|Born||October 21, 1914
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
|Residence||Norman, Oklahoma, USA|
|Known for||Puzzles, popular mathematics, stage magic, debunking|
Martin Gardner (born October 21, 1914, Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, pseudoscience, literature (especially the writings of Lewis Carroll), philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion. He wrote the Mathematical Games column in Scientific American from 1956 to 1981, and he has published over 70 books.
Gardner reportedly coined the term mathemagician.
Martin Gardner grew up in and around Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he attended college at the University of Chicago, where he earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy. During World War II, he served for several years in the U.S. Navy as a yeoman (the ship's secretary) on board the destroyer escort USS Pope (DE-134) in the Atlantic, as Gardner states several times in his writings. His ship was still in the Atlantic when the war came to an end with the surrender of Japan in August 1945.
After the war, Gardner attended college at the University of Chicago again. He also attended graduate school for a year there, but he did not earn an advanced degree. Gardner states this in his own writings.
For many decades, Gardner, his wife Charlotte, and their two sons lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, where he earned his living as an independent author, publishing books with several different publishers, and also publishing hundreds of magazine articles and newspaper articles in various magazines and newspapers. Either by choice or coincidence (given his interest in logic and mathematics), they lived on Euclid Avenue. In 1979, he and his wife semi-retired and moved to Hendersonville, North Carolina. His wife died in 2000.
In the early 1950s, he was editor of Humpty Dumpty Magazine, and wrote features and stories for several children's magazines. His paper-folding puzzles at that magazine (sister publication to Jack and Jill magazine) led to his first work at Scientific American.
Gardner more or less single-handedly renewed and nurtured interest in recreational mathematics in North America for a large part of the 20th century. He is best known for his decades-long efforts in popular mathematics and science journalism, particularly through his "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American.
Gardner had problems learning calculus and never took a mathematics course beyond high school. He was the editor of a children's magazine named "Humpty Dumpty" in 1956 when he was asked by the publisher of Scientific American about the possibility of starting a regular column about recreational mathematics, following his submission of an article about flexagons.
The "Mathematical Games" column ran from 1956 to 1981 and introduced many subjects to a wider audience, including:
Many of these articles have been collected in a series of books starting with "Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions" first published in 1956.
In 1981, on Gardner's retirement from Scientific American, the column was replaced by Douglas Hofstadter's "Metamagical Themas", a name that is an anagram of "Mathematical Games". Gardner has never really retired as an author, but rather he continues to do literature research and to write, especially in updating many of his older books, such as Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube, ISBN 978-0-521-73524-7, published 2008.
Gardner also wrote a "puzzle" story column for (Isaac) Asimov's Science Fiction magazine for a while in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Gardner's uncompromising attitude toward pseudoscience made him one of the world's foremost anti-pseudoscience polemicists of the 20th century. His book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (1952, revised 1957) is a classic and seminal work of the skeptical movement. It explored a myriad of dubious outlooks and projects including Fletcherism, creationism, organic farming, Charles Fort, Rudolf Steiner, Scientology, Dianetics, UFOs, dowsing, extra-sensory perception, the Bates method, and psychokinesis. This book and his subsequent efforts (Science: Good, Bad and Bogus, 1981; Order and Surprise, 1983, etc) earned him a wealth of detractors and antagonists in the fields of "fringe science" and New Age philosophy with many of whom he kept up running dialogs (both public and private) for decades.
In 1976, Gardner was a founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), and he wrote a column called "Notes of a Fringe Watcher" (originally "Notes of a Psi-Watcher") from 1983 to 2002 for that organization's periodical Skeptical Inquirer. These have been collected in five books: New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher (1988), On the Wild Side (1992), Weird Water and Fuzzy Logic (1996), Did Adam and Eve Have Navels (2000), and Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries (2003). Gardner is a senior CSICOP fellow and prominent skeptic of the paranormal.
Gardner has had an abiding fascination in religious belief. He is a theist and professes belief in God, although he is critical of organized religion. He has been quoted as saying that he regards parapsychology and other research into the paranormal as tantamount to "tempting God" and seeking "signs and wonders". He has, however, said that he feels it might be possible that prayers may be genuinely answered. They may minutely affect mathematical probabilities.
