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Jan 10 2013

Algebra is political indoctrination!

Sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up. But there’s actually a video clip of the Fox News dolts sitting around expressing dismay at 6th graders learning about algebra.

Fox News host Eric Bolling on Wednesday accused some schools of “pushing the liberal agenda” for teaching an algebra lesson about the distributive property.

“But even worse is the way some textbooks are pushing the liberal agenda,” the Fox News host explained, pointing to an algebra worksheet that Scholastic says gives students “[i]nsight into the distributive property as it applies to multiplication.”

“Distribute the wealth!” Bolling exclaimed, reading the worksheet. “Distribute the wealth with the lovely rich girl with a big ole bag of money, handing some money out.”

Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle explained that the algebra worksheet had put her on “high alert” for the liberal agenda in her 6-year-old son’s curriculum.

Wait. These clowns don’t understand the distributive property in elementary arithmetic, and they confuse it with some kind of Communist plot? I think we’re done here. Where’s the hook? Can someone just yank these idjits off the stage?

And there’s more exercise for the fainting couch!

Co-host Dana Perino also expressed concern over an effort to stop children from role playing “cowboys and Indians” at Thanksgiving because experts say that “the historic enemy of Indians was not cowboys, but the U.S. government.”

“So it starts in third grade and guess what happens?” Bolling remarked. “Through their whole educational experience, they continually get indoctrinated, even through college.”

It’s always fun to watch a bunch of rich white folks downplaying the government’s role in historic genocide, and calling it indoctrination.

“Everybody has anecdotal evidence of this,” co-host Greg Gutfeld agreed. “I think the only way leftism can survive is through indoctrination because its number one adversary is reality. So you got to get them young and it’s perfect for kids. Paul Krugman’s logic is child’s play: Share your stuff… A lot of this comes from the teachers. They get their news from The Huffington Post and their antiperspirant from a health food store. This is the way they live.”

Wait, wait, again. These guys are denying algebra and calling it socialist propaganda, while claiming the left is an enemy or reality? Forget the hook, just drop the curtain and close the whole damn show. This is ridiculous.

120 comments

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  1. 1
    PZ Myers

    I also like how this panel convened to critique the educational system are also so dumb that they’re stumped by an elementary school worksheet of basic arithmetic problems.

  2. 2
    Chris Clarke

    Al Jibra? Sounds terroristic to me.

  3. 3
    Pteryxx

    Hope they don’t find out where the word al-gebra came from.

  4. 4
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Everyone in my class always said algebra was the work of satan.

  5. 5
    5Up Mushroom

    For what it’s worth, the worksheet was named “Distribute the Wealth” and there was a young lady handing out cash. However, she is obviously a commie.

  6. 6
    Robert B.

    Oooh, hey, I should teach those guys about combining like terms! You’re allowed to add XY + XY = 2XY, but XY + XX cannot be combined.

    It’s the gay math agenda!

  7. 7
    microraptor

    This is all to get people to go along with subtracting the school’s budget.

  8. 8
    simonsays

    To this day I will never forget the mnemonic device my 8th grade algebra teacher used for the associative property: (ASS)ociative…get it…because parentheses are curved…like a person’s “associate”.

  9. 9
    Robert B.

    @ simonsays:

    There’s one like that in Geometry, too. You can prove triangles are congruent by SSS (side-side-side) or SAS (side-angle-side) or ASA (angle-side-angle) or AAS (angle-angle-side). AAA (angle-angle-angle) or its non-redundant brother AA, doesn’t prove congrunence, but it’s still useful because it does prove similarity.

    But you are not allowed to write ASS in a geometry proof.

  10. 10
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    Hey Rawstory–6th grade /= 6-year-old.

    Also, Eric Bolling is a complete idiot.

  11. 11
    simonsays

    @Robert B:

    I’m not sure if my teacher had pointed this out or not, however Angle Side Side actually doesn’t prove congruence anyway. I recall thinking this same thing though with the letters A and S :-)

    Same geometry teacher gave us a test question with a quadrilateral and the sides where labeled with the letters J – O – K – E and nobody got it right in the whole class. Predictably, he later mocked us and said he had a premonition we’d be too dumb to get it (he didn’t use the word “dumb”, but the implication was there).

  12. 12
    Aaron

    In all fairness, I think we need to acknowledge that the hosts were NOT commenting upon the distributive property. They were NOT suggesting there’s anything wrong with learning the mathematics in question. They were calling attention to the wording of the worksheet, specifically the phrase “distribute the wealth”.

  13. 13
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Are they going to demand the enforcement of the biblical claim that pi = 3 next?

  14. 14
    Robert B.

    @ simonsays:

    Indeed, it doesn’t prove congruence, that’s the point of the joke. The actual reason you can’t use it is because it doesn’t work. If it was valid, they’d call it “SSA” and let you use it.

  15. 15
    Zeno

    Curses! My evil plot has been revealed! Who will take my algebra now?

  16. 16
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Haven’t you all seen the worksheets the kids are doing? Many of their math problems contain “=” signs in them. Clearly the math teachers are trying to push their agenda of pro-GLBTQ equality.

