Monday, December 13, 2010

What Can Base 10-X Do For YOU?

Sometimes, old isn't good. Sometimes, even the most traditional elements of society are due for a change. That's why the car replaced the horse, and democracy replaced feudalism, and why robots replaced the factory worker. One element of society that's LONG overdue for a change is our decimal number system.

Since they were first invented in modern-day Iran more than 5,000 years ago, they've stayed pretty much the same. 0... 1... 2... 3... I mean, wake me when we get to the 9, ok? Let's face it. These same old digits are just plain boring.

That's why The Math Skeptic is proud to announce Base 10-X: The Extended Integers edition. Base 10-X features some exciting new upgrades that you're going to love:

  • Extra 7, for enhanced security (denoted as 7̃).
  • Wildcard Wednesdays: from 3-7 pm, 4 can have any value you choose.
  • Every 10th 3 is the "PowerUp 3" and is valued at 6.
  • New "Ahh, Just Round It Off" decimal point option (denoted as ˳) for easy ignoring of decimals.
  • 5 has a ±2 margin of error.
  • Three 9's in a row automatically self-destruct.

Please help us spread this revolutionary new number system by lobbying textbook publishers, software programmers, and calculator manufacturers to include it in new versions of their product. Together, we can make alternative-math the new mainstream!

Scientific Proof: Numbers Are Unreliable

In a fascinating The New Yorker article I hope to read eventually, neuroscientist and frequent Radiolab-rat Jonah Lehrer proposes an elegant answer to the mysterious conundrum of the Decline Effect: All data is meaningless.

He may or may not actually have said this. It's a really long article. But it's probably what he meant, so I'll just go ahead and quote him as having said it. And Mr. Lehrer then goes on to opine that numbers indeed have a mind of their own and are capable of changing themselves at will in order to confuse scientists.

This is, as you know, what I've been saying for decades.

The Decline Effect - the primary topic of Lehrer's piece - is a phenomenon observed in many of the sciences by which a large effect measured in an initial study tends to decline as the subject is tested in follow-up studies. This is particularly evident in the medical sciences, manifesting as a stronger placebo effect when trialing new drugs. It is patently obvious to even the dimmest patent clerk what is happening here: the numbers are changing themselves based on their own personal whims and fancies, thus rendering all data invalidable.

Of course, card-carrying number-sympathizers like Steven Novella are quick to dismiss these obvious cases of Divide Intervention as "regression to the mean" or "the self-correcting nature of science."

Balderdash, I say! Science cannot self-correct if the numbers are faulty. And the numbers, evidently, are indeed faulty.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The new math

This morning I did a Google search for the phrase "2+2=5". The result? 44,200,000 hits.

44,200,000! Including such heavy hitters as NATO, Fyador Dostoevsky, and Radiohead.

If there are that many skeptics out there, can the debate over so-called "2+2=4" really be over?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Multiplication Table They DON'T Want You To See


The all-pervading arithmeticonspiracy is perhaps best illustrated by the depths to which society has been invaded by that most irksome symbol of the One World Numeracy, the multiplication table. Every day in schools around the world, children as young as five can be found honing their sheep skills by memorizing these thoroughly meaningless matrices. This theory of multiplication has even invaded our popular culture, with the mathemagicians producing catchy cartoon jingles to indoctrinate impressionable youth.

What happens to those students who dare stray from the so-called "consensus" view? They are demonized, vilified, marked "incorrect," and in the worst cases left back a grade. Think about that for a minute. For daring to challenge authority, and asserting that there may be more than one interpretation of these so-called "times tables," students are DENIED their civil rights to continue their education.

Do you know what I call that? I call it DISCRIMINATION. It is an eggregious violation of the very founding principles of our great nation.

This handy alternate multiplication table deserves to be in every textbook and curriculum across the country. And now you can buy it on a T-shirt, mousepad, coffee mug, and many other fine products at The Math Skeptic Store!

You must DEMAND your rights as a Math Skeptic. You must DEMAND that your schools include alternate interpretations of the times table. You must DEMAND that you will no longer tolerate discrimination along computational lines.

Some fifty or perhaps ninety or even twelve years ago, a woman named Rosa Parks refused to change her bus seat in order to protest racial discrimination.