Gardner has written repeatedly about what public figures such as Robert Maynard Hutchins, Mortimer Adler, and William F. Buckley, Jr. believed and whether their beliefs were logically consistent. In some cases, he has attacked prominent religious figures such as Mary Baker Eddy on the grounds that their claims are unsupportable. His semi-autobiographical novel The Flight of Peter Fromm depicts a traditionally Protestant Christian man struggling with his faith, examining 20th century scholarship and intellectual movements and ultimately rejecting Christianity while remaining a theist. He describes his own belief as philosophical theism inspired by the theology of the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno and impossible to confirm or disconfirm by reason. At the same time, he is skeptical of claims that God has communicated with human beings through spoken or telepathic revelation or through miracles in the natural world.
Gardner's philosophy may be summarized as follows: There is nothing supernatural, and nothing in human reason or visible in the world to compel people to believe in God. The mystery of existence is enchanting, but a belief in "The Old One" comes from faith without evidence. However, with faith and prayer people can find greater happiness than without. If there is an afterlife, the loving "Old One" is probably real. "[To an atheist] the universe is the most exquisite masterpiece ever constructed by nobody", from G. K. Chesterton, is one of Gardner's favorite quotes.
Gardner has said that he suspects that the fundamental nature of human consciousness may not be knowable or discoverable, unless perhaps a physics more profound than ("underlying") quantum mechanics is some day developed. In this regard, he says, he is an adherent of the "New Mysterianism".
Gardner is considered an authority on Lewis Carroll. He has written three annotated versions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland because he kept learning more about Carroll. While he found the Alice books 'sort of frightening' when he was young, he found them fascinating as an adult. The annotated versions are: The Annotated Alice (Clarkson Potter, 1960), More Annotated Alice (Random House, 1990), and Annotated Alice, The Definitive Edition (Norton, 1999). His viewpoint has recently come under some criticism from the proponents of the "Carroll Myth"; Gardner has hit back very aggressively against the most famous of these—Karoline Leach—in a recent issue of Knight Letter, the journal of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America.
In addition to his Carroll books, Gardner has produced “Annotated” editions of Chesterton’s The Innocence Of Father Brown and The Man Who Was Thursday as well as of celebrated poems including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Casey at the Bat and The Night Before Christmas.
Gardner has occasionally tried his hand at fiction of a kind always closely associated with his non-fictional preoccupations (e.g., Visitors from Oz (1998), based on L. Frank Baum's Oz books, and stories about an imaginary numerologist named Dr. Matrix). His short stories are collected in The No-Sided Professor and Other Tales of Fantasy, Humor, Mystery, and Philosophy (1987).
In addition to his expository writing about mathematics, Gardner has been an avid controversialist on contemporary issues, arguing for his points of view in a wide range of fields, from general semantics to fuzzy logic to watching TV (he once wrote a negative review of Jerry Mander's book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television). His philosophical views are described and defended in his book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.
Gardner is well known for his sometimes controversial philosophy of mathematics. He wrote negative reviews of The Mathematical Experience by Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh and What is mathematics, really? by Hersh, both of which were critical of aspects of mathematical Platonism, and the first of which was well-received by the mathematical community. While Gardner is often perceived as a hard-core Platonist, his reviews demonstrate some formalist tendencies. Gardner maintains that his views are widespread among mathematicians, but Hersh has countered that in his experience as a professional mathematician and speaker, this is not the case.
Note: Gardner has a number of books on magic written "for the trade", which are not listed here.
Fifteen books together—what Don Knuth calls "the Canon"-- encompass Martin Gardner's columns from Scientific American:
Three other books collect some or all of Martin Gardner's columns from Scientific American:
Martin Gardner (born October 21, 1914) is an American recreational mathematician, magician, skeptic, and author of the long-running but now discontinued "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American.
October 21, 1914|
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
May 22, 2010 (aged 95)|
Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.
BA, University of Chicago|
1 yr graduate classes (Philosophy; Univ of Chicago)
|Known for||Puzzles, popular mathematics, stage magic, debunking|
Martin Gardner (October 21, 1914 –May 22, 2010) was an American writer. He had many interests, so he wrote about many topics. He wrote about mathematics, magic, literature, philosophy, skepticism, and religion. He wrote the "Mathematical Games" column in the Scientific American magazine from 1956 to 1981. After that, he wrote the "Notes of a Fringe Watcher" column in the Skeptical Inquirer magazine. He published over 70 books.
Note: Gardner also wrote some books on magic for professional magicians. These books are not listed here.
Martin Gardner's columns from Scientific American are printed in 15 books. Don Knuth calls these books "the Canon".
Three other books print some or all of Martin Gardner's columns from Scientific American:
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||American recreational mathematician, magician, skeptic, and magazine columnist|
|DATE OF BIRTH||October 21, 1914|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|DATE OF DEATH||May 22, 2010|
|PLACE OF DEATH||Norman, Oklahoma|