Math-intensive education hasn’t done much for Russia, as it turns out. But historical counterexamples don’t seem to interest the latest generation of crisis-mongers. We’ve once again gotten ourselves caught up in a strangely self-destructive statistical cold war with other high-achieving countries. The recruits are young teenagers, their ammunition the little bubbles on standardized tests. America’s technological future hinges, say the rigorists, on whether our student population can plug-and-chug the binomial theorem better than, say, Korean or Finnish or German or Chinese students. The childishness of this hypernationalistic mentality depresses me, and I want it to end, and I am not alone.