The closer we look, the clearer it is that Republican policies are based on stupidity


Journalists got their hands on 8 of the 26 math books banned by Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans, and tried to puzzle out what was offensive about them. It’s a revealing exercise.

On April 15, the Florida Department of Education issued a dramatic press release: “Florida Rejects Publishers’ Attempts to Indoctrinate Students.” In the release, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced that he had rejected 54 math textbooks submitted by publishers for the next school year. According to the Florida Department of Education, 26 of those math textbooks were rejected because they contained “prohibited topics,” including Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

To underscore the importance of this decision, the release contained a quote from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). “It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students,” DeSantis said. Corcoran said the math textbooks were rejected because children deserve “a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms.”

OK, that’s a good hint. Their goal is to expunge any trace of CRT, SEL, and Common Core, so we should see what pieces of those concepts are in any of these books. I can pretty much guarantee, sight unseen, that CRT isn’t going to be present — that’s a legal concept that you might get taught in law school, but it’s not going to be anywhere in primary school texts, and especially not in math books. As the analysis reveals, though, the Republican clown show doesn’t know what CRT is, and confuses it with any mention of race or SEL. But what is SEL?

In a press conference on Monday, DeSantis defended the decision, focusing on SEL. Right-wing activists claim that SEL is CRT by another name but that is inaccurate. SEL focuses on the development of “critical thinking, emotion management, conflict resolution, decision making, [and] teamwork” — skills that are necessary for students to excel in school and in life. The term dates back to a 1997 book but the concept of character development dates back at least to Benjamin Franklin in the mid-1700s.

“You know, math is about getting the right answer and we want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer. It’s not about how you feel about the problem or to introduce some of these other things,” DeSantis said. DeSantis noted that “most of the books that did not meet Florida standards… happened to be in the early grades.”

Oh, gosh, we do SEL all the time then. For example, all of my lab classes require students to work in groups, because that’s how science is done, so get started on that cooperative teamwork right now, and learning how to work together efficiently and effectively is as important as learning how to measure yeast respiration. Probably more important — some of the experiments we have them do are rather basic, but learning to work in groups and use core instrumentation and do reasonable analysis are the goal. I guess I’d be banned in Florida, along with all of my colleagues in biology.

And no, math isn’t about just getting the right answer. I do some basic math work in my classes — much of it is more statistics than anything else — but there’s a reason I demand intermediate answers in their calculations. It’s because understanding the process is more important than just plugging and chugging and seeing the “right” number appear on your calculator.

Well, then, maybe the Florida textbooks were laced with discussions of race and gender. Nope.

According to the Florida Department of Education, “the highest number of books rejected were for grade levels K-5, where an alarming 71 percent were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies.” Popular Information obtained three of the K-5 books that were rejected for “prohibited topics.”

There was no discussion of race, racism, or anything that could be construed as related to CRT in any of the textbooks. While the vast majority of the textbooks focused on basic math skills, they also encouraged students to reflect on how they learn and work with their classmates. In general, the textbooks encouraged young students to be nice to each other and themselves.

This could be considered SEL, which focuses on “social and emotional competence” and helping “children develop emotional literacy when it comes to their feelings and other people’s.” But nothing in any of the rejected textbooks could be described in good faith as “dangerous” or “indoctrination.”

Damn. Now I understand — teaching kids to be nice to each other is antithetical to raising them as Republicans. Better ban them!

Some of them do mention race, though.

The textbook also includes short write-ups of mathematicians from throughout history. Two write-ups spotlight African American mathematicians––Elbert Frank Cox, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, and Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, an African American mathematician who led a NASA unit.

But there are also several other short historical summaries of mathematicians from different backgrounds, including James Garfield and Liu Hui.

Regardless, these historical vignettes are not an example of CRT. Nor do these brief biographies constitute “race essentialism.” Rather, this content is consistent with Florida Department of Education’s “multicultural representation” requirement for all 2021-2022 instructional materials in K-12 mathematics.

