Saturday, June 13, 2009

Journal of Biology editorial - Biologists Who Count

Editorial in a recent Journal of Biology discusses the debate about the importance of numeracy in the study of biology. First paragraph below. The title of this post is a link to the full text.

Biologists Who Count

Miranda Robertson

Journal of Biology 2009, 8:34doi:10.1186/jbiol146

Published: 27 May 2009

© 2009 BioMed Central Ltd


The importance of mathematics in biology is a matter of perennial debate. The squabbles of early 20th century geneticists on the value of mathematics to the study of evolution have recently been revisited in Journal of Biology [1], and the 21st century has seen an explosion of information from various -omics and imaging techniques that has provided fresh impetus to the arguments urging the need for mathematical competence in the life sciences [2]. While there can be no question about the contribution of mathematics to many fields in biology, there is a curious tendency on the part of numerate biologists (often immigrants from the physical sciences) to insist that it is an essential part of the equipment of a biologist and none should be without it. This seems, on the evidence, extreme.

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