Math announcement proves theorem (or something like that)

At the risk of sounding like a recalled Barbie® doll, I hate math. But that has nothing to do with my dismay at reading this passive headline and predictably (stereotypically?) dull lead from a Jan. 3, 2008, press release issued by the American Mathematical Society and other math organizations: 

Theme Announced for Mathematics Awareness Month April 2008: “Mathematics and Voting” 

Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) January 3, 2008 — The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) today announced “Mathematics and Voting” as the theme for Mathematics Awareness Month 2008.

 The math geeks could have had such fun with this! The rest of the release is in the same tone:  

In a presidential election year, the term “voting” brings to mind national elections. … Regardless of their involvement, however, most people wonder at some point: “Does my vote matter? Is the election process fair? Are the votes being counted correctly?” The answers to these questions are incredibly complex, but, fortunately, mathematics and statistics provide the means to deal with the complexity of how votes are cast and counted and how that influences the outcome. For example, statistics provides ways to identify, measure, and address sources of error, and mathematics provides insights into the effect of different voting systems on the outcome of an election.”

I assume the purpose of this endeavor is to get regular people excited about math by grabbing onto the coattails of what’s current and constantly in the news: the election. The problem? This writer forgot his or her audience, opting instead to use stilted language that reinforces the unapproachable nature of math to most of us.


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