  17. 17
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    It has been decades since I took algebra classes. But I seem to remember that the word problems usually were about how to split up apples or oranges. It was redistributing the wealth!

    Look at me now, an unrepentant leftist.

  18. 18
    simonsays

    @ simonsays:

    Indeed, it doesn’t prove congruence, that’s the point of the joke. The actual reason you can’t use it is because it doesn’t work. If it was valid, they’d call it “SSA” and let you use it.

    However then they’d have to rename AAS to SAA in order to be consistent. I wonder if someone could invent a non-plane geometry where all the abbreviations were funny.

  19. 19
    Akira MacKenzie

    Reminds me of Andrew Schlafly’s insane opposition to Einstein’s theories on the grounds that it promotes “moral relativism.”

  20. 20
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    There is, in fact, a picture of a girl handing out money from a gigantic cartoonish bag with a dollar sign on it, but that only makes these people slightly less dumb than you’re giving them credit for.

  21. 21
    kreativekaos

    So dumbfounding is the content of the main post, one lacks for the words to describe the horrendous levels of bullshit promoted and continually fed to the increasingly dumbed-down sectors of the populace. I continually wonder just how organizations such as ‘F’ News–both national and local– can continue to exist. It definitely stands as a metric reflecting the state of scientific, social and perhaps mental health of the general society.

  22. 22
    kosk11348

    Co-host Dana Perino also expressed concern over an effort to stop children from role playing “cowboys and Indians” at Thanksgiving because experts say that “the historic enemy of Indians was not cowboys, but the U.S. government.”

    I would presume the teachers might have been trying to stop kids from playing “cowboys and Indians” on Thanksgiving because historically cowboys have no connection to that holiday. Who would have guessed that teaching accurate history is part of the liberal agenda?

  23. 23
    Ysanne

    @PZ #1: Oh yes, and they’re sure proud of not being able to follow their children’s curricula after grade 3…

  24. 24
    Akira MacKenzie

    Paul Krugman’s logic is child’s play: Share your stuff…”

    Riiiiight, because the “free maket” approach of of clinging to ones stuff while shrieking “MINE! MINE! MINE!” is the epitome of maturity.

  25. 25
    Chaos Engineer

    They get their news from The Huffington Post and their antiperspirant from a health food store. This is the way they live.

    I don’t think this guy’s as out-of-touch as he’s pretending to be. “Antiperspirant from a health food store” was a sketch in the last episode of “Portlandia”, and I’ll bet anything he watched it and stole the joke.

  26. 26
    Glen Davidson

    Jesus didn’t mention algebra. So why teach it?

    Glen Davidson

  27. 27
    vaiyt

    The only thing I can say is:

    Don’t export this bullshit.

  28. 28
    Rey Fox

    Bart: Sharing is a bunch of bull, too. And helping others. And what’s all this crap I’ve been hearing about tolerance?
    Homer: Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    To think, the Simpsons were exaggerating back then.

  29. 29
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Who would have guessed that teaching accurate history is part of the liberal agenda?

    John Ford, Kosk11348@22

    This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

  30. 30
    Inaji

    I, I…I am so *embarrassed* to be sharing a country with these people. Just no words.

  31. 31
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    That’s Conservapaedia levels of stupidity and ignorance, conflating Einstein’s theory of relativity with the idea of moral relativism. At least Conservapaedia are a nutty fringe and largely ignored and mocked; why are these ignorant fools being given air-time on mainstream television?!

  32. 32
    Suido

    I wonder how long until there’s outrage that x^3 means xxx. Families will be torn asunder by the evil influence of liberal mathematics.

  33. 33
    Rachel Kiernan

    There’s a reason why FOX “News” viewers are the least informed of any group, including those who refuse to watch any news. This pretty much sums it up right here.

    I think it’s a safe assumption that FOX hosts flunked math and they know their audience did the same. They clearly have no clue what the “distributive property” is. So, as a country, this leave us with….
    A) A Republican Congressman who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee who believes that evolution and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell.”
    B) FOX “News” hosts who are ideologically opposed to math.
    C) A bunch of mindless slaves who are functionally illiterate, unable to entertain logical thoughts and are completely reliant upon their religious and corporate overlords.
    D) All of the above.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when actual happenings at FOX read more like a headline in “The Onion.”

  34. 34
    cactusren

    To those of you complaining about the fact that the worksheet was titled “Distribute the Wealth”: yes, that’s the title. Presumably, the phrase is meant to help students remember the name of the Distributive Property by using a common phrase. Also, these “journalists” are assuming this is some sort of communist plot, but just to play devil’s advocate, what if the girl in the picture was the one handling cash at, say, a lemonade stand that some enterprising kids were running, and she has to calculate each person’s cut at the end of the day? Wealth gets distributed within corporations, too.

    The people at Faux news are so hung up on particular phrases and talking points, that they can’t even imagine alternate possibilities. It almost makes me sad for them.

