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2ndClassCitizenPundit On February - 25 - 2011

Glossolalia 101 is a series of articles discussing how pseudo-cons, neo-cons, and theo-cons (among others) use language to disguise, dominate, and obfuscate the issues.

This first article deals with how politicians and pundits can use math to disguise what is really going on.

 

 

For those of us who passed our math courses in school and/or college, there seems to be something wrong with the math. For those of us who squeaked by in these courses, it might be tempting to just let the figures slide and accept them as presented. If you failed math or just detested it, you probably just want to nod and get past the math.

Try to restrain your impulses. One of the reasons that politicians and pundits push the numbers at you is to get you to just lay down and accept the figures as-is. Because math is hard! Reasonable people should never have to deal with math. Math is a subject for those weirdos who like to design strange contraptions, like children’s car seats that actually provide a measure of protection in the event of an accident.

Most of the people who complained the loudest about how hard and terrible math was, back in my school days, are now lawyers and politicians (or they think they are). I have to wonder how many of them were actually just trying to convince the rest of us about math being difficult and impossible, just so that we would accept their statistics quotes later in life, without question. Just nod to the nice councilman, dear. Try to look like you know what he is talking about, because he does.

It would probably shock a lot of people to learn that there is no requirement for passing mathematics, much less excelling at it, for public office. Likewise, most media outlets could care less whether or not you can find the ‘plus’ button on your calculator.

Yes, math is hard. It is impossible. Otherwise, politicians would have to find other ways to manipulate the facts to suit their agenda.

Hmm. Yeah, let’s go with that.

The first thing to remember about those who claim to be conservatives is this: every fact is up for debate.

The way this applies to math is this: every number, every digit, every operator (those funny symbols that only second-grade teachers understand, such as +, -, ÷, ×, and =) is considered by those lefties to be ‘facts’.

In other words, a two-digit number, like 23, is actually three facts to debate (2, 3, and 23)

When you get to such things as “23% of Americans believe than 12% of British subjects are 71% retarded”, the debate can last for years, unless the politician discussing it also thinks British subjects are retarded, in which case, there is nothing to debate.

Oh. That’s another thing you have to remember. If there’s a debate, that means the so-called conservative doesn’t agree with it. Either that or he/she believes that they can twist the argument around for a pay raise, campaign contribution, or to screw the other side.

When you understand that each “fact” is up for debate, you might think you see the problem. Wrong. Because so-called conservatives have their own way at looking at each fact. And each fact has numerous complications which must also be considered.

  • Did this fact enter the country legally?
  • Has this fact every owned a gun, ever shot a gun, ever shot a person with a gun, or ever handcrafted ammunition for a gun using materials currently (and unfairly!) banned from sale to private US citizens, such as cesium?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEMZoFV_1-M[/youtube]

  • Has this fact ever had an abortion, or could it have an abortion at any time in the future?
  • How does this fact feel about civil rights legislation? (conservative wannabes claim that there is only one right answer to this question, but nobody knows what it is. Just mumble a lot and make sure you say “Christian” and “states rights” a few times)
  • Has this fact ever done drugs? How do we know it is not under the influence of drugs right now?
  • Has this fact ever accepted money from George Soros, the Tides Foundation, the Nazi Party, or Anita Bryant, how much, and when? (this is a trick question)
  • Does this fact pray to the right God every morning, noon, and night? At what times? Which direction does it face when it does so?
  • Has this fact ever been unfairly victimized by leftist pundits and talking heads? Is this fact forced to pair an unfair share of its income to the federal government as taxes?
  • Has this fact ever taken money from an entitlement program without seeking permission of their duly-elected (i.e., Republican, Libertarian or Tea Party) representatives?

And the list goes on.

But let’s get to the real nuts and bolts of the subject. Nah, we’ll skip the discussion of the various sex scandals that numbers and operators have been accused of. That’s pretty boring anyway (except that slut, 6).

Let’s get to the stuff that you can use to understand the issue. You may need some smelling salts.

We’ll start with a simple math problem.

3 + 5 + 9 = ???

What is the answer to this problem? If you answered 17, you obviously were not home-schooled properly or went to the wrong private school. The answer is 5.

You see, pseudo-cons will tell you, we have no actual proof that 3 entered this country legally. The number 9 is also suspect, as there is no peer-reviewed, scientific evidence, from a reputable (i.e., Republican, Libertarian, or Tea Party) institution, that 9 even exists.

On the other hand, the neo-cons assure us, we have faith that 5 will be cleared of all charges regarding embezzlement and mishandling of public funds, and justice will be served, God willing.

So 5 is the only real number here. Therefore the answer is 5.

