I wonder, what are people doing with their brains most of the time? I suspect that most of the people I meet are intellectual couch potatoes, thinking only under duress. I wish you could tell who was smart just by looking at them (blondes excepted...).
Math in particular is of interest because so many otherwise sharp people seem to have trouble with it. Sorry folks, but most of math is about paying attention to what you are doing and following the rules, with about 1% inspiration. The occasional oddball geometry proof or differential equation may take a bit more ingenuity, but if you try enough things you'll probably get there. It definitely does not cause a taste for pocket protectors or loss of social skills - get over it.
But it seems like everyday math skills are going down the tubes, even after taking calculators into account. It's getting to be a political problem.
I don't suppose we'll ever have cheerleaders for the chess and math clubs or the debate squad. The day may never come when a young girl will look in the mirror and decide she's not smart enough. Maybe we'd be better off if they did.