  35. 35
    feralboy12

    The socialist propaganda in math education begins long before algebra. Remember story problems? Farmer A was constantly having to give his apples to Farmer B. And then your teacher just wanted to know how many fewer apples Farmer B still had compared to Farmer A.
    They were indoctrinating us children with disrespect for the apple-givers in this country, the ones who made it so great.

  36. 36
    Inaji

    feralboy12:

    They were indoctrinating us children with disrespect for the apple-givers in this country, the ones who made it so great.

    Oh, it got much worse! Those liberal agenda pushin’ teachers had the nerve to teach kids about John Chapman, who did much more than share apples, why he went around planting trees!

  37. 37
    countagion

    Wait until they find out about the commutative property!

    What?!? You think that convicted criminals should have their sentences commuted by touchy-feely bleading-heart liberal judges!?!

    Hope they never find out how the associative property is being used to further the gay agenda!

  38. 38
    cactusren

    John Chapman, who did much more than share apples, why he went around planting trees!

    If only he’d patented and trademarked those seeds, he might today be known as Johnny Appleseed (TM)!

  39. 39
    athyco

    Let’s look at some other titles in this series of 5th grade worksheets, shall we?

    Money! Money! Money!
    Let’s Crack the Code!
    Eat Your Vegetables
    Why Do Geckos Bark?
    Cock-a-Doodle-Do!
    Let’s Head ‘Em Up and Move ‘Em Out!
    Citywide Addition
    It’s Great to Associate!
    Zero Is a Hero!
    Double the Money
    A Decimal Storm
    Line Them Up!
    Cruising Down the Road
    Fun in the Addition Forest

    Don’t you feel faint at the thought that these titles are just the skim of the scum of liberal education?!? “Zero Is a Hero!” has got to be brainwashing for Obama. OH-bama. Like saying OH for zero, right? And there are too many there that support the Gay Agenda; I could just cry.

    Sheeeeeesh.

  40. 40
    cactusren

    Oh, and let’s not even get started on integration…

    Though I guess that won’t be a problem, since these people are so damned proud of not even understanding elementary math.

  41. 41
    DLC

    I’m surprised they did not go on the air decrying the Communicative property of mathematics as being “Gawl Durn Comminism!”
    Are these people really that stupid that they think that worksheet is somehow about redistribution of wealth ?
    Does it not occur to those morons that the girl depicted is smiling, happy and giving away her money of her own free will ? Of course, I realize that actually giving away anything is anathema to them, so perhaps it’s not quite their fault.

  42. 42
    abb3w

    Looks like it was catalyzed by a blog post by Neil Boortz, who was also complaining about the property being included in the math curriculum, as well as the particular illustration.

  43. 43
    sugarfrosted

    I had no idea that my subfield of math was a part of the liberal agenda. I should have know though from all the talk about HOMOmorphisms, HOMOlogy, HOMOtopy the distributive property and group theory. It’s so obvious, how could I not see it before.

    (I guess some people would claim usage of set theory is part of the liberal agenda as well).

  44. 44
    chigau (違う)

    I haz sad.
    When I was in high school (early 1970s), I understood algebra.
    [or so I thought]

  45. 45
    ryangrannell

    It’s dishonest to imply they have a problem with algebra in itself; they were complaining about the ‘leftist’ pun on the top of the work sheet.

    That said, there is an argument to be made that elements of the right-wing do have a problem with mathematics beyond arithmetic, for example

    “Unlike the “modern math” theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, A Beka Book teaches that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute….A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, and workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory.” — ABeka.com

  46. 46
    Inaji

    It’s dishonest to imply they have a problem with algebra in itself

    No it isn’t. It’s obvious they feel it’s a tool of the liberals, with all their nasty, evil agendas. Why, book learnin’ only needs to go so far, no need for that filthy algebra. If you think they don’t have a problem which runs that deep, you aren’t paying attention.

  47. 47
    chigau (違う)

    ryangrannell #45
    god thinks π = 3

  48. 48
    John Morales

    cactusren, the girl clearly represents the CFO of a company distributing share dividends to the investors. ;)

  49. 49
    Mark Heseltine

    The distributive property attempts to make something out of nothing.

    (a + b) * x = ax + bx. Where does the extra x come from?

    This exposes the main problem with the liberal agenda.

    They are right to remove it from school curriculum. It should be taught on a “need to know” basis only.

  50. 50
    simar

    @Akira MacKenzie

    Riiiiight, because the “free maket” approach of of clinging to ones stuff while shrieking “MINE! MINE! MINE!” is the epitome of maturity.

    So Free Market advocates are actually Orange Lantern Constructs controlled by Larfleeze?

  51. 51
    Maureen Brian

    Worse than that, Simar! No distributive property means no more trickle-down economics, no more tax cuts for the rich. Either that or they were lying all along.

    Back to you, Dr Krugman!

  52. 52
    clastum3

    Aaron #10
    In all fairness, I think we need to acknowledge that the hosts were NOT commenting upon the distributive property. They were NOT suggesting there’s anything wrong with learning the mathematics in question. They were calling attention to the wording of the worksheet, specifically the phrase “distribute the wealth”.