We will ignore the presence of those two +’s and the = for now, as that just gets too complicated. I mean, what are those two +’s doing together? Is this a Christian relationship? And as far as the =, nobody really wants to get bogged down in a discussion of Higgy-Biggy-Bison particles and fetal regression engineering experiments.

Basically, what it boils down to is this: so-called conservatives will ignore any fact that does not serve their purposes at the time. Not only will they ignore facts, figures, and operators, but they will quietly arrange a “permanent tour” of Gitmo, courtesy of Homeland Security, for them.

Now, there are other “tricks” that can played with facts and figures (not the least of which involves the Hudson River and 50 pounds of wet cement). One recent example was to display the figures reversed on a poll. It’s easy. Just put the numbers where you want them to be. If 45% are against you, and 25% are for you, and the rest are undecided, just switch it up! It’s fun for the whole family! Eureka, 25% are against, 45% are with you, and the rest are willing to vote for you if you would just appear on TV more!

If anyone questions you on it, just point them to the original source. Only lefty perverts check sources anyway. Be sure to mention that several times.

Another trick is to use all the numbers as published, and link them to something completely different.

Let’s take this (fictitious) survey on favorite colors:

red 4.88
orange 3.38
yellow 5.82
green  9.21
blue  3.57
purple  15.97
black   5.45
white  17.66
gray  11.84
plaid   15.78
paisley  6.39

 

Now, that’s pretty straight-forward, right? And therefore Unamerican.

So we check to see what a few whackjob experts have to say about colors.

Communists 4.88
– 3.38
Pacifists 5.82
Environmental Terrorists 9.21
Democrats            3.57
Lesbians                15.97
Darkies African-Americans 5.45
Caucasians Republicans 17.66
Elderly 11.84
Scottish (more Republicans) 15.78
– 6.39

 

Now we all know that paisley is a spice, not a color, and nobody really likes orange as a color, so we will just rename those “undecided”. We consolidate our figures, and voila!

Communists 4.88
Undecided 3.38 + 6.39 = 9.77
Liberals 5.82 + 9.21 + 3.57 + 15.97 + 5.45 = 40.02
Republicans = 17.66 + 11.84 + 15.78 = 45.28

 

And here you have absolute proof that, while more Americans support your side on the issue at hand, the godless liberals are dangerously close to forcing their views on our poor country.
Join us next time, when we will discuss how Liberals are trying to control our taste-buds through the implantation of microchips in comfortable shoes.

Written by 2ndClassCitizenPundit

45 year old gay man, ordained minister, veteran, writer, living in Vancouver WA (previously Palm Springs) About the time you assume I am serious, I will post something humorous or snarky; about the time you assume I am a clown, I will hit you with rational thought - don't assume. Read what I write, not what you think I write.

20 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. BigDogMom says:

    Thank you 2ndClass!

    ” alt=”Smiley” border=”0″ />

    Can’t wait to hear your take on “Political Extrapolation” by the Right!

    (ps: Hated math in school…whodda thunk I’d become an accountant one day!)

  2. Buddy McCue says:

    It’s always seemed to me that the defining characteristic of the Right is the ability and the willingness to think backward, that is: to start with answers and work toward the questions.

    It almost seems like the Scientific Method in reverse: one starts with the conclusion, works backwards through the data collection process, and winds up at the beginning, at the hypothesis.

    An example: Rush Limbaugh says that Obama wants to eventually have everyone dependent on government services, so that he can enslave us all. How did he arrive at this? By working backward.

    Conclusion: Obama is evil. Now then… Obama is advancing an economic agenda. Because we know that he is evil, he must be trying to destroy the economy. Since he is trying to destroy the economy, what data can we collect to bolster that view? And so on he works, until arriving at the hypothesis desired.

    Starting with conclusions is not difficult for religious fundamentalists either. They are used to beginning with Absolute Truths, and making everything fit.

    I once heard two people arguing over whether there is a Trinity or not. One guy was a Jehovah’s Witness, and the other guy was… I don’t remember; I think he was a Presbyterian or a Lutheran or something. They argued for a long time over whether God was Three or if he was One.

    I believe in the Creator myself, and I thought to myself, “this is silly.” Who are these two men to dictate to God what he can or cannot be? It seemed to me that God could be one, or three, or a thousand if He wanted to. It wasn’t up to these two arguing men. It seemed like vanity to me, and very disrespectful to God Himself. A more appropriate position would be to recognize that one does not know the mind of God, or the nature of the universe.

    In other words, to start with questions, and not answers.

    There’s a quote from Francis Bacon that has always appealed to me, and speaks directly to this matter: “If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient in them, we shall end in certainties.

