Tuesday, October 1, 2019

2 + 2 = What?

I am sure you have read Orwell's 1984.  If not, get to it right now!  That is the most important fiction of the 20th century, maybe of the second millennium.  But a lot of people have not.  A friend graduated from Sonoma State University with a BA in Political Science, but had never read it.  How you could spend four years studying PoliSci without 1984 assigned eludes me.

You probably know that Winston is tortured until 2+2=whatever the Party says it is.  The theme that there is no absolute right and wrong is at the core of IngSoc and all other totalitarian systems.  From Seattle Public Schools:
K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework (20.08.2019)
Where does Power and Oppression show up in our math experiences?
● Who holds power in a mathematical classroom?
● Is there a place for power and authority in the math classroom?
● Who gets to say if an answer is right?
● What is the process for verifying the truth?
● Who is Smart? Who is not Smart?
● Can you recognize and name oppressive mathematical practices in your experience?
● Why/how does data-driven processes prevent liberation?
How is math manipulated to allow inequality and oppression to persist?
● Who is doing the oppressing?
● Who does the oppression protect? Who does this oppression harm?
● Where is there an opportunity to examine systemic oppression?
● How can math help us understand the impact of economic conditions and systems that contribute to poverty and slave labor?
● How does math contribute to how we value natural resources?
If you saw the magnificent 1984 (1984) with Richard Burton, you doubtless noticed that the technology of Orwell's 1984 was only very mild incremental improvements of 1940s technology.  I could not find it with a quick skim, but Orwell points out that the reluctance to accept absolute truth held back science and technology beyond the level required to make superior weapons and instruments of oppression.  (Orwell's little dig at Lysenkoism, I think.)

How will Boeing, Microsoft, and other technology companies continue advancing when " ● Who gets to say if an answer is right? ● What is the process for verifying the truth?" takes over.  If 2+2=whatever is needed to break White Privilege, who will develop AND and OR gate combinations that add binary numbers in computers.  Are there no adults left in Seattle?  There are apparently none in Seattle public schools bureaucracy.

It just occurred to me: math is white science, like Judenphysik.

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