    “In all fairness…..” : come on, that’s rather naive – this is pharyngula after all!

    But, in all fairness to pharyngula on my part, there are already 2 others above who expose the blatant dishonesty of PZ’s OP.

  53. 53
    fullyladenswallow

    When I was in catholic grade school back in the ’60′s (3rd or 4th grade I think), we had a perfect whack job for a teacher. She thought the folks at the Parker Pen Company were a bunch of commies. Have to admit though, sayin’ stuff like that did keep us engaged.

  54. 54
    Sarahface, who is trying to break the lurking habit

    The distributive property attempts to make something out of nothing.

    (a + b) * x = ax + bx. Where does the extra x come from?

    This exposes the main problem with the liberal agenda.

    They are right to remove it from school curriculum. It should be taught on a “need to know” basis only.

    Wait, I’m sorry, are you serious?

  55. 55
    flapjack

    In other news, gaybashing evangelist and historian Scott Lively has progressed from revisionist history: ‘Gays caused the holocaust” to revisionist fan fiction “Gay wedding songs caused Noah’s Flood”

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/01/10/anti-gay-evangelist-scott-lively-gay-marriage-in-biblical-times-caused-noahs-flood/

    I could summarise his argument for you “Hey kids, you know that story which never actually happened, well here’s what REALLY didn’t happen”.
    Just to save him the effort I’d like to confess on behalf of gay people everywhere to sinking the Titanic, killing the dinosaurs, the black hole of Calcutta, 9/11, inventing the atom bomb and shooting JFK. Amazing what we can achieve with a half hour window in our ‘gay agenda’

  56. 56
    McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there.

    Surely, somewhere, there is a volcano goddess that demands the sacrifice of people this shockingly stupid in order to save an island of native folk.

  57. 57
    bradleybetts

    Lol! So mathematically illiterate, overly paranoid right-wingers have convinced themselves that the distributive principle = redistribution of wealth and that therefore algebra is actually a nation-wide programme to indoctrinate children into “The Liberal Agenda” (because Liberalism and Communism are totally the same thing, despite one being a social standpoint and the latter an economic standpoint); and yet it’s the political Left that is not rooted in reality?!

    …BWAhahahahahahahahHAAAAAH!! Oh, I needed that. I have tears running down my face while gleefully repeating the story to a colleague. Oh, Jeebus that’s funny :D PZ, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention :D

  58. 58
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    The part that made me laugh the hardest was the last part:

    Bolling advised parents to read their children’s history books because his son’s textbook addressed the Iraq war “and they were very, very liberally biased, saying George Bush went in there because he heard there were weapons of mass destruction and they were never found. It was a very liberal bias to the history books.”

    Liberal bias = Half-assed truth.

    Bush KNEW there were no WMDs.

  59. 59
    shouldbeworking

    What’s next? Faux News will expose the evils of Big Science? The laws of nature shouldn’t prevent people from traveling at the speed of light! The Third Law of Motion must be repealed because it supports gay marriage!

  60. 60
    rorschach

    *checks date on calendar*

    Not April the first. So really just another brick in the wall of Idiocracy.

  61. 61
    Greta Christina

    Wait a minute. Accurate history is indoctrination, and teaching kids about sharing is propaganda?

    My head hurts.

  62. 62
    Moggie

    The book this worksheet is from appears to be this one:

    http://teacherexpress.scholastic.com/subject/scholastic-success-with-addition-subtraction-multiplication-mkt14943

    Browse the worksheets and see whether you can honestly detect an agenda (other than a slightly desperate attempt to make arithmetic seem fun).

  63. 63
    opposablethumbs

    Joking and laughing at these pluperfect idiots aside, the 1970s military dictatorship in Argentina – more remembered for murdering some 20k of their own nationals – did ban the “subversive” New Maths, set theory and structural grammatical analysis, nation-wide. They would do it if they could

  64. 64
    randay

    Nothing surprising, Bill O’Reilly didn’t know how the tides worked, and he has degrees from several universities. He notably doesn’t tell his audience that he went to a school in socialist Britain.

    One can ask any surfer about how the tides work.. This is something you should learn in primary school, or at least junior high school.

    If the people who write the programs for automatic stock trading had never learned algebra, what would happen to the great capitalist system?

    Let’s not forget that the number “zero” was rejected by Billo’s Catholic church because it was considered the work of satan, having come to Europe from India by way of the muslim Arabs.

  65. 65
    Morgan

    These clowns don’t understand the distributive property in elementary arithmetic, and they confuse it with some kind of Communist plot?

    I actually had a comment written up, based on this post and on the linked article, agreeing with those above who say PZ’s misrepresenting the situation here. Then I watched the video just to be sure.

    “The subhead is ‘understanding the distributive property’. For third graders! That doesn’t…” “I still don’t understand what it is!”

    So, yeah. They really don’t seem to know what the distributive property is. Yes, they’re complaining about a pun/joke on the sheet itself, not just seeing “distributive” and leaping to “zomg redistribution”… but they then pick up that ball of ignorance and run with it right in to “what am math” territory.

