Intelligent Design

Another Woke math educator: Math is “white supremacist patriarchy”

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Wow, three Bads in one:

Brooklyn College Professor of Math Education Laurie Rubel argued this week on Twitter that the mathematical equation 2+2=4 “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.” Rubel’s tweet was retweeted and promoted by several academics at universities and colleges around the nation…

Several academics from institutions around the nation chimed in. Harvard Ph.D. candidate Kareem Carr suggested that math should be reevaluated because it was primarily developed by white men.

“People say it’s subjectivism to ask if math is Western. I don’t get that. It’s an objective fact that some groups were more involved in the creation of modern math than others,” Carr said. “They may have been *trying* to make it objective but it’s not stupid to ask if they actually succeeded!”

Tom Ciccotta, “Brooklyn College Education Prof. Claims Math Is ‘White Supremacist Patriarchy’” at The Jewish Voice

Carr apparently believes that the people who discovered theorems in math actually invented them the way a novelist writes a novel.

One of our longtime commenters is convinced that these people are few, unserious, and unimportant. The commenter is mistaken. Eliminating math is a way of eliminating objective standards by which Woke educators may be judged. That’s critical to their survival, as the chaos deepens and student performance worsens.

See also: One of Boghossian’s hoaxers started the Woke on the 2 plus 2 equals five drive? Meanwhile, Lindsay has a blog keeping track of Woke folk and other unfunny crazies, where he says he himself might have started off the 2 + 2 = 5 crazy, intending only to explain to someone how the Woke think.

And then they came for 2 + 2 = 4

and

The progressive war on science takes dead aim at math

40 Replies to “Another Woke math educator: Math is “white supremacist patriarchy”

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Nonsense. Tempest in an irrelevant teapot.

    Look. The math ESTABLISHMENT has been trying to tell us that math isn’t real, ever since Godel. This current attempt to fictionalize math is superficial compared to Godel.

    People who actually USE math know that it works consistently. Carpenters and cooks and drivers know how measurement works. A cook knows that doubling the ingredients will produce two cakes. A driver knows that he has to drive twice as fast to get to the same destination in half the time.

    Students who learn math by USING it can’t be fooled by Godel or by the wokers.

  2. 2
    Truthfreedom says:

    One of our longtime commenters is convinced that these people are few, unserious, and unimportant. The commenter is mistaken.

    That commenter (and other ‘brights’) say that they are physico-chemical robots.
    So I would not take them seriously.
    The amount of woke-tards is increasing exponentially.

    Evo/mat ‘maths’:
    You have 0 children.
    You get pregnant and kill (abort) your child.
    Now you have ‘increased’ your ‘reproductive success’.
    0+0 > 0

    *Sigh*.

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    I haven’t been following this topic, but if you interpret “2 + 2 = 4” in the usual way (say in light of the Peano axioms and standard mathematical notation), then it is objectively true that it follows from those axioms. (This is not to say that “2 + 2 = 5” cannot also be derived from those same axioms, incidentally, but it seems unlikely.)

    It is a shame that this example is receiving so much attention, as there are accessible examples where mathematics more obviously does carry certain philosophical (and perhaps cultural?) commitments.

    One example: Dealing with the infinite. Commenters on this blog are split on the truth value of the equation:

    |{1, 2, 3, …}| = |{2, 4, 6, …}|.

    Some, perhaps most, say that it’s true. A few say it’s false, and I’m guessing some believe it simply doesn’t make sense. I say it’s true, but I don’t think you can resolve the question using only mathematics.

    A more challenging problem: Does there exist a set S such that |N| < |S| < |R| (where N is the set of natural numbers and R is the set of reals)? It's not even clear whether there is an objective answer to this question. Some people believe it will not be resolved, in part because any axiom system which could resolve it is going to be less "intuitively obvious" than ZFC + CH.

  4. 4
    JVL says:

    DaveS: A more challenging problem: Does there exist a set S such that |N| < |S| < |R| (where N is the set of natural numbers and R is the set of reals)? It's not even clear whether there is an objective answer to this question. Some people believe it will not be resolved, in part because any axiom system which could resolve it is going to be less "intuitively obvious" than ZFC + CH.

    A famous issue that!!

  5. 5
    daveS says:

    JVL,

    Indeed. I suppose some other items on this list of statements independent of ZFC would also qualify as “neither objectively true nor objectively false”?

  6. 6
    JVL says:

    DaveS: Indeed. I suppose some other items on this list of statements independent of ZFC would also qualify as “neither objectively true nor objectively false”?

    Well above my pay grade I’m afraid.

