Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Doofus Of The Day #981

Today's award goes to a moonbat professor who can't think straight.

A math education professor at the University of Illinois argued in a newly published book that algebraic and geometry skills perpetuate “unearned privilege” among whites.

Rochelle Gutierrez, a professor at the University of Illinois, made the claim in a new anthology for math teachers, arguing that teachers must be aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” in society.

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans."

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white ... she also worries that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.

“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”

There's more at the link.

I have news for the professor:
  1. Mathematics is a hard science.  It doesn't care whether the person doing it is black, white, or puce with purple spots - if they're not mathematically competent, they'll fail.  Period.
  2. Algebra and geometry have nothing to do with "privilege", and everything to do with numeracy.
  3. Mathematics, in its modern form, as far as the Western world is concerned, WAS "largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans", despite SJW claims to the contrary.  Sure, they may have got it from somewhere else, too, but it's where we got it from.  Political correctness is no substitute for a knowledge of history.
  4. If one is not mathematically capable, one WILL always be inferior in ability to those who are.  That's got nothing to do with the color of one's skin, either.  It's a simple fact of life.  I, for example, am no more than competent in basic mathematics.  I acknowledge that makes my abilities inferior to those who can handle advanced elements of that science.  So what?  I can handle what mathematics I need, and I have my own set of abilities, some of which they probably don't have.  It balances out, in the end.

As Robert A. Heinlein famously observed:

"Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best, he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear his shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house."

That may sound harsh, but it's not far from the truth.  Show me the nation, or society, or culture that has not mastered mathematics, yet has still thrived.  I have news for you . . . there aren't any.



CDH said...

What's this "Unearned" crap? Math is HARD! I earned every grade I ever got, through college engineering calculus.

Old NFO said...

Yep, it IS hard, and life is harder if you can't do math...

Jonathan H said...

Yet another person who seems EVERYTHING in life through the lens of racism and privilege - news flash; there is more to life than that!

Aesop said...

Re: #3
Not so much.

The Babylonians were doing square root equations in 1700 BC, and the concepts we so refined that the Greeks took the Arabic name for the process al jabr, and adopted it into algebra.
Geometry dates back at least as far, being pioneered in Egypt and Mesopotamia by cultures who were
a) intensely astrologically motivated
b) needed to predict both the seasons of the calendar, and religious festival days
c) had to deal with measuring land and property in countries subject to annual seasonal flooding, from the Tigris & Euphrates, and Nile.

Euclidean geometry was a wholesale appropriation, centuries later, of something the Arabs and their predecessors in the cradle of civilization had been doing for millennia before the first white European caught on.

And it was only towards the later medieval period when Arab scholars, who hadn't (yet) burned the Greek authors for kindling, passed earlier writings, including much of classical Greece, as well as the seminal Arabic works they were based on, back into the Western cultural tradition.

If Professor Snowflake had ever taken a history class, she'd have known that, and perhaps shut her piehole, because algebra and geometry were Not Invented By White People, and form the truest international language, where race, gender, skin color, etc., count for nothing, and only getting the answers right matters.

This is what happens when we give college admissions, diplomas, and tenure based on checking multiple EEOC boxes, rather than competence with one's subject. It's also what happens when liberal arts classes, like history, are dropped in favor of SJW gender studies classes, enabling affirmative action math professors to skip learning the roots of their own subject matter.

What a total idiot she is.
Which is something else Not Invented By White People.

mac said...

Puce, one of my favorite color-words.

The Unearned garbage comes from a culture that doesn't recognize hard work. It's particularly a problem with respect to talent, where it's assumed that someone with talent doesn't have to work hard.

Many years ago in college, my girlfriend was an art major. She was quite talented, in a one case preternaturally so. She also worked extremely hard for her grades. Her professors knew she had talent and skill, and pushed her harder as a result. One of her sorority sisters criticized her, claiming that art was a blow-off major. My girlfriend's response was to ask if the sister was going to take an art class then. The sister responded that it was too hard.

My analysis of this contradiction is that the sorority sister believed that if you had art talent, the course of study was easy. For ordinary, untalented people, however, it was too hard.

That was a simple, and historical anecdote. I see similar attitudes when the concepts of privilege and unearned rewards are discussed. I believe some of this attitude derives from academia being the incubator of leftist ideas. So much of academic achievement (particularly in the social sciences and humanities) is subjective. Many aren't quite sure how they earned their marks (hint: flattery and parroting). They assume the rest of reality is just as subjective and capricious.