  66. 66
    Matt G

    Didn’t Jesus say something about selling your things and giving the money to the poor? Damn Commie!

  67. 67
    parkrrrr

    The part of this that I find most disturbing is that the kids are sixth graders. I learned about the distributive property when I was in the third grade in 1980.

    And, to prove that it’s all a lib’rul conspiracy, that was in Catholic school.

  68. 68
    frugaltoque

    Pinochet took away set theory!
    Hitler took away algebra!
    Mao took away calculus!
    Listen to me! 1776 will commence again if you take away even one digit! We will not stand for this!

  69. 69
    LykeX

    So, yeah. They really don’t seem to know what the distributive property is.

    Quite. For anyone saying that this is taken out of context: watch the video. It’s at about 2:45. It’s quite clear that these people
    a) don’t have a clue about the math being taught and
    b) think that this is actually teaching about wealth distribution

    Their point isn’t that this is an inappropriate use of words, a bad example or something like that. They clearly think that this worksheet is actual, deliberate communist propaganda.
    That lady speaking obvious thinks that the “distributive property” is a critique of capitalism (assuming she’s even that sophisticated in her understanding and doesn’t just think it’s vaguely “unamerican”). The older guy flat out says, “I still don’t understand what it is.” Direct quote, people.

  70. 70
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    (I guess some people would claim usage of set theory is part of the liberal agenda as well).

    The scary thing is, you’re right. Since set theory deals with different values of infinity, it’s a part of the atheist agenda to remove Jesus from schools. (‘Cos there’s only one thing that’s infinite: God.)

  71. 71
    Matt Penfold

    That lady speaking obvious thinks that the “distributive property” is a critique of capitalism (assuming she’s even that sophisticated in her understanding and doesn’t just think it’s vaguely “unamerican”). The older guy flat out says, “I still don’t understand what it is.” Direct quote, people.

    How can people this ignorant work out how to use the toilet unsupervised ?

  72. 72
    pHred

    I tried watching – I am pretty sure I lost IQ points. Holy Jebus these people are so dull all knives in a five mile radius can’t maintain an edge. I would expect them to drowned when it rains.
     
    Why exactly would anyone pay attention to someone who admits that they could only understand their child’s homework for the first three years and after that they wouldn’t be able to pass the quizzes. Even being generous and not counting Kindergarten as one of those years, that means he reports not understanding 4th grade homework. And this person should be on TV as a commentator ? of any sort ?

  73. 73
    David Marjanović

    Bush KNEW there were no WMDs.

    Frankly, I have no clue if Captain Unelected himself knew. What I’m sure about is that he didn’t care.

    How can people this ignorant work out how to use the toilet unsupervised ?

    Trial & error.

  74. 74
    shouldbeworking

    I sent the link to the math and social studies teachers t my school. The math department has been accused of poaching.

  75. 75
    AJ Milne

    Joking and laughing at these pluperfect idiots aside, the 1970s military dictatorship in Argentina – more remembered for murdering some 20k of their own nationals – did ban the “subversive” New Maths, set theory and structural grammatical analysis, nation-wide. They would do it if they could

    It’s one of those things you’ve probably heard, but seriously: education (outside proper indoctrination in your duties to and role within the existing hierarchy) generally isn’t something authoritarians like to encourage. Math? Not a safe subject, at all. People getting simple things like probability and cost/benefit alone might start asking questions about the dubious logic of the ongoing paranoid militarization of civic spaces, quite without even having to get as far as directly considering the sociological implications of doing so.

    Banging on it again: education is the first, the last, the most important battleground, if you really want your democracy to mean something, and to go anywhere worth being. An educated populace that hasn’t simply been taught to stand and sit for the pledge and the anthem and recite the required pieties is a lot more trouble to keep in their place.

  76. 76
    ck

    The worksheet in question doesn’t even contain elementary algebra. I’m not sure why you’d teach the distributive property without it. It’d be useful to just use arithmetic to show that it works, but it’s only truly useful when combined with algebra.

  77. 77
    Matt Penfold

    Frankly, I have no clue if Captain Unelected himself knew. What I’m sure about is that he didn’t care.

    Blair has this thing where he says that agree with him about Iraq or not, you have to accept he was sincere in his belief that Iraq had WMDs. To which my reply is he may well have been sincere, but he had no right to be.

  78. 78
    gussnarp

    I think the best part was when he said the history class got the Iraq war all wrong because they said Bush invaded based on claims of weapons of mass destruction and the weapons were never found.

    Um, so teaching history based on well known facts is a liberal agenda?

    Also, these ignorant fools calling Krugman’s logic childish? Somebody get me another irony meter. Not to mention that they’ve just decided that Krugman is the bogeyman because he’s called for Keynesian solutions to the current economic crisis. The man is hardly a leftist, he’s as much a believer in and support of free enterprise capitalism as anyone, he just happens to believe that it’s a good idea to pay for the government that enables that capitalism.

