As a physicist, I am fascinated by trying to quantify the world – to find the numbers that can represent what is going on in nature. People are hard to quantify most of the time, but trying to do so can be informative. Organizations like PolitiFact  offer a set of data about people – specifically, about politicians – that can allow us to create numbers to represent and understand those people. In this post, I discuss my own recent attempt to quantify the data collected by PolitiFact by constructing an “Verbal Honesty Score” for the remaining Democrat and Republican Presidential Candidates. I find that Donald Trump is, by far, the most verbally dishonest candidate… by a long shot, and by two measures of the same data. I find that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and John Kasich are the most verbally honest of the group, though who is more verbally honest differs by which of the two measures you want to use. For now, I assign no errors to the numbers though errors of a statistical nature are possible. I comment on errors of a systematic nature.
Tonight on “Humankind”, David Freudberg inteviewed Helen Thomas, the feisty and sharp White House reporter. At one point, expressing her frustration with the state of willingness of the American People, said that she wished that less math was being taught in school, in favor of more civics and history. This was a frightening statement. Math is a discipline, that (like science) teaches you to think critically about problem solving. That skill is as good for political problems as it is for numerical problems. I know she meant well by the comment, but in my opinion we need to engage kids in more math and science, as well as history and civics. I don’t see why there has to be less reason-based learned in favor of history-based learning. We should approach both subjects with the same engagement, and teach kids that the boundaries between classes are not the same as the boundaries between subjects.