511: Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes by Bryan Bunch

by Gerard


511.3: Bunch, Bryan. Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1997. 210 pp. ISBN 0-486-29664-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 510: Mathematics
  • 511: General principles of mathematics
  • 511.3: Mathematical logic

About every month or so, diagrams go around social media proving various paradoxes. From proving 2 = 3, or that certain infinite series converge to -1/12, these proofs often use fallacious logic or hidden steps to achieve their ends. Bryan Bunch’s Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes collects eight such examples to help broaden our understanding of both logic and math. Be wary, though, this is not for the faint heart.

Bunch’s paradoxical exploration looks at simple divide-by-zero proofs, then looks at linguistic and philosophical paradoxes, and on to geometrical oddities and ancient paradoxes (including Zeno’s paradox). Each one is a step up from the previous so as to ease the reader to the math involved. Bunch does, however, assume some level of mathematical literary on the part of the reader. Back in the day, I entertained the idea of becoming a mathematician, but my love of literature and language got the better of me. So, for me, Bunch’s collection was a little nostalgic, dusting off a few unused areas of my brain. All in all, it’s a perplexing book, but in a good way.