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    JVL,

    Mine too, unfortunately. This one is not too hard to understand, though, and is one I find shocking.

    There exists a specific polynomial P in 9 variables x_1, x_2, …, x_9, with integer coefficients, such that it cannot be proved or disproved (using ZFC) that there exist integers m_1, m_2, …, m_9 such that P(m_1, m_2, …, m_9) = 0.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    As to:

    the mathematical equation 2+2=4 “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.”

    Translation, in today’s academic ‘woke’ circles, apparently the imaginary subjective truth of rampant “white supremacist patriarchy” trumps the plain and simply objective truth of 2+2=4.

    Or as Chesterton put it,

    “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense.”
    – G. K. Chesterton 1874–1936 [“The Oracle of the Dog” (1923)]

    Of related interest:

    As Dr. Vern Poythress stated, “anti-theistic philosophy of mathematics is condemned to oscillate, much as we have done in our argument, between the poles of a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge. Why? It will not acknowledge the true God, wise Creator of both the human mind with its mathematical intuition and the external world with its mathematical properties. In sections 22-23 we shall see how the Biblical view furnishes us with a real solution to the problem of “knowing” that 2 + 2 = 4 and knowing that S is true.”
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/one-of-boghossians-hoaxers-started-the-woke-on-the-2-plus-2-equals-five-drive/#comment-709204

  9. 9
    Marfin says:

    Dave S- if you required 5 of a certain type of tablet to keep you alive , and it must be 5 , 4 just is not enough dosage . Now these tablets come in packs of 2 so you take 2 packs of 2 and hey presto you have taken 5 and you will live , or hey presto there is a lovely service at your funeral. . In the real world 2+2=4 in the world of hypotheticals 2+2= cheese if you want it to.

  10. 10
    Truthfreedom says:

    @Marfin
    Do you really think you can reason with Woke-tards/ evos?
    These are insane people.
    Next thing they will say is: ‘death and funerals do not exist/ they are social constructs’.

    Our society has spawned a lot of mental illness. And instead of being treated, these lunatics are now running the asylum.

    Guess that is what happens when you remove God from the picture, tell people that their lives are useless and promote massive drug consumption.

  11. 11
    daveS says:

    Marfin,

    I agree with your example—two packs of two will not suffice. I should take two packs plus one more tablet. That’s how I operate in the “real” world.

    If someone asks me whether “2 + 2 = 4” is a true statement, then I will say “yes”, but will clarify by explaining how I interpret those symbols. “2 + 2 = 4” is a sentence written in a particular language, after all, and in a semi-philosophical discussion, we need to be precise.

  12. 12
    Truthfreedom says:

    @DaveS
    What does “real” world (with scarequotes) mean?

  13. 13
    daveS says:

    Truthfreedom,

    By “real” world, I just mean a context where I’m interested in the practical rather than the theoretical. For example, when I take medicine and need to get the dosage right. Or when I need to cut a piece of wood to the correct length, or estimate how much money I will need for a trip.

  14. 14
    Querius says:

    This is simply and completely Orwellian bullying:

    Q: How many fingers am I holding up?
    A: It’s however many that you say there are.
    Q: That’s correct.

    2+2 = whatever the mob says or you will be cancelled

    Have a nice life.

    -Q

  15. 15
    Truthfreedom says:

    @DaveS
    So the equation is:
    ‘Reality’ = practicality?

    @Querius
    Yes. And there is where we are heading:
    ‘Truth’ = whatever the person/ group of people who hold the greatest power say.

    That means that Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot (and other cute individuals) were ‘right’ to impose their ideologies.
    So were the slave holders that our leftist SJW friends despise so much (although they can not rationally justify WHY enslaving people is wrong).

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    I somehow doubt a few disgruntled humanities academics are going to change the mathematics that have served us so well for so long.

  17. 17
    daveS says:

    Truthfreedom,

    No. It’s an idiom. Please consult a dictionary if you need more clarification.

  18. 18
    Truthfreedom says:

    I somehow doubt a few disgruntled humanities academics are going to change the mathematics that have served us so well for so long.

    Thank God opinions are just that. We care about facts = those things that align with reality.

    “I doubt that that short man with a moustache is going to kill 6 million Jews’.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    DaveS states,

    If someone asks me whether “2 + 2 = 4” is a true statement, then I will say “yes”, but will clarify by explaining how I interpret those symbols. “2 + 2 = 4” is a sentence written in a particular language, after all, and in a semi-philosophical discussion, we need to be precise.

    So DaveS believes that if he spoke a different language then 2+2 would not equal 4? 🙂

  20. 20
    Querius says:

    So DaveS believes that if he spoke a different language then 2+2 would not equal 4? ????