Learning about famous mathematicians is not a form of indoctrination.

I don’t know about that. If they learned what a colossal, freaky asshole Isaac Newton was, and that he was white, they might get the idea that being a white physicist/mathematician was a wicked thing.

Kids are also not allowed to learn that the mundane subjects of story problems might be black or Asian.

Florida’s decision to reject several high school math textbooks is especially puzzling. Popular Information obtained a digital copy of Functions Modeling Change, one of five precalculus books that were rejected by Florida for the inclusion of prohibited topics.

Functions Modeling Change contains 10 mentions of “race” but all are related to running and biking. There is no discussion of racism and no math problems that deal with racial issues. There is also no discussion of emotions, teamwork, conflict resolution, or anything else associated with SEL. Instead, it is full of quadratic functions, trigonometry, and parametric equations. Another rejected precalculus book, Precalculus with Limits, has very similar content. So why were these textbooks rejected?

Good question. I still don’t know. Could it be Common Core?

It is impossible to know for sure absent an explanation from the Florida Department of Education, but the initial press release delineated three categories of “prohibited” topics: CRT, SEL, and Common Core. DeSantis has made a priority of “eliminating” Common Core from the curriculum. Common Core is a set of national standards championed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) and many other Republicans. Since Common Core was also embraced by former President Obama (D), it has become a target for DeSantis.

But Common Core’s math standards are just a set of basic skills needed at each grade level. It is impossible to “eliminate” Common Core because many of those skills are foundational. For example, the Common Core standards for 1st Grade math include the ability to count to 120. One cannot eliminate counting from the math curriculum. Florida’s B.E.S.T. standards, which DeSantis created to replace Common Core, also include the ability to count to 120 as a core standard for 1st Grade.

Learning to count could lead to accounting, which would detect Republican corruption, or accountability, another concept that is anathema to Republicans.

I think the answer is simple. Stupid people hate math. Stupid people are the Republican core demographic. This is just pandering to their electorate. There is no rational reason behind DeSantis’s politics, it’s all a reactionary lashing out against knowledge & learning & science.

Comments

  1. says

    No, it’s not all about “right answers.” The ability to estimate, to ballpark some figures, is a bulwark against nonsense, especially in a world where advertisers, politicians and medical experts are constantly tossing numbers at you. There’s a reason why math & science are so interwoven–because understanding the mathematical concepts is critical to understanding how things work.
    Republicans seem particularly dense when it comes to non-linear mathematics, leading to a complete failure to understand non-linear systems, which the world is full of.
    They never get past their simplistic “first principles,” so they never get how systems that feed back on themselves can change and/or grow out of proportion to stimuli. Such systems include climate, economics, and the spread of contagious disease. This leads them to dismiss climate change, to believe that billionaires must be brilliant and deserving of their billions, and to fight against public health measures.
    The earlier you turn kids off to math, the easier it is to get them to believe nonsense.

  2. ardipithecus says

    They’re not attacking math, they are attacking any mention of not-white or not-heterosexual. The message is that things not mentioned are less important than things mentioned.

  3. ORigel says

    “Oh, gosh, we do SEL all the time then. For example, all of my lab classes require students to work in groups, because that’s how science is done, so get started on that cooperative teamwork right now, and learning how to work together efficiently and effectively is as important as learning how to measure yeast respiration.”

    Maybe Republicans subscribe to Randian libertarianism. In Atlas Shrugged, large companies each have a single omnicompetent genius responsible for all their success. Without figures like Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggert, most of the people working for the company would die because the elect are not around to remind them to breathe. (I’m only exaggerating a little).

    To me, the most satisfying part of the Bob the Angry Flower cartoon on Atlas Shrugged: 1 hour later is when Rearden says, “All I know how to do is pay people to create new alloys.”

  4. climateteacherjohnj says

    What do the oligarchs and CEOs see in these guys? What’s the advantage of having abject stupidity and bigotry in any legislature that oversees taxation and regulation of one’s industry?
    Oh.

