Friday, January 22, 2010

The Evils of Mathematics

I have had some pretty difficult and sometimes dysfunctional relationships in my life, a few of which have left a sour taste in my mouth and painful memories to bitterly recall. I think if I were to gauge it, probably the most complicated and nasty relationship I have ever been in is the one I went through off and on for four semesters. Enter my significant other, Math 1050.

Math and I have never gotten along. Ever. I think it was back when I was a toddler, learning what numbers were for the first time, that my mind checked out of anything numerically related, especially the concept of basic math. It just never seemed to appeal to me. And to whomever it does, you have my deepest sympathies. I would rather fall through the toilet hole in an outhouse than do math, that’s how much we don’t get along.

Math is a canker sore on your lip while trying to eat a grapefruit. It’s the frustrating agony you have when you are about to sneeze and your reflexes pull it back in. It’s biting your tongue just after a root canal. Math is everything beautiful and serene in the world flushed down the toilet. Math is pain.

If it weren’t so confusing I think I’d be OK. But it’s like a labyrinth that never ends. All the formulas, cosines, inverse functions and theorems are just too much for me. And the difficult thing is the teachers expect me to memorize all of these formulas and equations and stuff that I can’t regurgitate.

For example, X1 minus X2 over Y1 minus Y2 is one. That equals something, whatever that may be I don’t know, but it’s a formula for something. I’m good at telling you what pi is, but that’s pushing me to my limits. To me math is about as sensible as trying to get a sundial to work on an overcast day.

They say math has real-life applications, but I don’t buy it. The only real-life application I have found is counting all the dots in the ceiling and dividing them by the number of panels in the room I’m in, all while waiting for my stupid math class to get over. Now that’s real-world applicability right there.

I don’t ever remember being in a situation where I stopped and said to myself: “You know, this whole mess could be solved if we just plug it into a quadratic equation, complete the square, graph the equation, take the slope of that line, and divide it by our original problem. That would solve everything.”

Did everyone follow me on that last one? Good, ‘cause I got lost just trying to write the sentence.

And then there are the story problems. Oh, those are frustrating. They say you use those in real life, but you never do. For example, have any of you ever been at a restaurant and said: “OK, this piece of carrot cake has 1,560 calories in it. That is three-fourths the average daily requirement for most adults. I wonder what the average daily calorie requirement is for the average adult anyway?”

Yeah, I didn’t think so. And if you say that you did, I’m calling your bluff and raising you 10. It never happens.

To you math buffs reading this and probably plotting my execution at this very moment, please don’t be offended. I apologize in advance. I know deep down inside me that this world needs math, and it wouldn’t survive without it. I just don’t happen to see it. You’re probably shaking your head in dismay wondering how you can get me to understand. It will never happen, trust me. You’ll probably have a better chance of finding the exact square root of two than converting me to the gospel of math. It will just never happen.

All in all, Math and I are never going to see eye-level. It’s been a constant battle between us since I can ever remember, and I don’t foresee a winner any time soon. Maybe I’m just too dense and ignorant to see the point in the field of mathematics. Oh well then. As with most relationships I’ve been involved in, ignorance is bliss.

What do you think?


  1. Welcome to the blogging world! I also love the fact that the Romanian teacher helped you pass math...Romanians are winners!

  2. Hey Brock! I took Math 1050 twice and I ended up a math minor, it just takes the right teacher.

  3. Math and I don't get along very well... I think it has to do with my weird number dyslexia... I don't read them backwards, I put them in the wrong sequence instead. Yeah it's weird. I managed to get through my math classes okay but I had to be extremely strict with myself to do it.

    Happy to see you blogging :D

  4. hahaha...i totally agree! But you see, I've taken Algebra2 and Geometry twice! haha. i never got past that! I skipped class in high school! And with math, you can't afford to miss one day of that! If you do, you're screwed for the rest of the year. It's very hard to catch up!