    It depends on your definition of 2, +, 4, and = . . . And who’s asking and what’s at stake. 😛

    -Q

  21. 21
    daveS says:

    Querius,

    We don’t come out of the womb understanding the meaning of “2 + 2 = 4”. That’s a coded message in a sense. It never hurts to state FTR what you understand that message to be so there is no miscommunication.

  22. 22
    Querius says:

    DaveS,

    Ok, then please help me understand the meaning of

    Brooklyn College Professor of Math Education Laurie Rubel argued this week on Twitter that the mathematical equation 2+2=4 “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.” Rubel’s tweet was retweeted and promoted by several academics at universities and colleges around the nation…

    Thank you.

    -Q

  23. 23
    daveS says:

    Querius,

    I don’t agree with that statement, to the extent I understand it.

  24. 24
    Querius says:

    DaveS,

    So, I wonder what the range of interpretation is for “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.”

    Or to put it another way, is there an interpretation of either “2+2=4” or “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy” that you would agree with?

    -Q

  25. 25
    daveS says:

    Querius,

    Did you intend to separate the subject and predicate there? My answer to your question as written would have to be “yes”.

    However, I don’t agree that the claim “math is neutral because 2 + 2 = 4” reeks of white supremacy.

    I don’t know what “math is neutral” means, tbh. However, I argued above that adopting certain positions regarding infinity, for example, require philosophical commitments. And some here have complained about “mainstream” mathematicians robotically parrotting the Cantorian line, etc., “expelling” anyone who dares to question the approved dogma.

  26. 26
    DATCG says:

    Shouldn’t this half-baked, nutty smear attempt to hate all white people be aimed at Arabic and Hindu tribes?

    Has not the Arabic tribes murdered, traded and sold slaves for thousands of years?
    Including blacks?

    Is this not a form of Arabic supremacy? Or Hindu supremacy? We can take this anywhere the
    propagandist want to take this.

    Wiki on Arabic Numerals… the beginning of racist supremacy!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_numerals

  27. 27
    Querius says:

    DaveS,

    It wasn’t my intention to make my question complicated. It’s not about subject and predicate. It’s basically a question of logical equivalence between two statements, one mathematical and the other a judgmental statement. While you’re willing to defer to interpretation, I can’t see any possible interpretation to make the equivalence true outside a racist and sexist one. Does anyone really believe the absurdity that a woman or a minority is any less capable of handling 2+2=4 than anyone else?

    -Q

  28. 28
    daveS says:

    Querius,

    I don’t see that the author is suggesting or implying that women or minorities are any less capable of handling 2 + 2 = 4.

    She asserts that “2 + 2 = 4 => math is neutral” reeks of white supremacy.

    She could believe that while it is true that 2 + 2 =4, and people of each gender and “race” grasp that with equal facility, that alone does not guarantee that math is neutral. Perhaps it is not neutral in other ways, for instance my examples having to do with infinity. I don’t know how she gets from that to white supremacy though—it seems like a big stretch.

    Edit: Removed the word “objectively”—she denies that math is in any way “objective”.

  29. 29
    daveS says:

    PS: It would be interesting to read more about Rubel’s views on mathematics (not just twitter posts). I glanced at one of her papers on probabilistic reasoning in elementary school students, and didn’t see anything unusual or “anti-math”. She talks about simple probability problems and acknowledges that there are right and wrong answers. I doubt that she really believes that the sum of integers 2 + 2 can be whatever you like.

    Edit: The article in the OP also does not describe exactly what Rubel tweeted. Go to the original tweets for her actual words.

  30. 30
    Querius says:

    DaveS,

    I’m shaking head in disbelief. Thanks for looking up Rubel’s views and papers. I agree that while Rudel’s statement was most likely not meant to be racist or sexist, the motivation for a mathematics professor to assert that the equation, 2+2=4, “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy” beggars the imagination. Maybe it’s to gain 15 minutes of worthless approval and fame with a mob of fanatics . . . or maybe it’s a mental health issue. But how pathetic.

    -Q

  31. 31
    BobRyan says:

    Mathematics, much like the laws of physics, is based on something that already exists and does not matter where the formula was discovered. Srinivasa Ramanujan was a brilliant mathematician who happened to be from India. He flunked out of two universities in India as a result of failing everything except for math, which he excelled. Had it not been for Cambridge math professor Hardy taking a chance in WWI, no one would have ever heard of Ramanujan. Much of his work has been lost to time, but what has survived continues to advance math.

