Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'm starting to wonder if Idiocracy is actually coming true.  In facebook, there was a question posted:

1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1-1+1+1+1+1+1+1x0 = ?

As of this writing, 2,285,885 people have answered.  The breakdown:
1,129,160 say the answer is 0
858,938 say the answer is 14
249,918 say the answer is 16
47,869 say the answer is 17

Now, I can understand the people who said 16 because they probably missed the subtraction symbol when counting-up the ones.  The answer that gets me is the zero, and the reason it bothers me so much is that people who have long since gotten through grade school mathematics have insisted that their answer is correct, "because anything times zero is zero."  That's true except that evaluating this requires that you adhere to order-of-operations, which makes an expression like this non-ambiguous.  If anyone had any question whatsoever about this, then the first thing they could do is put the whole expression into a short computer program and see what the answer is.  My guess is that those who insist it is zero pumped it into a $3 calculator and forgot that calculators don't follow order-of-operations, and most simply subtotal as each operator is pressed.  It is amazing that the overwhelming majority of the people got this wrong.

I started thinking about it in terms of religion, and coupled it with Bionicdance's mantra of, "Don't run on automatic...Think!"  Now I understand how people can actually believe the fairy tale known as religion and be able to support it so vehemently.  Even though people had the opportunity to see the overwhelming evidence that the mathematical expression above does not evaluate to zero, I'm sure many effectively ran on automatic as soon as they saw the number of people who actually did answer zero.  Religion is the same thing.  While there is no proof of a god, and there is significant scientific evidence that leads us away from a god's existence, and that none of the gods have ever taken time out of their busy schedule to make their presence clear and give us the ability to understand them, the overwhelming majority of people still believe in a god.  Does that mean they're right anyway?  Not even close.

This also shows why the United States is not a pure democracy and why the founders didn't intend for rule of the country to be by the majority.  The majority is not always right.  Having a representative government was supposed to overcome this situation by having the people elect educated, intelligent representatives who had our own best interests in mind to make governmental decisions on our behalf.  Some of those decisions may not be ones that were popular, but they were intelligent ones, and in the end we knew they were what was best for the long haul.  What we have now is an utter mess in politics driven by special interests that seriously don't have anyone's best interests in mind except their own.

Rule by bureaucracy, belief in fairy tales, being too lazy to look-up what order-of-operations is in mathematics.  If this isn't running on automatic, I don't know what is...

PS:  I'm going to admit that it took me a long time and several iterations of searching every reference I could find to make absolutely sure that 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1-1+1+1+1+1+1+1x0 was not zero.  When I answered "14" and discovered that I was going against the decisions of over a million people, I was really wondering what I wasn't seeing that they were.  In the end, I felt based on the evidence I gathered that I was, indeed, correct, along with another 850,000 people.  Now I understand how it is for people who are on the fence about belief in a god, but can't seem to break free from that majority...


Anonymous said...

According to the order of operations as I was taught it, you first do the multiplication, which takes care of the 1x0 right at the end, eliminating that 1.

Next you do the addition. So I would have thought you resolve the additions either side of the - giving 10 on the left and 6 (one 1 has been eliminated) on the right.
Finally you do the subtraction, giving 10-6 = 4.

So what have I misunderstood?

Anonymous said...

OK, so searching for an answer, it appears that those who know this better than me have pointed out that the order of operations actually gives equal weighting to the multiplication/division operations and to the addition/subtraction operations and does not put them in ranked order as I had been taught. So that does give 14 rather than 4 and answers my question.

Anonymous said...

The answer is 14. Everything else you said is as stupid as clicking 0.

Anonymous said...

Get a life people and let's start worrying about important things rather than how many fb users have let thier brains atrophy due to ingrained celeb culture and an appetite for vacuous false talent as marketed by cowell and his minions. At the end of the day most folk will be caught out and off guard by a random quiz question, it does not mean the world is going to end. Why don't you all calm down, have a cup of tea and go and play dungeons and dragons for a bit. That might cheer you all up.

Anonymous said...

Think it is funny that people say anyone that clicks zero is an idiot. the problem is, it isn't defined as a real number expression or a boolean. so 14 would be correct if it is real number.
however if it is boolean it would be 0
personaly I think there is an engineer out there laughing his butt off over the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

"No Evidence of God" is not the same as others.

BASIC Physics defines as fact, information (something) can never be lost and conversely information (something) cannot be made out from nothing. So if this basic premise of science holds true, how did the universe come to exist from nothing at all?

This is a FACT in many eyes of a power beyond what we can understand (a deity), that contrary to science, something came from nothing somehow.

You can argue all the intricacies of minute details you desire, but it still reverts to one problem. Where did all the matter of the Universe come from? If it was always there, how is this possible, science does not even know where to begin with this notion. If it was not always there, how did it become to exist if information cannot come from nothing?

Anonymous said...

"According to the order of operations as I was taught it, you first do the multiplication, which takes care of the 1x0 right at the end, eliminating that 1.

Next you do the addition. So I would have thought you resolve the additions either side of the - giving 10 on the left and 6 (one 1 has been eliminated) on the right.
Finally you do the subtraction, giving 10-6 = 4.

So what have I misunderstood?"

Thanks for asking.
Because there are no parenthesis or brackets in this equation, we only group together each individual diget (in this case we can use the word diget as it's only the number 1 and not a double, triple, etc. diget number) with the diget next to it. This doesn't lead to a chain adding up to 10 and then a chain adding up to 6. So, starting from the beginning, we see that there is a multiplication sign. This has to be done first, with the number to the right of it (do what is in the parenthesis first).


As we know (1x0) = 0, we don't need this part of the equation anymore, as it amounts to nothing. Thus we now have:


Next, we notice the subtraction sign. This again only effects the digets next to it. Thus:


As (1-1)=0, we can also get rid of this bit, leaving:


This is equal to 14.
What you were doing was putting together the numbers like this,
Which would then be 10-6=4.

Anonymous said...

im pretty sure its 13.

cpu said...

For the first time I am closing comments on a topic ... this one.

Since I wrote the entry, I have final comment rights, and here they are:

1. The answer is 14. If you have any doubt about this, put this into your Linux shell:

echo '1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1-1+1+1+1+1+1+1*0' | bc -l

If you don't agree, then it is time to re-take math class.

2. Atheism means I see no evidence for a god, and therefore I do not believe in one. As soon as reasonable evidence is presented to me that there is some higher power, I will reconsider my position. To date, nobody has done so.

That does not mean I know (or understand completely) how the world came into being, or why life evolved as it has. That lack of knowledge doesn't provide proof of a god. It just means I (and probably all of humanity at this point) do not know for sure how the universe came into existence.

It is my position that it takes maturity to admit you don't understand how the world came into existence rather than to believe that a supernatural being was responsible.

3. My concern about others' belief in a god is their willingness to take a book of ancient fables (The Holy Bible, among others) and use various interpretations of such work as fact and try to impose that as law that all of us should follow.

That sets a dangerous precedent, at best. At worst, it turns the United States into a theocracy that imposes the religious beliefs of the majority just as the Church of England did. This is the reason for the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

4. I have said this before, but I will repeat it now ... that if there truly is a god or higher power of some kind, I firmly believe that being would find it a complete waste of our time in this world to spend our time worshiping it.

I am confident that if I do face "judgement day" sometime between now and when my life on this planet ends that I have nothing to fear. I have made mistakes, but as a general rule I have lived my life learning both responsibility and compassion and strive to make the best out of what time I am in this world. I can't imagine a higher power that would expect any less, and would probably look down on anyone who wasted their life in worship and trying to convince others to do the same.

Peace, people.

-- CPU