Posted by: CJ | March 28, 2009

On dating mathematicians, economists, and lawyers…

While talking to a friend several weeks ago on dating different types of majors, we realized three of the more difficult majors to date are math, pre-law, and econ. The reason is simple: they know how to abuse language, specifically the details.

You see, many majors know how to abuse language. Humanities majors and social science majors certainly do. But, generally, those majors abuse language using sweeping rhetoric or bait-and-switch techniques, things that are simple to ignore or spot if you’re merely on guard. Econ, pre-law, and math majors are much more subtle. Their entire academic training revolves around minor details in word ordering, word choice, audience, arrangement of ideas/data, and most especially how to say things which are entirely true, utterly irrelevant, and powerfully misleading.

This can make econ, pre-law, and math majors very difficult to deal with in a relationship. Properly trained, they can mislead their partner in ways that are hard to avoid. If the partner is upset about an actual problem, something that needs to be dealt with, the econ/pre-law/math major knows ways of discussing it without actually dealing with the issue. By saying the right phrases, they can comfort their partner by convincing them something actually has been accomplished. This sort of behavior is a slow, painful death to any relationship because, in the long-term, it will sacrifice necessary long-term changes in favor of easy short-term solutions.

And, of course, all of the above problems generalize to anyone with a flair for paying attention to the minor details of wording. More generally, a good working knowledge of how to finely parse wordings is a wonderful tool for the passive-aggresive. Unlike simplying agreeing to do things and then not doing them, finely parsed sentences can be constructed so that it merely seems like you’re agreeing. In fact you did no such thing. Then it suddenly becomes the fault of the listener for not listening closely enough, instead of the passive-aggressive speaker for agreeing to do something and then not following through.

These are majors to avoid dating unless you want a challenge. Well, they were all already majors to avoid because you can’t major in econ, pre-law, or math without publicly declaring your visceral distaste for humanity. But this gives a slightly more tangible reason.

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Responses

  1. ….a slightly tangible reason that involves using words to amuse and divert….

  2. Details, ironic details….

  3. I wouldn’t have pinned that on math majors. Then again, I did date once and it was pretty rocky.

  4. Well, the problem with math majors is they tend to have social issues which are more apparent than their ability to bend words. But these are people that can spend years obsessing over whether some convergence is one of at least 5 or so common varieties or not. And where there are all sorts of implications based on where certain words in a theorem statement are placed. They’re certainly capable of it, as long as they’re capable of interacting with other people normally at all.


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