    I could go on forever, this pisses me off so much. What’s scary is that this approach is working. It’s dividing the country, we’ll just tell everyone to never believe Krugman, or the Times, or the Huffington Post and only believe us and that everyone who disagrees is lying to you and they’ll believe it because we wrap it up in a package that appeals to your inbuilt biases, beliefs, and desires. We’ll make it simple for you so you don’t have to deal with any cognitive dissonance caused by facts that disconfirm your worldview. And so you have people like most everyone I went to high school with and much of my family who live in an absolutely alternate reality generated by a steady diet of Fox News and talk radio.

    Hell, I saw a Facebook post telling conservatives they should never believe Snopes.com because it’s just one guy with no background in “research”. Stop the planet, I want to kick them off.

  79. 79
    hawkerhurricane

    In other news, a man attempted to board a airplane with a protractor, a compass, and a pocket calculator.
    He has been linked with the Al-Gebra movement, equipped with Weapons of Math Instruction.

  80. 80
    gussnarp

    I wonder if they also complain about texts that have been handed out by various candy and soft drink companies designed to make mindless sugar junkies out of our kids while they learn math? Is that indoctrination, or just the generosity of corporate America showing that we don’t need to fund our schools, we can just let Pepsi do it! Or what about virtually every economics class ever taught in this country that is so oversimplified that it feeds these extremist libertarian views that are unsupported by real economics? Or what about when I was in grade school and for our fifth grade presentation we all sang “God Bless the USA”. What about every day in every school in America when the pledge of allegiance is recited? But no, an obscure reference on a single math worksheet is promoting the liberal agenda and will turn every kid into a card-carrying communist, but none of that other stuff is indoctrination….

  81. 81
    David Marjanović

    To which my reply is he may well have been sincere, but he had no right to be.

    Agreed.

  82. 82
    Alex

    In other news, a man attempted to board a airplane with a protractor, a compass, and a pocket calculator.
    He has been linked with the Al-Gebra movement, equipped with Weapons of Math Instruction.

    When arrested, he was chanting “Al-Kitāb al-muḫtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa-ʾl-muqābala” over and over again, until he was shot in self-defense by TSA officials.

  83. 83
    truthspeaker

    kosk11348

    10 January 2013 at 10:06 pm (UTC -6)

    Who would have guessed that teaching accurate history is part of the liberal agenda?

    Of course it is. What, are you going to teach school children that the taxes the American colonists objected to paying were levied to pay for the loans England had taken out to wage the French and Indian War? Are you going to teach the reality of how brutal slavery was? Are you going to teach them how many American Indians died on the Trail of Tears? That President Jackson ignored the Supreme Court and got away with it?

    Are you going to teach that a newspaper owner published fake stories in order to start the Spanish-American war, helping the US acquire colonies overseas? That the US brutally repressed an independence movement in the Philippines? Hell, you probably want to teach school children that Reagan mined Nicaragua’s harbor just because he didn’t like who won an election. Children might start to think that the USA is not an exceptional nation that brings freedom to the world, but just another nation that conducts itself like other nations.

    Teaching accurate history is absolutely a liberal plot!

  84. 84
    left0ver1under

    The clowns are dumb enough to believe “a(b+c)=ab+ac” equals communism?

    No doubt they’ll start calling logistics and delivery companies “communist” because they distribute wealth.

  85. 85
    pHred

    hawkerhurricane and Tyrant al-Kalām

    When arrested, he was chanting “Al-Kitāb al-muḫtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa-ʾl-muqābala” over and over again, until he was shot in self-defense by TSA officials.

    Oh – that is awesome – I award you each one shiny إنترنت

  86. 86
    Akira MacKenzie

    Simar @ 50



    Oh! “Minecraft” humor. Sorry, young fella I’m still trying’ to figure out that new-fangled “Legend of Zelda” on my cutting edge Nintendo Entertainment System.

    (OK, I own a 360 and “Mass Effect” interests me greatly, but I still prefer my RPGs the way they were meant to be played: with polyhedron dice, graph paper, miniatures, four-to-eight other social misfits, and an old ping-pong table in my father’s basement. Pass the pizza rolls! I’m about due for a Nat-20!)

  87. 87
    birgerjohansson

    Something derived from the arabic al-gebra must be ehvil musselman indoctrination.

  88. 88
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Wait ’til they hear about the Commutative Property!

  89. 89
    frankensteinmonster

    If your ideology is at war with the reality itself, even opening your eyes amounts to giving in to enemy political indoctrination.

  90. 90
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Wait ’til they hear about the Commutative Property!

    Or the transitive property.

  91. 91
    sharculese

    The hilarious part is that Paul Krugman isn’t even that far to the left and definitely isn’t a socialist, he’s just the most liberal it’s possible to be and still be accepted in mainstream US discourse.

    Also:

    Co-host Dana Perino also expressed concern over an effort to stop children from role playing “cowboys and Indians” at Thanksgiving because experts say that “the historic enemy of Indians was not cowboys, but the U.S. government.”