Therefore, if you're skilled at math, it's assumed that's talent, not practice and hard work. And if that skill brings you related success in the form of a good job or strong money management behaviors, then you didn't earn that success. You're merely reaping the benefit of an accident of circumstance.

Anonymous said...

"politics that mathematics brings"

She must be explaining why both parties never seem to be able to balance both sides of the federal budget.


Anonymous said...

The “professor” is a math educator. The last math class that she had was probably basic calculus. So carefully consider the source.

stencil said...

<< A math education professor >>

...not a mathematician, then, nor a math professor, but someone who abstracts the art of teaching mathematics into a sort of second-order artform to be presented to aspiring administrators.
Christ wept.

Peter B said...

Aesop, the name "algebra" may be derived from an Arabic word, but algebra itself is not a Muslim or even Arab invention.

"The earliest known Indian work containing trigonometry dates from the fifth century AD. The Gupta period from the fourth to seventh centuries was a golden age for Indian civilization... As Katz writes, “in 773 an Indian scholar visited the court of al-Mansur in Baghdad, bringing with him a copy of an Indian astronomical text, quite possibly Brahmagupta’s Brahmasphutasiddhanta. The caliph ordered this work translated into Arabic. . . . The earliest available arithmetic text that deals with Hindu numbers is the Kitab al-jam’wal tafriq bi hisab al-Hind (Book on Addition and Subtraction after the Method of the Indians) by Muhammad ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi (ca. 780-850), an early member of the House of Wisdom. Unfortunately, there is no extant Arabic manuscript of this work, only several different Latin versions made in Europe in the twelfth century...."


"the ancient algebra of Babylon or perhaps India not only survived under the veneer of Greek [i.e. Byzantine] civilization but also was improved by a few active men. How and when it was done is not known, just as we do not know who Diophantus was — he may have been a Hellenized Babylonian. . . . In Diophantus we find the first systematic use of algebraic symbols. He has a special sign for the unknown, for the minus, for reciprocals. The signs are still of the nature of abbreviations rather than algebraic symbols in our sense (they form the so-called ‘syncopated’ algebra); for each power of the unknown there exists a special symbol. There is no doubt that we have here not only, as in Babylon, arithmetical questions of a definite algebraic nature, but also a well-developed algebraic notation which was greatly conducive to the solution of problems of greater complexity than were ever taken up before.”

The ancient Egyptians had elements of algebra, as did the Babylonians, the Chinese, the Indians (who may have gotten it from the Greeks: "There is evidence of the transmission of pre-Ptolemaic Greek astronomical knowledge to India, possibly along the Roman trade routes") though real advances were made in India, and from there it seems to have been transmitted to Baghdad and al-Khwarizmi (we get algorithm from his name.)

"Yet with the exception of the work Diophantus and some contributions by scholars in medieval East Asia, India and the Middle East, the history of algebra seemingly made surprisingly little progress for several thousand years until Renaissance Europe, after which modern algebra was born...

Al-Khwarizmi has a real claim to the title of the most important mathematician of the Muslim world. According to author David C. Lindberg, al-Khwarizmi’s Algebra “contains no equations or algebraic symbols, but only geometrical figures and Arabic prose, and it would not be recognized as algebra by a mathematics student of the twenty-first century. Its achievement was to deploy Euclidean geometry for the purpose of solving problems that we would now state in algebraic terms (including quadratic equations).” This book circulated in Western Europe and contributed in the long run to the development of a true symbolic algebra there.

Next to al-Khwarizmi, the Persian scholar and poet Omar Khayyam (yes, that one) ...compiled astronomical tables and contributed to reform of the Persian calendar by introducing ideas from the Hindu one. The result was superior to the Julian calendar and comparable in accuracy with the Gregorian one. Khayyam was the first to solve some cubic equations and the first to see the equivalence between algebra and geometry, although further progress here did not take place in the Islamic world..."

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Many years ago, I came home and gleefully told my father that the math teacher said the "new math" didn't involve any memorization, so we didn't have to learn our times tables.

My father did not react with glee and joy. Instead, my father rousted me out of bed, bright and early Saturday morning, and had me pace him as he ran around the empty track at the high school, to keep in shape for his upcoming PT test. And as we ran, he made me chant out "one times one is one. One times two is two. One times three is three..."