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note to “2+2=4 “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.”,

    Deutsche Physik
    Deutsche Physik (lit. “German Physics”) or Aryan Physics (German: Arische Physik) was a nationalist movement in the German physics community in the early 1930s.,,,
    Deutsche Physik was opposed to the work of Albert Einstein and other modern theoretically based physics, which was disparagingly labeled “Jewish physics” (German: Jüdische Physik).,,,
    Effect on the German nuclear program
    ,,,It is occasionally put forth[12] that there is a great irony in the Nazis’ labeling modern physics as “Jewish science”, since it was exactly modern physics—and the work of many European exiles—which was used to create the atomic bomb.,,,
    The movement did not actually go as far as preventing the nuclear energy scientists from using quantum mechanics and relativity,[14] but the education of young scientists and engineers suffered, not only from the loss of the Jewish scientists but also from political appointments and other interference. In 1938, Himmler wrote to Heisenberg that he could discuss modern physics but not mention Jewish scientists such as Bohr and Einstein in connection with it.[15]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Physik#Effect_on_the_German_nuclear_program

  33. 33
    daveS says:

    Querius,

    You’re welcome. I would just add that she doesn’t really state that the equation “2 + 2 = 4” reeks of white supremacy.

    Rather, she is talking about the statement “math is neutral because 2 + 2 = 4”.

    I don’t see that she has any complaints about the equation itself, as the article in the OP says.

  34. 34
    Querius says:

    DaveS,

    I see. Rubel is rejecting the concept of automatic racial/patrimonial neutrality of an objective truth in mathematics. (The fact that there are more than one self-consistent sets of mathematical theorems and axioms isn’t relevant to her position.)

    However, for Rubel to take that position meaningfully, necessitates that there could be an example of where an equation could be racist or patrimonial. In Rubel’s world, it might turn out that the number 5 is a secret neo-nazi or that the addition operator might reveal itself to be (gasp) irredeemably patrimonial!

    What I *think* she wants to say is that no one, not even mathematicians, can escape the Inquisition of Politically Objectionable Thoughts as determined by a mob of tyrannical, self-appointed Social Justice Fundamentalists.

    Would you disagree?

    -Q

  35. 35
    daveS says:

    Yes, very much so. I’ll try to respond tomorrow, when I have a proper keyboard.

  36. 36
    daveS says:

    Heck with it, we’ll do it live. 🙂

    Looking more carefully at the examples Rubel provides, it’s clear that she’s talking about things such as bias in algorithms used by Google, Facebook, Twitter, misuse of Stats, etc. Maybe there was a time when people believed Twitter suspended/banned people in an evenhanded way, for example, but that’s no longer the case. And these outfits can no longer appeal to the “it’s just math” defense (not that it was ever valid, of course).

    Rubel is not questioning the “neutrality” of “objective mathematical truths” (which 2 + 2 = 4 is, in a sense).

    I think a lot of people misread Rubel’s post, including myself initially. She could have been clearer and more explicit IMHO, but readers have to actually read too.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    There is an old saying, figures don’t lie but liars can figure.

  38. 38
    Querius says:

    Thanks, DaveS. That makes much more sense.

    And politics is infamous for pairing a single statistic with an equally simplistic solution. Then, when it predictably fails, out comes another single statistic that can be twisted to exonerate the unmitigated disaster that’s followed with the claim that only another million/billion/trillion will be needed for the finishing touches.

    One can make a case that the “bubble” the Google search algorithm puts people in serves only to increase political polarization and political hysteria.

    -Q

  39. 39
    daveS says:

    Querius,

    Somewhere I saw social media referred to as a “doomsday machine”, and I’m beginning to think that’s not at all hyperbolic.

  40. 40
    Querius says:

    DaveS,

    Yes. I’m not sure about calling it doomsday, but cyber oppression by self-righteous vigilantes doesn’t only damage someone’s reputation, but also . . .

    – Is unregulated by due process (i.e. she’s a witch) and appeal
    – Can destroy a person’s career by intimidating a gutless employer
    – Can invite physical assault and firebombing by deranged individuals once a person is doxed
    – Will potentially intimidate everyone into silence and compliance
    – There’s no appeal and the sentence is potentially a lifetime one
    – Social media attacks are anonymous and people aren’t not protected by libel laws

    Historically notable tyrannies can control a population through terror a surprisingly small group of individuals who deliver overwhelming force at someone’s home and “disappear” them.

    Similarly, social media can be used to out and “cancel” people. But to prevent egregious abuses, the legislature would have to navigate our laws between the extremes of complete immunity and enforced censorship of social media platforms. Unfortunately, I don’t see any motivation by our legislature to come to agreement on anything beneficial to the people that they are actually supposed to represent.

    -Q

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