  3. Mightywoof says:

    I love maths -- I think numbers are ‘magical’ -- I also think you’ve been channeling Douglas Adams 😆

    Great article 2CCP -- I look forward to more of your magic

    • I’m not fond of Douglas Adams. While I admire his technical ability, he seems to have the attitude that the Universe is out to get you.

      I much prefer Spider Robinson for quirky sci-fi humor. He points out the ludicrous, exalts the intellect, and has balked the Solar System Home Owner’s Association more times than I can count.

  4. Khirad says:

    OMFG. I was going to comment on the article, but you’re in The Couve?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m a Vancouver native!!! (who has lived in Tucson the past six years)

    Ever seen the Wikipedia page? I took that photo of the Marshall House on Officers Row.

    Did you see this?

    Online magazine ranks Vancouver 6th on ‘gayest city’ list
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/jan/14/online-magazine-ranks-vancouver-6th-on-gayest-city/

    Yeah, whatever, it’s nothing like across the river. But it ain’t Vantucky, either.

    Oh yeah, and funny article, too. I’m not sure if the Scottish plaid number isn’t higher though. 😉

    • Yeah, I am in the Couve. We relocated here at the beginning of February, to get away from Palm Springs.

      Nice to be somewhere where we can be a bit weird and not have people follow us around like we are the entertainment (and Palm Springers tip really lousy too).

      • Khirad says:

        Oh wow, you’re that new?! Well, welcome to my hometown. :-)

        Yeah, Vancouver. Sprawling suburban wasteland it may be, but it does allow for a little weird.

        Of course, if you want to get really weird, I suggest you take that over the bridge to Portland, sir. :-)

        I was back in SW Washington for a few months from November to early February. I drove around town a couple times when I could make it down from Kelso/Longview and man has my old side of town changed. Like, where was all this when I was growing up and in High School?!

        • Heh. Thanks.

          We’ve been enjoying it so far, despite the cold, the wet, and the chaos.

          It has a more “small-town” flavor, even if it isn’t.

          • Khirad says:

            Well from July to September you’ll be in heaven.

            Otherwise, hey, you never have to worry about sunscreen.

            And didn’t I hear it snowed? That’s actually pretty rare, and I feel robbed. Like it couldn’t have snowed when I was up there?

            Yeah for the fourth largest city in Washington it does have a pretty small town feel to it, especially downtown. You have to go to the Farmer’s Market at Esther Short Park at least once when you get a chance. It’s one of the few things Vancouver has which actually beats Portland, IMO.

    • The numbers for the example “poll” were generated by a thrice-random random number generator, only as an example.

  5. coveark says:

    That WAS funny and so correct……………

    but you made my head spin…………and I just cannot help myself with this………….

    I had no idea that Vancouver WA was previously Palm Springs…….who’d a thunk ???….:-)

  6. Abbyrose86 says:

    OH my gawd…that was hysterical.

    Although….it DOES kinda explain things….maybe you ARE on to something! :)

  7. jkkFL says:

    @2ccp- Laughed my ass off!
    One day long, long ago- I was going over a paper with my history teacher- and told him I had to go, I’d be late for algebra. His reply? Who cares-you can make numbers say anything!!
    Great Post!!
    ” alt=”Smiley” border=”0″ />

    • Buddy McCue says:

      I felt exactly the opposite way in school.

      Because my family moved around so often, I changed schools a lot (about 19 different ones before graduating.) Every subject seemed arbitrary except one: mathematics.

      Other subjects seemed to change depending on the opinion of the teacher. At one school, the literature teacher would say Wordsworth was a genius, in the next, he was a hack. The interpretation of history certainly changes according to the opinion of the teacher, sometimes THIS aspect of it was important, sometimes THAT aspect of it was important. Even science would change from region to region, depending on how fundamentalist the region was. When Truth derives from Authority, it changes when the authority figure changes.

      Math alone would not change. It exists outside of ourselves, and does not depend on the social status of the person perceiving it. Mathematical law precedes scientific law, which defines the universe, and our world within it. It existed before humankind did, and will persist after we are gone.

    • Something you *obviously* can’t do with history?

      Anyone who tries to tell you that their subject is so much better than others is trying to sell you something. I don’t like people who try to sell me on something.

      I had a bit of a fight in college over my major. I finally got tired of it (a very long story) and walked up to the college the day before classes were supposed to start. I walked up to the head of the English department and said, “I’m changing my major to Creative Writing. And you are going to be my faculty advisor.”

      She gave me a hug, welcomed me to the department, and we got to work.

      That controversy spread to every department, as I was (supposedly) one semester away from graduating with a computer degree that I would never be able to use for what I wanted to do.

      I hope everybody takes the moral of that story to heart.

      • jkkFL says:

        Actually, he was a very funny guy- one of my favorites- and he Was being funny. I was a history major, so there was no ‘selling’
        involved.


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