You copyeditors. You were English majors in college. You excelled at analyzing literature and were great writers but squeaked by in math. In college you took Geology for DumbFucks* instead of Calculus. So what do you do when you come across math in something you are editing?
But after that, you need to settle your phobic ass down and check the math. Obviously you don’t have to solve complex equations, but if percentages are calculated in the text, you have to check the math. It’s your job.
Do it twice.
Hell, do it ten times if you need to. No one needs to know that you added 2 + 2 twenty five times because you kept getting the wrong answer.
Know what you can do and what you can’t do.
While you might have to go outside your comfort zone, you don’t have to go outside your knowledge base. Do not attempt anything that you really don’t understand. If you get it wrong you will undermine your credibility as an editor (no pressure here). So come up with a nice competent sounding query: Ed: Please check this ordinary differential equation. or Ed: Please note that this ordinary differential equation has not been checked for accuracy.
There might be a voice in your head saying “NOOOOOOOOOO.” Kill it. It is not helping you. You are a competent smart individual. You do your own taxes. You balanced your checkbook once when you were sixteen. You can calculate tip at the bar. A tiny bit of confidence will help you through this problem.
Use your calculator
Your fancy schmancy phone has a calculator. Your computer probably has a calculator. Use it. No one has to know that you used a machine to add 2 and 2.
What do you do?
*Please note: I love geology, so don’t get your flannel shirts in a bunch.