As regular readers might recall, I was born without the math gene. I do not, upon finding myself gazing at a complicated equation running the length and breadth of a substantial black—or white (see? I’m hip!)—board apprehend the beauty and wonder of the universe. Oh, I’m quite good at basic math, and as a wood worker who has built, among many other things, a double manual harpsichord and guitars, a minor whiz at fractions, but algebra and beyond? You might as well ask me to translate Aramaic. Granted, I aced my college math requirements, but not because of an innate understanding of the concepts. Never, in working with higher math, did I suddenly exclaim: “of course! It’s all clear now!” It became easier, and my mind is surely more flexible and capable for making the effort, but no math epiphanies for me. I know how to study and take tests, and after a single test from a new teacher, usually know from what mindset and approach they write tests, which greatly lessens future study time.
That said, I do, from exposure to mathematicians, and from my readings in science and science fiction, have some understanding of the kind of intellect that gets math. And I know that even for those who do sometimes say “Of course! It’s all clear now!” math takes a great deal of concentration, brainpower and above all, time. How could it be otherwise? There are old theorems that still stymie the best math brains, and currently unimaginable new breakthroughs to be made. The math revolving around quantum mechanics is enough to reduce one to a gibbering idiot, but enough about Joe Biden… OK, OK, that was too cheap and easy, but I couldn’t resist. It’s the kind of thing one might expect from a non-math brain.
The point, gentle readers, is mathematicians should be more than busy enough dealing with…math, however as John Belushi used to so eloquently put it: “But noooooooooooooooo!”
The Mathematical Association of America released a statement Friday claiming both that mathematicians should engage in ‘uncomfortable conversations’ about race, and that policies of from the Trump administration, like the lack of a mask mandate in the United States, are somehow an affront to mathematics. The group concludes with a call for a ‘pursuit of justice’ within math.
I know what you’re thinking: What does race have to do with math?! It’s all numbers and stuff! 10 + 10 = 20. You can’t have opinions about that, and it doesn’t matter what race you are. You either get 20, or it’s wrong! You’re only thinking that because you’re logical and rational. The people calling the shots at the Mathematical Association of America obviously aren’t:
Thanks to science and mathematics, we understand now that masks, social distancing, frequent, rapid, mass testing, and contact tracing are all fundamental to keep our communities safer during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ the association wrote.
‘Yet policies at the federal level have not consistently reflected these facts; for example, choosing not to incorporate a mask-mandate in the US has had serious consequences.’
Uh-huh. Obviously orange man bad and anti-science. And math has anything to do with this ludicrously politicized issue how exactly?
The statement called out several specific recent actions taken by the federal government, including President Trump’s executive order banning government trainings on ‘critical race theory’ and ‘white privilege.’
Oooooooh. It’s all about Democrat/Socialist/Communist politics, then. They’re butt hurt because President Trump has finally called them out and shut them out. He’s actually putting an end to federal racism. But still, what does that have to do with math?
It also called out the fact that the Department of Education launched an investigation into Princeton University after the university publicly condemned itself of being rife with racism ‘embedded in structures’ of the university. The group says this action ‘weaponized’ the statement from Princeton administration.
Actually, the DOE called the President of Princeton’s bluff. If Princeton is knowingly “rife with racism” as he claims, it’s a violation of federal law for the college to receive any federal funds. It always was, but for the first time, there may be a price for virtue signaling and oppressing those holding rational opinions.
As mathematicians, we notice patterns – this is something we are all trained to do. We bring these Executive actions to our community’s attention for several reasons: we see the pattern of science being ignored and the pattern of violence against our colleagues that give voice to race and racism,’ the statement continues.
And what “violence” would this be? The MAA does not bother to explain it. It is apparently beyond their science, but not the science of normal Americans who recognize a scam/shake down when they see it. To such people mere disagreement with D/S/C orthodoxy is violence. In fact, refusing to speak their favored buzzwords, and refusing to praise their mere existence is violence as well. Should they ever gain absolute political power, these offenses, and many more, will become felony crimes. As ostensible mathematicians and scientists, they apparently never learned grammar. How does “the pattern of violence against our colleagues that give voice to race…?” Saying and refusing to say things these people hate creates new races of people? That’s some science I’d like to see, but it’s probably too mathematically complex for the likes of me.
We need to fight against these patterns. As educators, we also recognize the threatening pattern of banning education and withdrawing education funding to suppress conversations on race and racism, extending from elementary to postsecondary institutions to the workplace and research spheres.
There it is. They’re panicking because people are awakening to what they’ve been doing for decades: indoctrinating the young while simultaneously denying them the educational opportunities they are duty and honor bound to provide them. This should not be a surprise as these are not honorable people. They don’t want to do science; math has apparently become boring to them. They want to be political indoctrinators, and they’re annoyed anyone would think that improper.
It is time for all members of our profession to acknowledge that mathematics is created by humans and therefore inherently carries human biases.
Yeah? Like what? Are there white supremacist equations? Let’s see some, then. How about Fermat’s Last Theorem? Is that racist? Does this mean white people can’t teach math, or only white people who think they’re racist?
Until this occurs, our community and our students cannot reach full potential,’ wrote the group. ‘Reaching this potential in mathematics relies upon the academy and higher education engaging in critical, challenging, sometimes uncomfortable conversations about the detrimental effects of race and racism on our community. The time is now to move mathematics and education forward in pursuit of justice.
Oooooh. So 10 + 10 = social justice? If that’s reality, it might be better not to reach “full potential.”
As an educator, I have apparently labored under false impressions. I always thought it was my job to use every minute of my scarce and always dwindling class time to teach my discipline as effectively as possible. I absolutely did not have time to engage in anything else, and certainly not politics. I’m absolutely certain professional math teachers have been laboring under the same false impressions. There just isn’t time for anything but math in the math classroom.
The MAA is apparently comprised of the woke, not the scientific. If you’re woke, you begin from non-falsifiable premises and construct narratives to support them, ignoring any evidence to the contrary, because your premises and policies are perfect and cannot possibly be wrong. Should anyone attempt to prove them wrong, they are committing violence. They must be destroyed, and that process of destruction begins by calling them racist.
They want to be apostles for D/S/C cracktivism, so they proclaim their discipline racist and their mission to eradicate it. The obvious question is if math is so rife with racism, why did it take until recently to notice it? How is that racism mathematically, scientifically quantified? Is there an equation that explains it, a theorem that make it recognizable? Where are the proofs? And if racism is inexcusable and can never be truly expiated, how can such failed beings possibly eliminate it? Won’t they, by forcing “uncomfortable conversations about race,” be merely perpetuating racism, which of course, is what racists—they’ve identified themselves as such—do?
Let us hope, gentle readers, such ideas die a quick and well deserved death. If not, in the near future, we may all be riding in highly combustible electric vehicles designed with social justice math, driving over bridges designed with the same non-falsifiable equations. I wonder if swimming is racist too?
To find more of my writings on this topic, merely enter “math” into the SMM homepage search bar.