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Title: Does mathematics look certain in the front, but fallible in the back?
Authors: Greiffenhagen, Christian
Sharrock, Wes
Keywords: Certainty
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: SAGE Publications © The Author(s)
Citation: GREIFFENHAGEN, C. and SHARROCK, W., 2011. Does mathematics look certain in the front, but fallible in the back? Social Studies of Science, 41 (6), pp. 839 - 866.
Abstract: In this paper we re-examine the implications of the differences between 'doing' and 'writing' science and mathematics, questioning whether the way that science and mathematics are presented in textbooks or research articles creates a misleading picture of these differences. We focus our discussion on mathematics, in particular on Reuben Hersh's formulation of the contrast in terms of Goffman's dramaturgical frontstage-backstage analogy and his claim that various myths about mathematics only fit with how mathematics is presented in the 'front', but not with how it is practised in the 'back'. By investigating examples of both the 'front' (graduate lectures in mathematical logic) and the 'back' (meetings between supervisor and doctoral students) we examine, first, whether the 'front' of mathematics presents a misleading picture of mathematics, and, second, whether the 'front' and 'back' of mathematics are so discrepant that mathematics really does look certain in the 'front', but fallible in the 'back'.
Description: This article was published in the journal, Social Studies of Science [SAGE Publications © The Author(s)] and the definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306312711424789
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1177/0306312711424789
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/13250
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306312711424789
ISSN: 0306-3127
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies)

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