• A Brief History of the Republican War on Math

    Fill in the blank: (2+5) x ____ = (5×2)+(5×5). If you answered "learnin' about the distributive property is for communists," you're of one mind with Eric Bolling of Fox News, who took issue with a Scholastic worksheet he accused of "push[ing] the liberal agenda."

    "Distribute the wealth with the lovely rich girl with a big ole bag of money, handing some money out," mocked Bolling, who claimed the textbook was part of  leftist "indoctrination in schools."

    Bolling still has a ways to go to reach the heights of math paranoia. In Glenn Beck's hands, this worksheet would have produced a soliloquy about algebra's Arabic origins and transitioned to a rant about the commutative property, which sounds like commutation, which sounds like Obama releasing violent felons from prisons to steal Americans' money. Nevertheless, Bolling did enough to join the conservative anti math-league, whose members include:

    * Everyone who supported the plan by Gov. Bobby Jindal to create a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups. A Beka is among the textbooks used by the Christian schools funded by taxpayers under the Jindal law:

    "Unlike the 'modern math' theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, A Beka Bookteaches that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute…A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, and workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory."

    * Supporters of the Missouri constitutional amendment mandating that "no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs," which sounds like it might be an issue in a country where people think set theory is the work of the devil.

    * Mike Huckabee, inducted to the club for his memorable remark, "I didn't major in math, I majored in miracles."

    * Rush Limbaugh, Dean Chambers, Dick Morris and anyone else who thought Nate Silver's spreadsheets were dark magic.

    * The statistical geniuses who showed us all a pie chart could be:

    * And those who committed this atrocity:

    * Last but not least, Bolling will be welcomed into the Republican anti-math league by Karl Rove, who, in the words of Megyn Kelly, only does the math that makes "Republicans feel better."

    Photo by Kris Timken/Blend Images/Getty Images

    Tags: Bobby Jindal, Education, Fox News, Karl Rove, Louisiana, Mike Huckabee, Missouri, Polls, Rush Limbaugh, Science & Technology


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