    Reminder that Dana Perino was at one point the official voice of the President of the United States. And she wasn’t even the most incompetent person to hold that job during the Bush administration.

  92. 92
    Robert B.

    @ ckitching, 76:

    Oh, not at all. I use the distributive property to teach kids to find halves of large numbers mentally. Half of 40 is 20, half of 5 is 2 1/2, so half of 45 is 22 1/2. (In algebraic notation, 1/2 * (40 + 5) = 1/2 * 40 + 1/2 * 5) Then again, I’m not telling them about the distributive property by name yet, or writing down complicated expressions with parentheses, because these kids are usually about seven.

  93. 93
    Alex

    “Or the transitive property.”

    To appease them, just tell them that the real numbers with < have Total order.
    That should be congruent with their mind-set :D

  94. 94
    gussnarp

    @sharculese

    Paul Krugman isn’t even that far to the left and definitely isn’t a socialist

    Yes, exactly, but to the Fox News crowd anyone to the left of Ron Paul is a socialist.

    Reminder that Dana Perino was at one point the official voice of the President of the United States.

    Thanks, now I’m having terrifying flashbacks. At least you’ve reminded me that for all his faults, Obama really is an improvement.

  95. 95
    gravityisjustatheory

    I think the best part was when he said the history class got the Iraq war all wrong because they said Bush invaded based on claims of weapons of mass destruction and the weapons were never found.

    Um, so teaching history based on well known facts is a liberal agenda?

    [comicsans]
    But they did find one old rusted chemical shell!
    Therefore there *were* chemical weapons in Iraq!
    You’re just a typical lying liberal trying to make Bush look bad!
    [/comicsans]

  96. 96
    Louis

    {Motions everyone closer}

    [Whisper]

    Psst. Hey. Comrades. I have quadratic equations. Bessel functions from behind the Iron Curtain. Decadent communist mathematics, you can see the topology on this one. I snuck it all out of China and Russia. I’ve even got hand rolled Cuba Game Theory problems and a copy of the Goldbach Conjecture where you can see the primes…

    …you know you want them.

    [/Whisper]

    Louis

  97. 97
    Matt Penfold

    Somehow I think they would feel quite at home with irrational numbers.

  98. 98
    Alex

    Goldbach Conjecture? What Jewish plot is that now?

  99. 99
    Louis

    Tyrant,

    Well you know those “Liberal Elites”….

    Louis

  100. 100
    chigau (違う)

    Where do imaginary numbers fit in?

  101. 101
    Matt Penfold

    Where do imaginary numbers fit in?

    They come in when deciding how far ahead in the polls Mitt Romney was.

  102. 102
    Alex

    I think imaginary numbers are too complex for them to handle…

  103. 103
    chigau (違う)

    We may hafta re-name algebra something along the line of freedom fries.
    Suggestions?

  104. 104
    Alex

    Libertyreckoning? Americalculus?

  105. 105
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    One has to wonder if they object to teaching something simply because their two necrotized neurons just can’t grasp it, and they’ll all afeared of things they don’t understand.

    If they’re so stomped by simple algebra and set theory, they probably think calculus is witchcraft and have probably never even heard of things like Fourier transforms or convolution, which is a good thing for them since it would probably break their brains.

    Hell, it almost broke mine.

  106. 106
    typecaster

    There is, of course, the old observation that life is complex.

    After all, it has both real and imaginary parts.

  107. 107
    evilDoug

    Where do imaginary numbers fit in?

    Kind of depends on whether you’re an engineer or a mathematician.
    In engineering, j is generally used, rather than i, the latter already having other meaning.
    jesus and jehova, therefore, are imaginary quantities.

  108. 108
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    typecaster -
    may be an “old observation” but it’s new to me and I had to laugh. Thanks for sharing it!

  109. 109
    khms

    Banging on it again: education is the first, the last, the most important battleground, if you really want your democracy to mean something, and to go anywhere worth being. An educated populace that hasn’t simply been taught to stand and sit for the pledge and the anthem and recite the required pieties is a lot more trouble to keep in their place.

    Hmm. This gives me an idea.

    Y’all know about the Separation of powers, right?

    The normal division of branches is into a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.

    (Read the WP article for more variations of that basic idea than you can shake a stick at; though I’m pretty certain they got the occasional bit wrong, that’s not really relevant to my point.)

    We ought to argue for another standard branch: we need an independent educational branch. One that’s under the control of the professionals in that area, not the politicians.

    In fact, after reading that WP article, I’m beginning to think about a dozen independent branches sound really good.

  110. 110
    stanton

    @56

    Surely, somewhere, there is a volcano goddess that demands the sacrifice of people this shockingly stupid in order to save an island of native folk.

    My god, man. Don’t you ever watch cartoons? Whenever the locals sacrifice the/an idiot of grand, weapons-grade stupidity into the maw of the volcano(god), the entity is then so thoroughly disgusted that he/she/it then spits the offered idiot out and then immediately proceeds to fatal blow itself up along with its island.

