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Loving and Hating Mathematics by Reuben Hersh, Vera John-Steiner

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Mathematics as an Addiction:Following Logic to the End

The question is sometimes asked, To be a great mathematician, does being crazy help? The simple and straightforward answer is, No, of course not. Working in a university math department, or attending the meetings of the American Mathematical Society, one cannot help observing the pervasive normality. Still, there is something different about mathematicians compared to, say, chemists or geologists or even English professors. It is possible to be “crazy”—that is, conspicuously eccentric, very odd, even antisocial—and still hold a job as a math professor. Even, perhaps, as an industrial mathematician in certain organizations. If you are really good at solving hard problems and can communicate ...

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