Today, you can be the Rosa Parks of mathematical discrimination.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Celebrating 40 Years of Blogging Excellence (in Blogging)!

Wow! Time sure flies, doesn't it?

It seems like only yesterday that I was putting my first Hello, World post on my DARPA-net node, which later became a Usenet hub and an underground 'zine and a gopher site and finally this blog!

I'd just like to say thanks to my loyal readers who have been following me loyally for the past four decades, and hope that I can continue to entertain you all for the next forty years.

Or, at least, until 2038 when the UNIX date-stamp bug kills us all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The War For The Stars

I was aghast to learn that some of my readers are unaware of the centuries-old war between the Astrologers and the Astronomers for control of the Solar System. What are they teaching you people in school these days, besides homosexualism and evolution?

After an exhaustive evening of typing a few search terms on Google, I realized that there is little, if any, discussion of this ancient feud anywhere on the Internet, either. Upon reflection, this makes perfect sense. Both sides have good reason to cover it up, and thus they have both made Herculean efforts to remove all reference to it from the internet, as well as all world libraries and manuscripts.

For millennia, dating back to Babylonian times, the sky was the sole domain of the Astrologers. They were responsible for tracking the movements of the twelve planets in the sky and understanding their effects on our psyches and sex lives, but this was only part of their job. Less well-known is that they were responsible for pacifying the planets as well, lest they become angry and smite us with asteroids and bad lotto numbers.

And for many centuries, this arrangement worked out well. The Astrologers were revered, and the planets were kept pacified. Only occasionally would they throw a comet or solar eclipse our way to keep us in check.

Then, through the Middle Ages, some upstart Astronomers began moving in on the Astrologers' turf. In China, then India, then Persia and the Arab world - un-trained, non-Astrologers began gazing at the heavens and using new Number-based techniques such as calculus and trigonometry to predict the movements of celestial bodies. The Astrologers were understandably furious. All their hard work keeping the planets pacified was now being reduced to mere clockwork.

The conflict reached a boiling point in 1610 when a young and headstrong Italian patent clerk named Galileo Galilei began pointing a military spyglass towards the heavens and discovered the moons of Jupiter, an unconscionable invasion of the giant planet's privacy. The Astrologers could stand it no more, and declared War on the Astronomers. Working with their allies in the Catholic Church, the Astrologers had Galileo arrested for heresy and put to death for his crimes.

The Astrologers didn't stop there. Throughout the 17th Century, a great many Astronomers met their ends at the hands of the Astrologers' trained assassins - Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Taqi ad-Din Muhammad ibn Ma'ruf, the Huygens brothers, and countless others. The Astronomers fought back, using their sophisticated optical and calculation techniques to bombard the great Astrological Monasteries of the ancient world by trebuchet.

By the turn of the 18th Century, both sides were exhausted and most of the sky-observing world was in ruin. When a British geometry professor and hollow-Earth enthusiast named Edmond Halley proposed a truce between the two enemies, both the Astrologers and Astronomers eagerly came to the negotiating table. Thus in 1705, the Oxford Agreement was signed, granting both factions equal dominion over the heavens, so long as their areas of operation remained separate. The Astronomers would be allowed to observe and predict the motions of the stars and planets, and the Astrologers would be the planets' communicators and interpreters.

To commemorate the long-sought peace agreement after a century of brutal war, the Astrologers appealed to Jupiter and Saturn to ellipticize the orbit of a rogue comet that had randomly terrorized the Earth for centuries, which the Astronomers were then permitted to observe and document amid great fanfare. The comet was named for the peacebroker Edmond Halley, and since then has served as a reminder both of the truce between the skywatchers and the bloodshed that preceded it.

Today, I fear that both factions are inching towards conflict once again. The Astronomers are clearly seeking sole dominion of the skies, with their mountaintop telescopes and orbiting observatories. They have even sent robotic probes to view the outer planets close up, angering them immensely. The recent demotion of the planets Pluto, Ceres, and the Moon - and the Astronomers' consistent denial of the existence of the twelfth planet, Nibiru - has left our celestial neighbors and their Astrologer messengers positively furious. Asteroid "near misses" such as 2010 AL30, which just buzzed us today, are more than just warning shots - they are harbingers of what is to come.

Astronomers, be advised. You are playing with fire. I only hope that it is not too late to prevent a second War For The Stars.