  5. raven says

    …on 8 of the 26 math books banned by Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans, and tried to puzzle out what was offensive about them.

    Is this what the GOP/fundie xians mean by “cancel culture?”
    They just banned 26 children’s math books.

    Other canceled targets of the GOP include CRT, SEL, Common Core, nonwhites, Democrats, normal people, gays, Trans, nonxians, Democracy, vaccines, masks, public heatlh measures to fight a novel and lethal virus caused by the Covid-19 virus, and counting dead people who die from the disease.
    The Enlightenment, public schools, science, Ukraine and Ukrainians and I’m sure I’m leaving some of their current cancel targets out.

    These people live in an ever widening pool of hate and ignorance.

  6. raven says

    This is just pandering to their electorate. There is no rational reason behind DeSantis’s politics,

    This has a lot to do with it.
    DeathSantis and the GOP have just discovered 500 communists in the Florida public schools.

    The point isn’t just a witch hunt for CRT, SEL, and common core in math books.
    It is to ban and burn books just to ban and burn books.
    It is virtue signaling for fascists.

    This is what the bad people have done throughout history from the Catholic church Inquisition to the Nazis and Commies.

  7. louis14 says

    Yes, it’s all ‘a reactionary lashing out against knowledge & learning & science’. Exactly that. The GOP doesn’t want an educated population. It wants an ignorant, fearful one that doesn’t know how to discern truth from lies, and so will vote Republican when they’re told about all the bogeymen attempting to take away their freedumz.

    Co-operation in a society is also something they absolutely do not want. If people are taught the power of cooperation, then all that masks-off, give-me-freedom-or-give-me-death nonsense will not thrive. It’s the ultimate divide and conquer.

  8. blf says

    About a week ago, teh Florida Department for Innumeric Slaves released four “examples” of supposedly-problematic text in those math books. As observed in poopyhead’s [Putin & teh thug’s Wars] Infinite Thread:

    In one example, a colored graph features levels of “racial prejudice” by age. Another example, under the heading “adding and subjecting polynomials”, begins with the words: “What? Me? Racist?” and uses the statistical results of a common survey about unconscious bias as an example for a set of mathematics problems.

    […]

    “Those examples were given with no context and were not even elementary-level material,” Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association that represents more than 150,000 educators, said. […]

    Indeed. Without even looking at the image at the link [Florida’s examples of banned topics in math books derided as ‘political theater’], the “What? Me? Racist?” uses Algebra; it is not, in any way shape or form from an elementary-schools level textbook.

    The other released examples are also hilarious.

  9. Jake Wildstrom says

    The idea of a math book being axed for “Common Core content” is inane. As the linked article points out, Common Core is a series of curricular standards, consisting of mostly the same actual content as pretty much every other curricular standard before and after. The basic idea of which math to teach, and in what order, really doesn’t change a whole lot; it just gets restructured from time to time, mostly in small details and in pedagogical strategy. If you didn’t have an edition which cited curricular units by name, you would probably be unable to tell the difference between a textbook which implemented the curricular standards of the CCSSM or CSMP or UCSMP (SMSG you could probably tell apart, because it was authentically unusual).

  10. christoph says

    Now I’m curious-what did Isaac Newton do that made him a freaky asshole? All I know about him was the anecdote about him discovering gravity after an apple fell on his head. Also that he came up with a few useful mathematical concepts.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    … I guess I’d be banned in Florida, along with all of my colleagues in biology.

    I saw this and concocted a line about “evilution”, then decided to see what Big Ron had had to say about that.

    Couldn’t find a thing except articles on DeSantis’s own [d]evolution: apparently he has yet to find it of any demagogic value. He may opine eventually, once somebody else does the work of getting evolution into the headlines: anybody want to make any bets what side he’ll take?

