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...