Tuesday, March 09, 2010

1+1 DOES NOT =3

A few thoughts on facts, lies, disagreement, argument and controversy.

I’ll start with a self-evident fact. 1+1=2. There’s no shades of grey there, it’s a simple, irrefutable mathematical fact that 1+1=2. Now imagine someone comes along and wants to propose that 1+1 in fact =4. I don’t know why they want to assert something so ridiculous. Maybe a magic bloke in the sky told them. Or maybe they have a book that they declare is the divine word of this magic bloke in the sky despite the fact it’s nothing more than a bunch of fairy stories invented centuries ago to scare illiterate goat herders into behaving themselves.

Whatever. They’re being very loud about their belief that 1+1=4. No amount of evidence will sway them. The fact that every credible mathematician in the world tells them that, no, your point of view isn’t valid, 1+1 is definitely 2 doesn’t even slow them down. They trot out someone they call a “creation mathematician” who says that because the magic bloke in the sky created everything including numbers, whatever he says about numbers must be true, therefore 1+1=4.

The actual mathematicians spend a bit of time trying to think of the most polite way to say “Fuck off and leave us alone you deranged, inbred fuckwit”. In the meantime, some other people who believe in the magic bloke in the sky start to think the creation mathematicians are onto something. “I’ve never understood mathematics, I’ve failed every maths test I’ve taken in my life. I reckon it’s because the mathematicians are wrong. All that complicated thinking is just there to confuse us. I believe the magic bloke in the sky says 1+1=4.”

It never occurs to them that the reason they don’t understand mathematics is that they are really fucking stupid. Likewise, not understanding mathematics is a good indication you should leave it to the mathematicians rather than shouting that the simpler thing you’ve decided you believe in is more valid.

Soon, politicians start to latch onto creation mathematics. They’ve known for years that it’s easier to get ten morons to vote for them than it is to get one smart person on their side. They have all had expensive educations at the most prestigious universities in the country and they know creation mathematics is fucking insane. They also know how much the inbred yokels lap it up when they talk about being simple folk who believe in the same “down home” values.

So it starts to be put about that creation mathematics should be part of the school curriculum. Because so many uninformed morons believe it, it should be taught alongside mathematical principles that have been proven by the greatest thinkers in history. Because the blatherings of clueless fuckwits have the same validity as the output of the finest minds known to humanity – what are you, an elitist or something?

Most maths teachers jack up at this saying “creation mathematics” isn’t mathematics and has no place in a classroom because it’s fucking voodoo. The weasel politicians say you should "teach the controversy" despite the fact the only controversy is the fact that morons whose outlook belongs more in the middle ages think they deserve to be taken seriously.

Then someone suggests a compromise, maybe we should follow the middle ground. Maybe neither "extreme" is right. This is bullshit for a couple of reasons. First, there's only one extreme here - the extreme stupidity in believing in superstitious rubbish like creation mathematics over science. Second, the two viewpoints are not equally valid. The rantings of an ignorant fool who believes in a magic bloke in the sky simply don't belong in the same place as the works of someone following rigorous scientific and/or academic process.

In short, a compromise would be saying 1+1=3 and that simply isn't right. There are times when compromise is a good thing (in fact, this is probably the case most of the time) but sometimes it is simply not a legitimate option. Sometimes one answer is absolutely right and one asnwer is absolutely wrong. 1+1 will never =3.

Obviously, nothing as stupid as this could happen in the real world, I was using this fictional example to illustrate a point. I'm a very reasonable person (despite some performances that may suggest otherwise). I know some people can't tell the difference between a performance and real life but trust me, in real life I'm likely to go out of my way to avoid offending someone. But I won't back away from a fight when some fucking moron wants to fly in the face of reality with their stupid ideology.

So don't expect me to "respect" someone who doesn't deserve any respect. Sometimes people are so ignorant, so duplicitous and so WRONG that contempt is all they deserve. And I have to admit, I enjoy dishing it out.

No comments: