov 2, 2013 #6
    I think this view is mainly created by the media and popular culture from 20th century up until now because of the giant leap in scientific discovery and technological advancements of the time. A subject like physics will sound challenging because people will immediately connect that to Albert Einstein, relativity, moon landing, atomic bombs and etc. Those are certainly something that is 'difficult', but when you actually learn those subject you don't get exposed to that directly, instead you will learn step by step from the simplest concept, like distance is speed multiplied by time. Something that I think everyone knows.

    Most people are in my opinion generally proficient in basic math and arithmetic without quite realizing it, because our everyday lives require it i.e you need to be able to calculate change, determine how much tips you want to pay and so on. Of course I don't deny that at times they can be tougher than other subjects mainly due to the abstraction and the unintuitive aspects in it. Say Newton first law is already unintuitive because you really don't encounter such behavior everyday. If you stop pushing your supermarket trolley, well it stops.

    For me personally singing is very challenging, not only because I don't have much knowledge in musical theory, but also because of the embarrassment I have to endure. Drawing can be quite difficult if you are not trained well. My friend who likes drawing manga even needs to learn human anatomy extensively and more in the college.

    There are also other subjects that are no less challenging than science and math; say languages for example. You obviously speak everyday, but can you master 6-5 languages fluently, know the intricacies of their grammars, idiom, different dialects and etc? There are people who devoted their time just to do that in linguistic study.
  8. Nov 2, 2013 #7
    I see science and math as SIMPLER than other skills because science and math has rules. Other skills are more abstract.
  9. Nov 2, 2013 #8
    I think they seem that way because they're relatively strange, but doing anything well is hard. Here I go bringing up art again, but I'm most bewildered by sculpture. I don't "get" good sculpture.


    How a human can create that is beyond me.

    I agree with this. As a civilization, we haven't gotten used to sciences to the same degree as other fields.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  10. Nov 2, 2013 #9
    Strange but yes, they are. You can most of the time immediately know whether your answer or your thinking is false or not. In other subjects that can be more subtler and perhaps requires more extensive experience from the learner.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook