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mad-scientist and computer programmer looking for something more interesting than most people accept as their future
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    No Math Intuition
    Project: Polytopia


    Most people do not understand PLUS and MULTIPLY when they see them in things they use almost everyday.

    Choose a random person and ask them: Whats the difference between CONTRAST and BRIGHTNESS in the options of a TV?

    Probably they will answer "Contrast makes the colors more different and brightness makes it more white or more black", or they may answer "I don't know but I mess with it until the TV picture looks good."

    Those are not intelligent answers. They are answers by people who only understand CONTRAST and BRIGHTNESS through "trial and error" which is the second-least intelligent strategy to learn things. The first-least intelligent strategy to learn is "error and error again without the desire to learn" which is what people usually do on most problems until the problems become 1 of the top 5 things bothering the person. For example, if you don't recognize PLUS or MULTIPLY when you see them in your everyday life, then there is little desire to learn PLUS and MULTIPLY until they finish signing up for new cell-phone service which has a monthly cost of the sum of 5 to 10 different fees and taxes, none of which the cell-phone business is able to calculate until you agree to a 2 year contract to pay the 5 to 10 unknown costs. People who do not understand PLUS and MULTIPLY can easily be fooled into paying 50+x+y+z dollars per month because x, y, and z are unknown numbers and anything that is unknown is less of a problem than something that is known. Most people's highest priority (for example, when they're at a cell-phone store) is to agree to pay an unknown cost every month for years on a contract, and the lower priority is to learn PLUS and MULTIPLY which could be used (by the cell-phone business before the person walks into the store, for example) to calculate the monthly cost of the cell phone, but somehow people think its ok to buy something without knowing the price, probably because they have no intuition of math.

    Back to simpler example of BRIGHTNESS and CONTRAST on a TV:

    BRIGHTNESS is PLUS. CONTRAST is MULTIPLY. A TV is made of many red, green, and blue lights. Each light has some amount of light coming from it. That amount of light is something like: BRIGHTNESS plus CONTRAST multiplied by [the original amount of light coming to that part of the screen].

    Why can't people figure that out? Why doesn't this obvious example of PLUS and MULTIPLY come into their thoughts when they're adjusting how the TV screen looks? I can think of only 1 reason: They don't understand PLUS and MULTIPLY unless its written (on paper, for example), and more than that, if most people read this and learned of their ignorance of PLUS and MULTIPLY, they would still have little desire to learn it and would still prefer to pay 50+x+y+z dollars per month for a cell-phone (on a 2 year contract) before knowing what x, y, and z are.

    I don't think bad things about people just because they don't understand math, but I have to hold myself back from insulting people who let their ignorance of math cause problems (higher cell phone prices, where x or y or z is a bigger number, for example) and have little desire to learn basic math and solve such practical problems. Why will most people ignore such easy solutions to big problems? Why don't most people want to know how to add and multiply?

    I'll give another example: Many people think that 2.99 dollars is much less than 3.00 dollars. How do I know this? Because advertisers calculate lots of math and figure out intelligent ways to get people to buy the most stuff, and making most prices (in USA at least) end with 9 (like 24.99 or 3.49 or 2.99) proves that many people, who have had years to figure this out (which would have saved them lots of money for little effort) but did not, are not smart enough to know that 2.99 is almost the same price as 3.00. Why do they buy significantly more products when the price is almost the same? Because they lack intuition of math and have little desire to learn basic math.

    And finally a big one, something most people think can be done easily, but I will prove it can not by offering some money to figure it out...
    I'll pay 1000 dollars (I'll sell something if I have to) to anyone who counts, reliably like a scientist counts and proves things, how many laws there are in USA at any time in the future you choose (like next week at a specific second minute and hour). Most people accept some inaccuracy in counting votes, but it is insane to not be able to count how many laws there are, but somehow it has become normal to think the government should not have the ability to do basic math on the most important things (like laws or votes). You want $1000? Prove the government of USA can do basic math, and do the basic math (with no errors) to count the laws, and its yours. Or if nobody can count the laws (with no errors), I am proven right, that the government of USA can not do basic math (and the people who elect leaders who can not organize a government to do basic math like counting laws). To show how serious I am about this offer, read about the "USA Quantum Law Challenge" I wrote at http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=159047 which is a similar (and more advanced) series of money/counting offers I'm planning to make, when I figure out the details. But for now, its just an offer of $1000 to reliably count the laws in USA any time you want. How many laws? Its an integer.

    Whats the difference between CONTRAST and BRIGHTNESS in the options of a TV? Contrast multiplies. Brightness adds. Maybe next time you see basic math in your everyday life, you will recognize it and think of ways you can benefit from knowing how things work (like a lower cell-phone bill or better government).

    As technology advances, what will happen to people who have little desire to understand how it works, basic math, and other things that could benefit them? Those who do not want to learn will be obsolete, not interesting. Maybe we can leave them all in some place to continue their repetitive tasks as long as they like, while the rest of us move on to more interesting things. People who do not want to understand how things work or improve things are not going to invent faster-than-light starships, but the others can build technology to figure it out for them. The brute-force strategies that people live by today only work because theres not enough global organization and intelligence (of people and of technology) to obsolete those strategies, but things are changing quickly, and it is in everyone's selfish interest to start having a desire to understand how things work. People think I'm crazy when I tell them I expect to be flying on an intergalactic starship in the year 2040 (or before that), but most of those people do not understand PLUS and MULTIPLY, so I expect them to think advanced math (like learning the laws-of-physics and how to use it) is impossible.

    It all starts with a desire to understand how things work.

    Mon, Jul 19, 2010  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Polytopia
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