My choice of newspaper to read in the senior common room after lunch is a somewhat random process, depending on what is available. Today it was The Times. I noticed a trailer for an on-line poll on their website, on the question “In a decimal age, there is no need for fractions”. I didn’t manage to find the poll; if I do, I will put in a link, but I am not going to report here what the on-line community think about fractions.
Apparently this was provoked by a report which suggests that the racing industry should replace statements of odds such as 7-4 with decimal equivalents, since “young adults don’t understand fractions”.
But I have a better idea for them. Why not debate “Is 2+2=4, or would life be more fulfilling if the answer were 5?”
Fortunately these polls sink without trace. It would be nice to have a debate on the question “Should a quarter (sorry, 25%) of the credit in the next research assessment be given for short-term economic and social impact?”, but only if the government and civil service were under some obligation to take notice of the views expressed. Some chance!