Years later, the memorized times tables have come in handy so many, many times, including jobs as a warehouse lead and when doing inventories (quick, it's a pallet with 4 boxes by five boxes, stacked eight high. How many boxes are on the pallet? Does it match the shipping manifest?), shopping on a budget, estimating whether or not I'd make the next fuel stop when flying with a strong headwind....

Dad really, truly, made my life far better when he dragged me out of bed, saturday after saturday. I love my dad! Unfortunately, not everyone had such a good father, which explains the current idiocy...

Judy said...

If said professor is so upset about 'math', said professor should take all their clothes off and sit in the woods until they freeze and/or starve to death. Everything you do has 'math' involved. Everybody from the aboriginal with a spear in a tropical rain-forest to US doing loop-de-loops around the moon in a spacecraft uses 'math'. What a moron!

Psychokitteh said...

"Unearned privilege" means she's not allowed to give grades, and has to leave the column blank, then explain to her dean.

Dearie me, lady, Gaussian privilege is EARNED by hard work. No bell curve or normal distribution for you! Show your work now, or turn in that not very advanced degree.

Gorges Smythe said...

I wonder if the professor has ever heard of Asians?

Phil said...

So,by that thinking all ET aliens who made a visit here (heh heh) were white aliens because they surely would have had math skills!

Anonymous said...

We can sputter, protest, offer up examples, offer up PROOF, until we're blue in the face.
This woman did not come by her stance by logic, so logic will not dissuade her.
- Charlie

Aesop said...

There are Indian precedents for algebra, but the fundamentals of both algebraic and geometric calculation are contained in Babylonian clay tablets and Egyptian papyri, both of which predate the Indian collections by one to two millennia. Babylonian clay tablets with such date to 1700-1800 B.C., and the Egyptian papyri date to 1550 BC, some 1400-2400 years before the relevant compendiums from India and Greece, to where the original concepts can be assumed to have traveled by the later dates ca. 700AD, even if transported on pack-snails.

Modern advances, from Euclid and Pythagoras to Newton and Einstein, are an entirely different matter, but the origins or implications of the art are absolutely not from anyone of whom Professor Snowflake means by "white males".

My post on the same event today includes a picture from medieval Europe ca. 1310AD of a woman teaching the concepts, from amidst the height of patriarchy in the European Dark Ages.

In any event, even tracing it to sources in the Indian subcontinent, as well as Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley, is the antithesis of White Privilege or invention (except to certain German nationalist apologists from the 1930s or so). This is the reason most of the stars have Arabic names, as they were all awarded, named, and tracked with precision by astronomers from 1000 years and more before a Pole named Copernick and an Italian named Galileo ever considered the heavens.

Higher mathematics was unquestionably derived by lots of very smart little brown people from the cradles of civilization in Asia and Africa, when my ancestors and yours were wearing skins and living in mud-floored huts, and when Ms. Gutierrez's ancestors were practicing human sacrifice to propitiate their pagan gods.

She is therefore wholly illiterate about math, history, and education. And, in all probability, everything else requiring anything like acumen or facility with the thinking arts.

And but the latest manifestation of what was described by my namesake some two millennia hence, in a classic tale with the concluding line "The grapes were probably sour".

Which ought to be translated into Latin (Uvam acerbam fuisse verisimile est), and made the motto of those, overwhelmingly Gen-Xers and the Millenials, who find any mental activity too taxing of their self-limited skill sets.

Jess said...

I'm betting the professor has a really tough time during tax season. Between the privilege of knowing math, and her acceptance of the guilt she must feel, she probably never finishes on time, and spends hours agonizing over how math is destroying her effort to create Utopia.

McChuck said...

Anything I don't know how to do is quick and easy.
Anything done by people I oppose is evil.
Anything I can't do is because of some conspiracy to deny me my rights.
My group is the best group ever in the history of the world. Any evidence to the contrary is x-ist hatemongery, and a conspiracy by "the man" to keep me and my people down.
Anything that I have is mine. Anything I want, but don't have, is a human right, and must be given to me NOW!

Did I miss anything?

Anonymous said...

Aesop, some form of geometry and math may goes back farther than Mesopotamia, because the Chinese also independently came up with irrigation and major construction, as well as surveying. So pretty much everyone can claim basic math, several cultures can claim geometry of some form, but Europeans get all the blame for the Calculus. ;)