When I was about 10 or 12 I went to my Dad’s office with him at CDC. He had to work on a project and I thought it was cool to hang out at his office in a real laboratory. I have a feeling that I was a lot like Noah an I was probably asking him far too many questions. Rather than just shut me out completely he looked for something that would keep my interest and yet still allow him to have an independent thought. He had a book on his desk that he handed me to read while I waited for him to finish his project.
The book was Aha Gotcha by Martin Gardner. It was a really fun read about several mathematical paradoxes and logical fallacies. Gardner used some very simple stick figures to illustrate each problem. This made it very appealing for a geeky little boy. The science was very deep but the cartoons made it fun to read.
This book was my first introduction to the concept of critical thinking. I frequently fall back on the lessons I learned by reading it. Gardner teaches us to not accept things at face value and look a little deeper into the problem and try to find the real solution and not just the paradox that you first perceive. I get a little chuckle when I see a magic trick and realize that I know the core of trick thanks to Gardner.
I was saddened by the news that Martin Gardner had died this weekend. I need to be sure that I do my part to make sure his legacy lives on. Yesterday I pulled my dad’s copy of Aha Gotcha off the shelf and thumbed through it. I’m gonna make a point to share it with my kids tonight.
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