1 January 2020

More on Modern Mathematics

The Times on Monday continued to pile on its misinformation. Poor dim Libby Purvis: "The decade ends ... with ...". Even the usually intelligent Clare Foges: "What is the essence of the decade that ends tomorrow ...".

Are things as bad in Europe and North America?

A thought occurs to me.

If our modern intelligentsia really is incapable of thinking numerically above 9, this may explain a common factor in our national life.

Whenever there is some expensive national project ... such as a big new railway line ... an airport ... we are told that it will cost £Xbillion pounds. Ordinary people like me instinctively and immediately know that the cost will rapidly rise to £Xx2billion, or probably £Xx3billion. Why is it that I (no qualifications in Maths above an O-level) know this; you know this; but the Experts and Government Ministers don't?

I think we have the answer: clever people operate on the principle that in the complex numerical reaches beyond 9, really anything goes and who b****y cares.  If it is convenient, let's say that 9=10 ... or whatever equals whatever you or your girl-friend's poodle feels like.

Or perhaps the poor poppets are so permanently stoked up with hallucinogenic drugs that they are never really quite sure how many fingers they have.

As I said before, Snowflakes!


Protasius said...

I fail to see a problem in referring to the ten years from 2010 to 2019 inclusive as a decade. A decade is first and foremost a period of ten consecutive years, without prejudice of the beginning or end of it. I am therefore entitled to e.g. refer to the years from May 7, 1991 to May 6, 2001 inclusive as the first decade of my life.

In my opinion, there are good reasons for both viewpoints: If we count the years cardinally, it is natural to celebrate the beginning of the 2020s as the start of a new decade. If we count them ordinally, it is more natural to consider 2011 to 2020 as the second decade of the third millenium.

To add to the heap of confusion, there is an international standard on date formats (ISO 8601) actually defining a year 0 which by convention is identical to 1 BC, –1 corresponding to 2 BC, etc.

Prayerful said...

Happy New Year Fr to you and your family. I suppose extra funds are needed for extra consultants, extra design changes, stuff for their entrepreneur pals, and maybe some lawyers and accountants to investigate it afterwards, matters too complicated for the little people like me.

mcgod said...

Happy and Blessed 2020 to you and yours,
As for your counting conundrum - perhaps mathematics for the snowflakes teacheds only binary mathematics which is the traditional basis of computer coding It only has 2 digits 1 and 0 applying it to the expression of the deacdes depends on which finger they start counting with
You may recall the panic as the world changed the date from 1999 to 2000 the so called Millenium bug - could,t trust the worlds computer chips to cope with a date change from 99 to oo because 00 is a default value when the technology wants to say there is no value

GOR said...

Happy New Year, Father!

Your aside about the ever-escalating costs of ‘public works’ projects reminded me of an associated issue. When cost overruns occur in the public sector – despite detailed studies having been made by expensive ‘experts’ and approved by the ‘competent’ authority – why is no one in public life ever held accountable?

Of course we know the answer: it’s public money, or rather, the taxpayers’ money. So the ‘competent’ authority doesn’t have to foot the bill; you and I do. In the private sector you have no such scapegoats. If you screw up to such an extent, you are out of a job. Time to hold those in public life similarly accountable!

PDLeck said...

Happy New Year! The dear old Beeb is getting it wrong too but I have long since known they are not a reliable source of information. It seems to me that accuracy and precision, indeed even education, are seen as oddities from another age.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Well, the English Health service will do a cervical test exams on men who claim to be women


and so it is no surprise that other examples of confusion abound amongst the race Pope Gregory the great lovingly called The Angels.

Vavsevekivekov said...

It is really quite simple: people name decades. It strikes them as absurd to say that 2020 is not in the decade named "the 2020s". At any rate, the naming is foremost in people's heads over counting. So they reject numbers in favor of nomenclature and say the decade of the teens is over. QED

Unknown said...

The French,I think, know how to count, and put a higher velue on logic and coherence then the English ever did. Certainly they celebrated the new millenium at the END of 2000. The pathetic Blair government, like its pathetic predecessor, built the Millenium Dome with no idea what to put in it when they could & should have given themselves another 12 months to sort it out.

John Patrick said...

As far as big projects, like your Crossrail / Elizabeth Line in London or whatever they are calling it this month, they run over budget because they are budgeted way too optimistically to start with because if they told us the true cost it would never get approved. A bit like car or condo salesmen when they say you can buy your new motor or "luxury" flat for "as low as" X dollars/pounds you know you will never get it at that price - "Oh you wanted tires? - that will be an extra $500". And so on.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Depends a bit on whether the decade referred to is 2010's or 2nd Decade of 21st C.

One of these would be 2010 - 2019. The other of these would be 2011 - 2020.

By the way, Hilaire Belloc in his The Road to Rome told a story when the Devil was foiled from taking a soul about what year twentieth C. began.

Devil considering he was having the appointment to collect the soul of a certain Charles at midnight 31.XII.1900 / 1.I.1901, but the man's patron saint - Charles Borromeo - claiming the Devil had missed his appointment by one year.

The Devil claimed to have all the press, all the universities etc on his side, and St. Charles, appearing on behalf of a soul to save, answered "but I have the Pope on my side".

Obviously, Popes being often enough Italian, they would have been thinking in terms of Ottocento vs Novecento.