The human brain acts like an indexing system to help compose the meaning of abstract concepts.
The average American can assess mathematical arguments for beauty just as they can for art or music. Using nine criteria for beauty, including elegance, intricacy, and universality, people were more likely to agree about the specific ways four different proofs were beautiful. The study sheds new light on broader issues in how and why humans have aesthetic experiences of abstract ideas.
Our knowledge of the world has a critical impact on the ability to use mathematical reasoning, even for mathematicians. Findings reveal math professionals can be duped by some aspects of their knowledge about the world and fail to solve simple fifth-grade math problems.