Equitable Math

The Bill Gates Foundation has donated millions of dollars to promote the Equitable Math notion that “Math Suffers from White Supremacy” because the emphasis is on getting the right answer.  “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates objectivity and the fear of open conflict.”  (How they get from there to white supremacy is never explained.)

Excuse me, but what’s wrong with objectivity?  And why single out mathematics as having only the right answer?  Isn’t that the tragic, defining failure of all sciences – of all education?  I suppose Bill Gates, the Oregon Department of Education, et al. have singled out mathematics because everybody hates math.  As soon as mathematics is dead and buried, they’ll go after all the other sciences.

I’m an engineer.  Virtually every engineering class I ever took was literally 100% math.  I have a BS in mechanical engineering, an MSE in aerospace engineering, and close to a Ph.D. in mathematical physics (all from the University of Texas at Austin, a leading engineering institution), and I can say that every homework, every exam, and every other evaluation gave partial credit even if you didn’t get the correct answer.  You always get credit for method, for exhibiting what you know in your calculations.  

Bill Gates, by the way, never got a college degree, and only attended college for two years, taking nothing more than what would now be considered junior high level math.  

Fortunately, for energy conservation, there is no right and wrong answer.  There is math, mind you, in calculating the cost and benefits of investing in any given project:  payback equals cost divided by annual energy savings.  The cost is easy to calculate, but the annual energy savings is always a rough estimate. You crunch the numbers as best you can, but your actual savings on the project are unknown until after the fact.

There nevertheless are rules, guidelines, and standards in energy conservation.  There is a right answer, too, on whether to invest in a given project or not.  Engineers and contractors always make their best effort to minimize the unknowns and maximize the return on your investment; then, when petitioned for their judgment, they recommend a project or not.  The only way they (we) can do this is because many years of training and practical experience have fine-tuned our sense of objectivity to an exquisite razor’s edge. That’s what a mathematical education is all about: cultivating objectivity and judgment. 

If there was one, single thing that would benefit every high school student most in life, it’s objectivity.  Bill Gates and all the other pseudo-academic prunes should be promoting math, not denigrating it.

Every energy engineer and energy contractor is trained to be prepared for open conflict.  It’s always a struggle to convince somebody to spend good money on unfamiliar technology.  Four years in college, asserting your rights against professors and teaching assistants to get proper credit for your partial answers, well prepares engineers for open conflict.  Mathematics, then, doesn’t instill a fear of open conflict but quite the contrary: a math education trains you for open conflict.  Math fortifies your assertiveness genes and bolsters your spirit to fight for what’s good and right.

Personally, I think it’s disgusting (to the point of vomit) that Bill Gates, who made his billions by stealing the brilliant ideas of millions of dedicated, hard-working mathematical experts, has the extreme arrogance to belittle the very science that made him filthy rich.  Apparently, his extreme wealth has ripped all objectivity out of his now nonexistent soul and, by insulating him from all open conflict, has coerced him into attacking that which he fears most: the bitter, objective truth. That is: he’s a moron.

Future Tech ! Children in pre-school should be schooled on objectivity and exposed to mathematics as a proving ground for assertiveness and conflict resolution.