  12. blf says

    @11, Newton didn’t “discover” gravity nor was he the first to speculate an inverse-square description; what he did was precisely state that description and then showed its mathematical soundness explained the known physics of the time, deriving Keplar’s “Laws” of Planetary Motion in the process. No apples-onto-the-head were (probably) involved, albeit it is possible observing one fall might have caused him to wonder why the Moon did not “fall”. (It does but at the same rate as the Earth’s surface curves away from it, and so is “continuously falling” (an orbit).) One freaky thing is he tried to date the entire human(?) history of Earth (well, probably just “Europe”?) with a fixed point date for the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts (seriously!).

  13. dbinmn says

    SEL is just a new name for the Affective Domain of learning. Back in the day teachers were trained in the three domains: cognitive (thinking), affective (social/emotional/feeling), and psychomotor (physical/kinesthetic).

  14. Pierce R. Butler says

    christoph @ # 11: … what did Isaac Newton do that made him a freaky asshole?

    He was, by family tradition, a Puritan at a time when the Puritans had made themselves thoroughly unpopular, and wasted colossal amounts of energy on futile Bible-based predictions. And, when in his later years assistant director of the royal mint, he went underground to track down counterfeiters, and rejoiced in unseemly ways at their hangings (as did many at the time). Some speculate that the only long romantic relationship of Newton’s youth involved another man, but I can’t see our esteemed host using such a label for that (even though Isaac’s contemporaries would have said much worse).

    So – good question!

    PS: The falling-apple story was apparently BS, a colorful detail concocted to add a human touch to dry cerebration.

  15. PaulBC says

    I’m not sure why Republicans hate Common Core so much. As a matter of timing, they might just associate it with Obama. My kids were both in early elementary school when it was adopted, and while it was a little annoying to have any change, the standards themselves seemed reasonable.

    On math in particular (Wikipedia):

    The mathematicians Edward Frenkel and Hung-Hsi Wu wrote in 2013 that the mathematical education in the United States is in “deep crisis” caused by the way math is currently taught in schools. Both agree that math textbooks, which are widely adopted across the states, already create “mediocre de facto national standards”. The texts, they say, “are often incomprehensible and irrelevant”. The Common Core State Standards address these issues and “level the playing field” for students. They point out that adoption of the Common Core State Standards and how best to test students are two separate issues.

    Math has never been taught well in most US schools. The teachers often lack a deep conceptual understanding of what they’re teaching, and parents may have trouble for two different reasons: they don’t understand math at all or they learned different terminology and become frustrated with the presentation in the textbook, which looks nothing like what they remember.

    Parents have been complaining about math at least as far back as “New Math” in the 1960s. In fact, you can teach it many ways, and new math would have been a perfectly fine way to prepare a new generation of mathematicians, i.e. with the focus on set theoretic foundations. But it just looked unfamiliar and people did not trust it. (And maybe they wanted accountants, not mathematicians.)

    I still find myself getting a cold reception when I say things like “74322” is not a number; it’s a representation of a number. Conservatives are especially prone to hate “eggheads” and that may determine their reaction to math textbooks even more than perceived insertions of critical race theory.

  16. says

    Now I’m curious-what did Isaac Newton do that made him a freaky asshole?

    When he wasn’t inventing calculus and formulating laws of motion and gravity, he was seriously into alchemy & theology.
    Which probably seems a lot weirder now than it did during his time.
    But that thing where he stuck a needle in his eye just to see what would happen…

  17. robro says

    bcw bcw @ #12

    … all of the allowed textbooks are from the publishing house Accelerate Learning/STEMscopes which is partly owned by Gov Younkin’s Carlye Group.

    Easy to believe. Their basic strategy is trolling the proles and making friends rich.

  18. charles says

    Time to say this again. What do republicans have against education?
    They like weapons, they don’t design, build or use themselves(I may be near wrong on the last). It takes some learning to do those things.

  19. says

    I expect to see a repeat of Rick Scott’s corruption. Remember when “drug tests for the poor” was the cause celebre amongst rightwingnuts? The lab being used in Florida was partly owned by Scott. The same was true in other states, tax money was being sent to friends of politicians.

