- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 8, 2000

Bruce Fein, in his July 6 Commentary, "Law … or nonsense," says that mathematical problems "yield but one answer …"That's a major boo-boo. High schoolers learn (or at any rate used to learn) that math problems can and often do yield more than one answer. What's the square root of nine? There are two answers: plus three and minus three. Moreover, this answer is both one thing and the other, not either-or.The fact that such formulations can give more than one result is the basis of much of modern science. Understanding this, and being able to keep two opposite ideas in mind simultaneously, are not (F. Scott Fitzgerald to the contrary) the marks of su

erior intelligence. They are merely things students learn in order to be able to work in advanced fields.Law, a

arently, is not one of them, which would ex

lain a great deal about that

rofession. Thus, while Mr. Fein's

oint about recent Su

reme Court decisions is essentially on target, his illustrative analogies are not even close.JOHN S. MASON JR.Alexandria



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