Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Nancy Pearcey: A dispatch from the Woke war on math

arroba Email

The Woke are quite serious about making math a branch of identity politics:

Rochelle Gutiérrez, an education professor at the University of Illinois, writes that “mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as the mathematical community is generally viewed as White.” Gutiérrez charges that algebra and geometry perpetuate white privilege because the textbook version of math history is Eurocentric: “[c]urricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

I’m not sure which history textbooks she’s talking about. We all use Arabic numerals, and in my college math class, we learned that the concept of zero as a place holder came from India; that the Babylonians gave us the 360-degree circle and the 60-minute hour; that the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Chinese all had a rough idea of the value of pi. The approximate ratio for pi even appears in the Bible: “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about” (1 Kings 7:23).

Nancy Pearcey, “Does Mathematics = Western Imperialism?” at American Thinker

Pearcey is assuming that facts matter. Not to the Woke.

Critical theorists argue that mathematics is just another arbitrary human creation that has been used to privilege certain groups while excluding others. Since all worldviews are regarded as equally valid, the selection of any one worldview to teach in the classroom can only be a matter of privileging the interests of one social group over others.

Nancy Pearcey, “Does Mathematics = Western Imperialism?” at Ameerican Thinker

The war was bound to come down to math because math stands firmly in the way of the full on attack on reality that Woke Cancel Culture needs. Many of them may feel genuinely Unsafe in the presence of operations signs.

Realistically, it is also a great excuse for not really teaching math, made to order for teachers who justifiably lack confidence in their ability to do so. Some (really smart) kids will learn on their own, others will be sent to private or charter schools, and the rest will be encouraged to find some person or group to blame. It all works if you don’t mind the kids being innumerate.

See also: And then they came for 2 + 2 = 4 … One thing the self-described progressive Woke perspective will certainly do is trap disadvantaged students in poverty. They will be forever consumers, not creators, of technology and the power and prosperity are largely on the creation side.

It's time for critical theorists to be a lot more critical of their theories and it's time for the woke to wake up to the blatant racism inherent in the "Preservation of Favoured Races by Means of Natural Selection". Until they do, they will wander aimlessly in a fog of math confusion. Battman
Fasteddious @ 1 There are more than enough wealthy who actively support socialism. They could come together and buy their own country. Plenty of countries have a lot of debt and land deals are not a new construct. The problem is they have no desire to build anything to prove socialism works. They are obsessed with tearing down every country they perceive as having stood in their way of socialism working. It is never the fault of socialism when socialism fails. BobRyan
The idiots are the students who are fed propaganda and bumper sticker slogans by people who claim to be educators. There has not been education in the US for decades. If schools, colleges and universities were focusing on education, we would not have seen the decline of basic knowledge. BobRyan
Eugene, point. It is of course folly on the march, a manifestation of Frankfurt school, culture form marxism through critical theory and linked deconstructionism, here extended to addition facts, multiplication tables, tables of logs (& sines, compound interest etc), tables of integrals, Laplace transforms, Fourier and Z transforms etc and the like. What would they say, to learn that the leading book of tables of special integrals (there is no systematic, simple framework) -- Gradshteyn and Ryzhik -- is a product of Communist Russia? What we see here is rebellion against the built-in logic of structure and quantity in any possible world. Deconstruction doesn't work when applied to something like that, and thus reveals its failure to break "any" text. From that, we see a way back to sanity: recognising self-evident first truths and duties of reason, recognising logic and mathematics, recognising the built-in law of our responsibly and rationally free (so, morally governed) nature, recognising the Supreme Intelligence as root of reality. Building sound civilisation. KF PS: Epictetus on the priority of logic, antecedent to "proof":
DISCOURSES CHAPTER XXV How is logic necessary? When someone in [Epictetus'] audience said, Convince me that logic is necessary, he answered: Do you wish me to demonstrate this to you?—Yes.—Well, then, must I use a demonstrative argument?—And when the questioner had agreed to that, Epictetus asked him. How, then, will you know if I impose upon you?—As the man had no answer to give, Epictetus said: Do you see how you yourself admit that all this instruction is necessary, if, without it, you cannot so much as know whether it is necessary or not? [Notice, inescapable, thus self evidently true and antecedent to the inferential reasoning that provides deductive proofs and frameworks, including axiomatic systems and propositional calculus etc. Cf J. C. Wright]
That is how far gone we are. kairosfocus
To KF@3 >Idiots. No, they are not. They have been able to infiltrate and hijack the institutions of every 1st world country (spare maybe Japan, Israel and Switzerland?), and they have been able to gas-light more than 50% of the people there. They may be evil, but they are definitely not idiots. Eugene
Would it be an arbitrary human construction if they get shortchanged at a shop? aarceng
I think you credit Professor Gutiérrez's views with a lot more influence than they really have, particularly in view of her apparent ignorance of the history of the subject.. Seversky
Idiots. kairosfocus
The trouble with numeracy in US is not the operations, it's knowing when and how to use math. Knowing how to measure, how to separate constants and variables, finding the baseline. US education has completely failed in this area for 100 years. Common Core tried to improve things, but it doesn't seem to have helped much. Some (not all) of the wokers are actually aiming in the right direction, focusing on real world problem solving with or without math. polistra
Perhaps the woke could all join together and set up an independent country - let them choose where, perhaps one state in the Union, or some central American country like Belize. By independent, I mean, disconnected from the realities they rant against: no capitalism, no consumerism, no coal/oil/gas; meat free, no police, women and people of colour in charge, and so on. They can choose their own constitution and how to run things. They can indoctrinate each other as they see fit. But they cannot accept support or help from other countries. They could trade with other lands but only by barter - no money allowed. You get the idea. Then they can "progress" their country anywhere they want to go, by whatever means - a true political/social experiment, by willing participants. The rest of us will stand back and watch - see what's left in five or ten years. Fasteddious

Leave a Reply