    I expect the only “approved” textbook companies will be those with connections, those bribing the repugnant party and paying kickbacks. I’ve seen reports that one already has direct connections to Ron Dysentery.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/desantis-administration-rejects-textbooks-only-122828296.html

  20. macallan says

    Functions Modeling Change contains 10 mentions of “race” but all are related to running and biking.

    My money is on … keyword search instead of actually reading any of them.

  21. PaulBC says

    macallan@23 We all know how much Republicans hate any form of transportation that doesn’t burn gasoline. So maybe there’s more method to it than you think.

    Remember how much grief Michelle Obama got for suggesting that kids do more exercise?

  22. StevoR says

    On Isaac Newton & the apple :

    <

    blockquote>Although it has been said that the apple story is a myth and that he did not arrive at his theory of gravity at any single moment,[129] acquaintances of Newton (such as William Stukeley, whose manuscript account of 1752 has been made available by the Royal Society) do in fact confirm the incident, though not the apocryphal version that the apple actually hit Newton’s head. Stukeley recorded in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life a conversation with Newton in Kensington on 15 April 1726:[130][131][132]

    we went into the garden, & drank thea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to him self: occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths center, not in any side of the earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the center. if matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton#Apple_incident

    Newton was a very strange man with some very strange ideas – some correct others not so much :

    Newton spent a great deal of time trying to discover hidden messages within the Bible. After 1690, Newton wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible. In a manuscript Newton wrote in 1704, he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible. He estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060. In predicting this, he said, “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.”

    Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Isaac_Newton#Bible

    he was also often pretty petty and cruel with evebn his famousls saying about standing onthe shoulders of giants being possibly a dig at Hooke :

    Two writers think that the sentence, written at a time when Newton and Hooke were in dispute over optical discoveries, was an oblique attack on Hooke (said to have been short and hunchbacked), rather than—or in addition to—a statement of modesty. … (snip) .. In 2015, Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, called Newton “a nasty antagonist” and “a bad man to have as an enemy”.[113] He particularly noted Newton’s attitude towards Robert Hooke and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

    Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton#Personality_and_personal_relations

    As the wikipage notes he may have suffered from mercury posioning later in life.

    As for the Repugs and maths here, it’s horrific and I wouldn’t put it past them to try making Pi = exactly 3 again.. & such “snowflakes” they are that cannot bear even the faintest hint of other different people and ideas and even ways of calculating maths that they disagree with or aren’t familiar with.

  23. whheydt says

    Re: Jake Wildsrom @ #10…
    Perhaps you’re too young to remember the “New Math” (as ably demonstrated by Tom Lehrer). It was a rather radical shift, doing large chunks of up through high school with set theory. Quite dislocating if one first encountered it in high school without exposure to it in lower grades.

    For me, at least, it did eventually come in handy when I had a flash of insight to realize that relational database languages (e.g. SQL) are built on set theory.

  24. StevoR says

    @21. charles : “Time to say this again. What do republicans have against education?”

    It makes people think about the world and others and that tends to make people NOT keen to be Repugliqon or reichwing generally?

  25. whheydt says

    If I were going to put in a biographical note about an illustrious (if little known) American mathematician, I’d pick Nathaniel Bowditch. He kept finding errors in the then standard set of navigation tables. His friends urged him just write his own book, with his own tables, rather than a revision of the one he’d been using. So he did. His book–“New American Practical Navigator”–is still in print. Needless to say it has gone through sufficient, and sufficiently major, revisions that it is somewhat like the old joke about the farmer who claimed to have George Washington’s axe.

  26. PaulBC says

    whheydt@26

    For me, at least, it did eventually come in handy when I had a flash of insight to realize that relational database languages (e.g. SQL) are built on set theory.

