# Martin Gardner

recreational mathematician and philosopher

**Martin Gardner** (October 21, 1914 – May 22, 2010) was an American recreational mathematician, magician, skeptic, and author of the long-running "Mathematical Games" column in *Scientific American* from 1956 to 1981.

## Contents

## QuotesEdit

**A surprising proportion of mathematicians are accomplished musicians. Is it because music and mathematics share patterns that are beautiful?**- The Dover Math and Science Newsletter May 16, 2011

**I can say this. I believe that the human mind, or even the mind of a cat, is more interesting in its complexity than an entire galaxy if it is devoid of life.***Martin Gardner, puzzle master extraordinaire*obituary by Colm Mulcahy, BBC News Magazine, October 21, 2014

**Mathematical magic combines the beauty of mathematical structure with the entertainment value of a trick.***Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery*(1956), p. ix

**The last level of metaphor in the**At the heart of things science finds only a mad, never-ending quadrille of Mock Turtle Waves and Gryphon Particles.*Alice*books is this: that life, viewed rationally and without illusion, appears to be a nonsense tale told by an idiot mathematician.**For a moment the waves and particles dance in grotesque, inconceivably complex patterns capable of reflecting on their own absurdity.**- Introduction to
*The Annotated Alice*(1960) //*The Annotated Alice. The Definitive Edition*(1999), by Lewis Carroll (Author, Christ Church College, Oxford), John Tenniel (Illustrated by), Martin Gardner (Editor, Introduction and notes by), page viii

- Introduction to

**There are, and always have been, destructive pseudo-scientific notions linked to race and religion; these are the most widespread and damaging.**Hopefully, educated people can succeed in shedding light into these areas of prejudice and ignorance, for as Voltaire once said: "Men will commit atrocities as long as they believe absurdities."- Bernard Sussman, "Exclusive Interview with Martin Gardner",
*Southwind*(Miami-Dade Junior College), Vol. 3, No. 1 (Fall 1968)

- Bernard Sussman, "Exclusive Interview with Martin Gardner",

**In many cases a dull proof can be supplemented by a geometric analogue so simple and beautiful that the truth of a theorem is almost seen at a glance.**- "Mathematical Games", in
*Scientific American*(October 1973); also quoted in Roger B. Nelson,*Proofs Without Words: Exercises in Visual Thinking*(1993), "Introduction", p. v

- "Mathematical Games", in

- Biographical history, as taught in our public schools, is still largely a history of boneheads: ridiculous kings and queens, paranoid political leaders, compulsive voyagers, ignorant generals — the flotsam and jetsam of historical currents.
**The men who radically altered history, the great scientists and mathematicians, are seldom mentioned, if at all.**- From a book review in
*The New York Times*(9 May 1976), also quoted in*The American Mathematical Monthly*(December 1994)

- From a book review in

**I've never made a discovery myself, unless by accident.**If you write glibly, you fool people. When I first met Asimov, I asked him if he was a professor at Boston University. He said no and … asked me where I got my Ph.D. I said I didn't have one and he looked startled. "You mean you're in the same racket I am," he said, "you just read books by the professors and rewrite them?" That's really what I do.- Quoted in Sally Helgeson, "Every Day",
*Bookletter*, Vol. 3, No. 8 (6 December 1976), p. 8

- Quoted in Sally Helgeson, "Every Day",

**There is still a difference between something and nothing, but it is purely geometrical and there is nothing behind the geometry.***The Mathematical Magic Show*(1978)

**Ever since I was a boy, I've been fascinated by crazy science and such things as perpetual motion machines and logical paradoxes.**I've always enjoyed keeping up with those ideas. I suppose I didn't get into it seriously until I wrote my first book,*Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science*. I was influenced by the Dianetics movement, now called Scientology, which was then promoted by John Campbell in*Astounding Science Fiction*. I was astonished at how rapidly the thing had become a cult.- "Interview: Martin Gardner" by Scot Morris in
*Omni*, Vol. 4, No. 4 (January 1982)

- "Interview: Martin Gardner" by Scot Morris in

- As I have often said, electrons and gerbils don't cheat. People do.
- "Science: Why I Am Not A Paranormalist", in
*The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener*(1983)

- "Science: Why I Am Not A Paranormalist", in

- Ideologues of all persuasions think they know how the economy will respond to the Administration's strange mixture of Lafferism and monetarism. Indeed, their self-confidence is so vast, and their ability to rationalize so crafty, that one cannot imagine a scenario for the next few years, that they would regard as falsifying their dogma.
**The failure of any prediction can always be blamed on quirky political decisions or unforeseen historical events.**- "The Laffer Curve",
*Knotted Doughnuts and other Mathematical Entertainments*(1986)

- "The Laffer Curve",

**The greatest scandal of the century in American psychiatry … is the growing mania among thousands of inept therapists, family counselors, and social workers for arousing false memories of childhoood sexual abuse.**

- Although Lewis Carroll thought of
*The Hunting of the Snark*as a nonsense ballad for children, it is hard to imagine—in fact one shudders to imagine—a child of today reading and enjoying it.*The Annotated Snark*(1962), Introduction, p. 15

**Debunking bad science should be constant obligation of the science community, even if it takes time away from serious research or seems to be a losing battle.**One takes comfort from the fact there is no Gresham's laws in science. In the long run, good science drives out bad.*The Night Is Large*(1996), Introduction to Part III, Pseudoscience p. 171

## Quotes about GardnerEdit

**His "Mathematical Games" column in***Scientific American*is one of the few bridges over C. P. Snow's famous "gulf of mutual incomprehension" that lies between technical and literary cultures.- Dana Richards, "Martin Gardner: A 'Documentary' ", in
*The Mathematician and the Pied Puzzler: A collection in tribute to Martin Gardner*(1999), ed. Elwyn Berlekamp and Tom Rodgers, p. 9

- Dana Richards, "Martin Gardner: A 'Documentary' ", in

**He writes about various kinds of cranks with the conscious superiority of the scientist, and in most cases one can share his sense of the victory of reason.**But after half a dozen chapters this non-stop superiority begins to irritate; you begin to wonder about the standards that make him so certain he is always right.**He asserts that the scientist, unlike the crank, does his best to remain open-minded. So how can he be so sure that no sane person has ever seen a flying saucer, or used a dowsing rod to locate water? And that all the people he disagrees with are unbalanced fanatics?**A colleague of the positivist philosopher A. J. Ayer once remarked wryly "I wish I was as certain of anything as he seems to be about everything".**Martin Gardner produces the same feeling.**- Colin Wilson, in
*The Quest For Wilhelm Reich*(1981), p. 2

- Colin Wilson, in

**Gardner is the single brightest beacon defending rationality and good science against the mysticism and anti-intellectualism that surround us.**- Stephen Jay Gould in
*Martin Gardner, Puzzler and Polymath, Dies at 95*The New York Times, May 23, 2010

- Stephen Jay Gould in

**He was not a mathematician—he never even took a maths class after high school—yet Martin Gardner, who has died aged 95, was arguably the most influential and inspirational figure in mathematics in the second half of the last century.**- Alex Bellos in
*Martin Gardner obituary*The Guardian, May 27, 2010

- Alex Bellos in

## See alsoEdit

## External linksEdit

- Encyclopedic article on Martin Gardner at Wikipedia
- Media related to Martin Gardner at Wikimedia Commons
- An Interview with Martin Gardner
- Works by or about Martin Gardner in libraries (WorldCat catalog)