  111. 111
    cactusren

    ckitching:

    The worksheet in question doesn’t even contain elementary algebra. I’m not sure why you’d teach the distributive property without it. It’d be useful to just use arithmetic to show that it works, but it’s only truly useful when combined with algebra.

    The distributive property is handy for doing arithmetic in your head, because it allows you to break numbers down into smaller components that are easier to work with. For example: 47×5=40×5+7×5 =200+35=235. By breaking numbers down this way, I can do quick calculations in my head faster than my students can type the numbers into their calculators. (Which is always a good wake-up call, as they tend to just assume that a calculator is the fastest way of doing things.) It makes them WANT to do math in their heads!

  112. 112
    Nick Gotts

    I think hawkerhurricane@79 wins the thread.

  113. 113
    ck

    @ Robert B., cactusren

    Point taken, but unfortunately, the worksheet doesn’t really show either of those uses. I’ve never been a teacher, but I do remember math class, and some of my fellow students asking, “Why do we need this?” about virtually every new concept introduced. Worksheets that illustrate concepts in ways that have little or no utility aren’t likely to stick with much of the class past test time.

    I honestly don’t know why North American curriculums wait so long before teaching algebra, though. It would cut down on the number of concepts that have to be retaught (like this one) if it were merely introduced much earlier.

  114. 114
    cactusren

    ckitching @113: You’re right that the worksheet itself doesn’t really provide any context–without a proper lesson accompanying it, this worksheet is just some arithmetic problems. However, worksheets like this are generally meant to simply help teachers by providing practice problems, so the teachers don’t have to write those out themselves. That way they can focus on planning a useful lesson, then using the worksheet for practice and reinforcement.

    But yes, if someone simply passed out this worksheet with no explanation, it would not be particularly useful. I doubt that this is a frequent occurence (or at least I hope it isn’t).

  115. 115
    Robert B.

    @ ckitching:

    I wasn’t defending the worksheet, just the distributive property. The worksheet sounds pretty banal, actually, and ripe for “what is this good for” objections, just as you say.

    But actually, US schools are trying to teach algebra earlier, they just suck at it. First of all, they don’t realize that the kids aren’t failing algebra because of algebra, they’re failing algebra because of fractions and negative numbers. (That’s my biggest problem with the standardized-test accountability movement going on – if a math teacher really sucks, his students flunk right away, but if he’s just mediocre, the students can stagger along by cramming and memorizing algorithms they don’t understand, and it takes a couple years for the crash to happen – at which point it’s some other poor teacher’s “fault.”)

    Second, when they try to put algebra concepts in earlier courses, they pick the wrong ones and teach them as clumsily as possible. Take this worksheet as an example – students don’t need to know about an abstract principle called the “distributive property” until they hit pre-algebra at least. On the other hand, second and third graders need to know that when you’re multiplying or dividing something complicated, you can split it into easy parts and multiply or divide each part. It doesn’t need a special name and it’s not something weird and different – it’s just part of how multiplication and division work. (Which it totally is – try working out 27 x 4 and 204 / 6 on paper like a third grader would, and you’ll see what I mean.) And by the way, if you’re only teaching the distributive property as preparation for algebra, you’re doing it wrong – teach it because it makes sense of and is useful for the math the kids are doing now, or they will forget your useless boring lessons right after the test (or, unless you get very lucky, before the test.)

  116. 116
    scott1328

    When I first heard of fundagelicals complaining about Godless Mathematics, they were referring to Set Theory.

    What do Christian fundamentalists have against Set Theory

    Set theory is a mind bending study, it provides the theoretical logical framework for all of mathematics, including Algebra. If set theory is godless, is it any wonder that algebra is a propaganda tool of the godless left?

  117. 117
    katenrala

    Robert B. @ 115

    How do you justify your assertion that children fail algebra at 6th grade because of fractions and negative numbers?

    It doesn’t need a special name and it’s not something weird and different – it’s just part of how multiplication and division work.

    Frankly I think having a concept named is immensely helpful as it provides a standard cognitive shortcut that alerts those who know the name of a thing to instances thing, like understanding what gaslighting is with the term gaslighting helps alert and protect a person against it.

    (Which it totally is – try working out 27 x 4 and 204 / 6 on paper like a third grader would, and you’ll see what I mean.) And by the way, if you’re only teaching the distributive property as preparation for algebra, you’re doing it wrong – teach it because it makes sense of and is useful for the math the kids are doing now, or they will forget your useless boring lessons right after the test (or, unless you get very lucky, before the test.)

    Good to know that you know the exact, the only, and the best way to teach the hundreds of students a math teacher has.

  118. 118
    crowepps

    (Sarcasm) Well, hey, it starts as early as *preschool* doesn’t it? They keep telling tiny little children RED is a PRIMARY color and you can’t get more Commie than that!

  119. 119
    betelgeux

    I’m sure conservative heads would explode if they ever opened a chemistry textbook and saw the term “Free Radicals”.

  120. 120
    shadow

    How can people this ignorant work out how to use the toilet unsupervised ?

    They still use outhouses as that fancy indoor plumbing isn’t what Jesus would have used.

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