Scott McMahan
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Calculus Demystified (Homeschool, etc)
TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2006
Posted by: Scott McMahan | more..
One reason I don't have much time for blog entries now is I'm brushing up on my math because I haven't done much with it in a decade, and need to get into some areas where facility with math would be helpful. This experience may help homeschoolers or someone like me know what to purchase.

In general, I like the new Demystified series from McGraw-Hill. I would recommend anything in the series except their book on Calculus. The goal of the Demystified series is to give a step-by-step walkthrough of the subject at a slower and more detailed pace than most textbooks, making this series a great supplement for students in traditional classes and people learning on their own. The algebra book, for example, is outstanding in this respect.

I don't know of any Calculus book which crams limits, the formula for the derivative, the derivative itself, the mechanical process of calculating the derivative, the rules (chain rule, etc), and derivatives of functions (trig, etc) into a single chapter. Chapter 2 is almost like detonating a bomb it's so packed with dense material. This chapter is more opaque than "real" Calculus books like Finney/Thomas. It's the opposite of the Demystified series in every way. There are no simple examples.

The exercises are awful. In chapter two, I simply gave up. The first group of exercises asks for you to compute limits using limits you will not learn until chapter five. Even a "real" Calculus book wouldn't ask you to do that. The next group of exercises asks you to demonstrate if a function is continuous or not, and the examples are bizarre, and the author's explanations of how he got his answers are so opaque they make no sense. Two examples are identical, but the author gets different results for both, with no explanation. (I wonder if there is a misprint in one of them.) The exercises do not allow you to test whether you have mastered the material. They have a lot of weird stuff that is more suitable for advanced classes.

I'm disappointed by this entry into the Demystified lineup. These books are quite expensive for their category (although dirt cheap compared to textbooks). I can't believe the Calculus book wasn't "beta tested" by real students who could tell them how inadequate it was.

Category:  Science

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Why Evolution (Abiogenesis) Can't Be Correct
TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2006
Posted by: Scott McMahan | more..
1 user comments
The word "evolution" is too broad to be meaningful. It's like saying "Christian" and talking about Reformed, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, and Southern Baptists. What I'm talking about is abiogenesis, which means life (bios) starting (genesis) out...
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