Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
TUESDAY 19 MARCH 2002
120. So it would be better to do only the maths
you need for the science you are doing, not do it as a sort detached
(Clare Dawe) Yes.
(Tim Crocker-Buque) Although maths on its own is still
useful and it is very important to do maths as a subject on its
own. If you just do maths for chemistry or maths for physics,
you miss out on lots of important maths which may come into use
later in life.
121. Like what?
(Tim Crocker-Buque) For degree level. You miss out,
for example, calculus if you do not do maths on its own. You miss
out on a lot of that because it is not relevant to science at
A-level. When you get to degree level, if you have not got a basis
in maths then you will have to learn it all then. So maths on
its own is still a very, very useful subject.
122. Do you think, Rubens, that people are not
knowledgeable enough about maths?
(Rubens Reis) I think they should be more knowledgeable.
123. What use would it be to them?
(Rubens Reis) You can end up with a good job with
maths by itself, so I think people should learn maths on its own
and also for science.
124. Do you think, for instance, if you take
something like the controversial MMR vaccine, people have the
attitude, "I am not absolutely certain it is safe, therefore
I am not going to have it." Should that person learn more
maths or not?
(Rubens Reis) No, I think that is more ethics. That
does not fall into maths.
125. That is not a maths issue? Do you think
it is at this moment? It is okay to say no.
(Tim Crocker-Buque) No, I do not think that comes
126. The evaluation of risk?
(Tim Crocker-Buque) It is a statistical thing.
127. You just told me you were doing that. What
about you, Clare? Do you think that is true?
(Clare Dawe) I have been told to say yes!
128. We do that as well.
(Clare Dawe) In some ways yes but, as they were saying,
maths is only useful if that is what you want to go into. It gives
you a good basis for most things but if you want to do an English
degree then it is not going to be that much use. Most every day
situations include a little bit of maths, but as long as you have
got the basics there you can always improve on them. As long as
you understand the basics then you can work with the basics.
129. Thank you for your answers and for taking
on a very difficult subject. Well done.
(Clare Dawe) Thank you.