    Indeed. In my opinion, SQL itself is an ugly language that should have been abandoned with punch cards and fanfold printing, but relational database theory itself is an elegant framework, and it deserves a better declarative implementation than it has.

    However, I will still go with SQL when I can because it beats trying to join data procedurally. My bête noire for the past decade or so has been the trendy move away from relational DBs to key value stores and microservice architecture. I don’t know how much of my feeling is accurate and how much just means that I’m getting old and set in my ways. I was taught repeatedly (in the 80s through 2005, say) that by the 1960s or 70s at the latest it was well understood that relational DBs are the most versatile and analyzable way to represent datasets, and there was a large body of theory, e.g. on normal forms that you don’t get with flat files, key value stores, hierarchical DBs, etc. So if you’re not persisting your data relationally, you’re doing something wrong (or at least making a short-sighted tradeoff because you don’t want to bother to model your data).

    I was baffled when key-value stores were presented as the big shiny new thing. Yeah, I get it: a key and a value. That’s called an associative map, and yes I see that it scales easily, but you are stuck with just one index, and FSM forbid you want to run ad hoc queries. It does work well for simple data that must be served at “web scale”. But most people who think they are dealing with “big data” are actually not. My feeling is that if your dataset could fit on hard drive I could pick up for $80 while buying milk at Costco (around 5T last time I checked) than maybe it’s not so big after all. Your problems are still more likely to be data complexity, validation, and maintainability, not scale.

    Anyway… I think this may be a sign I should retire. “Kids today and their NoSQL.” I also suspect that a big driving force is that so much has moved to cloud servers that standardizing to AWS practices outweighs going back to fundamental principles of data organization. When I find myself thinking: “Smarter people than you whippersnappers had it figured out a long time ago and you should go back and read that first.” I wonder if I am right or just dogmatic.

  27. JoeBuddha says

    @26 whheydt
    And I read that the person who published the math paper on which SQL is based said they got the syntax backward, IIRC. That’s why .Net jiggled the syntax around a bit.

  28. divineconspiracy667 says

    It’s pure fear mongering and gulling the rubes.
    “We found that HALF of all math textbooks are trying to turn your children into commies! Don’t worry though, your Republican Thought Police Party is looking out for you and we’ve banned this vile anti-white Christian America propaganda. Send more money.”

  29. Rich Woods says

    @PaulBC #29:

    I got the hell out because I could no longer stomach the insistence of children (sorry: new employees) that basic principles of efficiency, consistency and coherency no longer applied in the cloud world. Fuck ’em.

  30. Rich Woods says

    One cannot eliminate counting from the math curriculum.

    Don’t go giving them ideas!

  31. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    You know that children in classes on social emotional learning (SEL) are significantly more likely to have an autism diagnosis at some point in their life! Why do libs hate children!
    /s

  32. Jake Wildstrom says

    Perhaps you’re too young to remember the “New Math”

    I am indeed too young to have experienced it firsthand, but I did specifically identify SMSG as a curricular standard which, unlike most, would have teaching materials which were conspicuously different from the norm.

  33. says

    Stupid people hate math
    How can you hate math? That’s like hating the law of gravity, or the laws of thermodynamics. Math is just a part of reality. That’s like hating reality. Oh wait, I think maybe, I just figured a thing out. They hate reality so they make up their own that doesn’t obey the rules they don’t like. Like 306 being a larger number than 232. Or 81 million being larger than 74 million.

    I see what they’re after. They want to outlaw math because math keeps making them look bad.

  34. PaulBC says

    Ray Ceeya@37 There may be people who hate the very existence of math in the abstract, but more typically they just hate being required to understand a mathematical argument or to do math themselves. This is at least a little understandable. It’s work and I too would sometimes prefer to leave to my brain on autopilot. The other property that distinguishes math from other kinds of academic work is that it’s self-validating. Unlike a big term paper, you can’t just stop when you feel you’ve put in sufficient effort. A minor mistake in math will propagate if you don’t catch it and will produce complete nonsense rather than a “reasonable” conclusion. Note that it’s common enough to have “an idea of a proof” and be able to express the intuition and claim that it can probably be made rigorous. I.e., there are no fatal obstacles that come to mind. Mathematicians say this kind of thing to each other, but still need to fill in the non-obvious gaps before it is publishable. Also very few people “do math” the way mathematicians do. More typically it’s a matter of solving an equation or doing a calculation of some kind.

    Another reason, as you said, is that a statement that you might want to use for some reason (sea level rise is caused by rocks falling into the water) can often be refuted just by doing a little back of the envelope calculation. So math can really cramp your style if you’re prone to BS all the time.

    There is some group at Google (data analytics?) that had T-shirt with (IMO smug) slogan “We use math.” While I agree that’s a good thing, I always wanted to stop someone wearing that shirt and say “Math, huh? Really? Whoa… how’s that workin’ out for you.” And if they try to respond I’d continue “Me, I prefer to get by on wishful thinking and peyote-induced visualization. But hey, whatever floats your boat. Math, huh? Maybe I’ll give it a try.”

  35. KG says

  36. christoph says

    @blf #15, Pierce R Butler, 17, StevoR, 25: Thanks for the insights, I didn’t know much about Newton other than the brief mentions in Grammar and high school. I did suspect the apple story was an oversimplified anecdote.
    To be fair to Newton, failure to give credit to the Bible and the church back then was occupational suicide.

  37. ORigel says

    If Floridans cannot count, it will be easier for Republicans to rig elections. For example, they can claim that Trump’s 74 million votes is more than Biden’s 81 million votes.

  38. nomdeplume says

    Big mistake to think of this as “stupidity” – it is a systematic program of anti “political corrrectness”, anti “woke”, anti “cancel culture”, anti “antifa, anti BLM, anti history, anti science, pro religion that is designed to fundamentally change society so that right wing parties can rule forever. Nothing less.

  39. unclefrogy says

    while they may not like those things they complain about it is mostly because the people they do not like like them much more then the ideas in of themselves stated in another way.
    What they do and what they say is a show, they need an enemy to focus on, a “they ” who is against “US” (or you) they can rail against. They do not care about any of it in any real way like getting a positive outcome from policy clearly because they never have been any as long as I have been watching.
    It does pay to look a little deeper and longer at how the proposals and policies work out to see where the money goes because it is much to do with the money. and little else.in the end

  40. DanDare says

    Could they be open to a class action by the publishers? It is after all disparaging commercial entities and blocking their commerce without due process.

  41. enkidu says

    It’s the beginning of the Simplification (see Canticle for Liebowitz), even without a nuclear war, a culture war is sufficient.
    Re Newton, I suspect it is slavery – he had share in the South Seas Company, which dealt in the slave trade.

  42. bionichips says

    You are over complicating things. DeathSantis is making shit up for political gain. If all the textbooks said was 1+1 = 2 he would still say it violated the state’s standards. (Unless of course as some have hypothesized the “good” books that were accepted were people DeathSantis wanted to reward)

    PS – I have an undergraduate degree in math (1970 4.0) and a M.Sc, in math from a top university (1973) and could barely understand my step-granddaughters 1st grade math questions and had to learn with her.

  43. KG says

    To be fair to Newton, failure to give credit to the Bible and the church back then was occupational suicide. – christoph@40

    He wasn’t paying lip-service. There’s no real doubt he considered his numerological-biblical nonsense as important as his work in mathematics and physics. He was also a “heretic” – he denied the divinity of Jesus – although he mostly kept quiet about that.

    Rob Grigjanis@47,
    I’ve just finished Lisa Jardine’s Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution, a very readable account of 17th-century science, with a focus on instruments and techniques, but also a lot of the personal, social, political and ideological contexts. The mutually reinforcing roles of scientific advance and imperialism (including slavery) are very clear. For example, much astronomical (and horological) work was motivated by the power-political and imperialist need for accurate navigation and surveying, and a lot of botanical work was motivated by the search for medicines (quinine was by far the most useful discovery in this area). Incidentally, many of the best-known scientific figures, including Newton, dosed themselves with cocktails of heavy metals, making it surprising they lived as long as they did (I was surprised to see at least three made it to ninety – I’d known about Wren, but Hans Sloane and Frederick Ruysch lived even longer). Very few women were allowed any active scientific role, and in at least two cases (Elizabeth Hevelius and Maria Margaretha Winkelmann) they managed to do their research only because they married much older men who were already involved in astronomy.

  44. KG says

    Me@49,
    I should add that the anti-malarial activity of quinine, in the form of cinchona bark, had long been known to indigenous Peruvians – it was a 17th-century “discovery” only in the sense that Europeans learned of its properties.

  45. Kagehi says

    @7

    Sadly.. Its not just “pandering”, its also pushing a fear narrative that feeds into the privatization of schools, especially religious based ones, which can push false history, lies, etc., without public oversight (as much as has been allowed with school boards being stacked with these same idiots), accountability, or even a clear idea what they are actually teaching. This attack on text books is just another one triple punch – hammer home a claim that people need to “fear public schools, and what they are teaching”, undermine education, so its less and less effective, and, totally coincidentally, introduce yet more bills to expand vouchers, and fund more “private schools”, who.. surprise, surprise, teach lies about how the country was founded, how great the US always is, and has been, and that we all need to thank Jesus for it.

    Anyone not seeing the bigger picture is missing what they are trying, and terrifyingly, have been, bit by bit, slowly succeeding at.

  46. birgerjohansson says

    Follow the money. De Santis and his mob get a lot of campaign money from Betsy DeVos and her family, who by a strange coincidence own private ‘education’ companies and are eager to engulf the budget currently going to public schools.
    To privatise education, public schools must be discredited.
    It does not matter if the accusations are debunked, their low-information voters will keep thinking that public schools are run by satanists allied with ISIS, if that is the road the Republican propagandists take.

    Without the profit motive DeSantis would be as indifferent to education as he has been to public health.

  47. wzrd1 says

    OK, it’s really simple.
    There’s an I in science, not a we, science is commie.
    Math is evil because the bible says that Pi = precisely 3.
    Only the bible should be taught and teach all to bow to their god-king GOP emperor.
    The only difference between their Nineteen eighty-four treatment is that their two minutes hate is continuous.

  48. Hoosier Bluegill says

    I wonder if they’ve ever looked inside a Calculus text. I mean, there are whole chapters that advocate integration!

  49. Kagehi says

    Had some clown today get real angry at a “self checkout” and walk out ranting about how it was more confusing than, “Chinese math”. Seriously wanted to ask, “What the F is, or do you think is, ‘Chinese math’?” Sigh…

    I am a bit disturbed by a book series I have been reading, where a politician, supporting a bill that would force 20% of the population into the military, due to them having, “abilities useful in combat”, and who previously helped pass legislation basically creating the ability of people to “buy contracts on their lives” (i.e., make them indentured servants, of a sort), tells the protagonist, “There are no more parties. Everything is decided at the highest levels, and politicians that refuse to play the game don’t stay in office long. In reality, how a bill will be voted on has been decided before they public is even aware it exists.”

    Then, in the real world, we get the Supreme Court of jesters “leaking” insane, bullshit, claims about “restoring the original meaning/purpose of the constitution”, or some stupid BS, and how they are using this BS excuse to overturn standing law – as unconstitutional. So.. What’s next? They overturn “adjustments” to the same constitution that undermined its original intent by reverting us to, “You have to own land, and be a white male!”? Or, will they use their blurry vision to decide that the original “land owners” would now be millionaires and billionaires, and set the “standard” as, “While males who don’t have mortgages (since that wouldn’t be owning the land really) and have more than 10 million in assets.”, or something?

    Where the F does this BS stop?

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