> At social gatherings when people ask what you do, if you say > mathematics, they'll often respond that they hate math or were > terrible at in school, etc. Kind of a rude response I think, as I > wouldn't come out and so openly diss someone's profession like that. > And somewhat of a humorous response, since few people would think to > confess that they were bad at English or could barely read or put > together a coherent sentence, and yet they so gleefully volunteer that > they are bad at math.
Since mathematicians spend their days carrying out ever more complicated calculations, solving polynomial equations and what not, the reaction of these people you mention is a only very natural, the mathematicians' work being so blatantly dreary.
>I'm curious how people who do math respond to those types of comments.
I usually mutter something on the lines of
"Well, it's not everyone's cup of tea. In any case, what I do probably has very little to do with what you think of as 'math'."
and move on to some topic of mutual interest, if any can be had. It's pointless to get one's knickers in a twist over such things.
-- Aatu Koskensilta (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Wovon man nicht sprechan kann, darüber muss man schweigen" - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus