Math Baiting: Reinforcing The Division Between Math and Non-math people

“99% of people can’t solve this…” – FAKE NEWS!

You’ve probably seen those posts that have some kind of a math problem on them where they’ll give you something that looks like simple arithmetic, or banana plus apple plus orange equals 15 and then 2 bananas + a pear equals 12 and then what’s the sum of three pears? and then they’ll say something like: 99% of adults will get this wrong! or only geniuses can solve this.

and those things are just …clickbait.

it’s math bathing, that’s what it is.

there’s nothing about those kinds of problems that reflects at all on our level of intelligence or even our level of understanding of mathematics. they’re just badly presented problems. I mean sometimes you can use algebra to solve them but the truth is, it’s just presented in a way that makes it seem purposely very daunting and it doesn’t have to be that way. 

oftentimes what they’re counting on in these problems is that there are common mistakes that people make that are not necessarily understanding mistakes, sometimes they’re just calculative mistakes, careless mistakes. you know maybe you need to refresh your memory on the order of operations and what you’re supposed to do first is it the multiplication or the addition inside the parentheses? and really it’s not fair, but they’re preying on that weakness and they’re saying I bet you don’t remember your order of operations let’s see and then you know this is not the right answer so therefore you’re not a genius.

What they do is they end up reinforcing the stereotypes that divide the world into math people and non-math people, and the idea that geniuses and only geniuses can solve this correctly. but the truth is really the people who can solve them correctly are simply the people who do math everyday, and so they know the order of operations because they’ve been doing it regularly. because math is a muscle. math is exercise, and it’s okay if you try to do something and you’re a little rusty because you haven’t done that in a long time. That doesn’t say anything about your ability to do that particular thing. It just means you might need to warm up a little. you might need a refresher, and that’s totally fine. It certainly has nothing to do with being a genius or not.

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