A shocking study recently revealed that more than half of Americans believe Arabic numerals shouldn’t be taught in schools. But here’s the catch—Arabic numerals, unbeknownst to many, are the numbers that we use every day (1, 2, 3, etc.).
“Ladies and gentlemen: The saddest and funniest testament to American bigotry we’ve ever seen in our data,” John Dick, CEO of CivicScience, the market research firm that conducted the survey, tweeted on May 11 along with a screenshot of the results.
CivicScience polled 3,624 Americans on their opinions about mathematics instruction in U.S. schools. When asked, “Should schools in America teach Arabic Numerals as part of their curriculum?” 56 percent said no. Only 29 percent said yes while 15 percent had no opinion.
Dick explained on Twitter that “our goal in this experiment was to tease out prejudice among those who didn’t understand the question,” adding that “most people don’t know the origins of our numerical system and yet picked a tribal answer anyway. You can argue that one is worse than the other but both prove a similar point.”
Ladies and Gentlemen: The saddest and funniest testament to American bigotry we've ever seen in our data. pic.twitter.com/Bh3FBsl8sR
— John Dick (@jdcivicscience) May 11, 2019
Dick’s original tweet has Twitter abuzz, receiving over 61,700 likes so far, as people react to the obvious prejudice that the results prove still exists in America. “We’re doomed,” one person commented, while another joked, “Wait until we have ‘freedom numerals.'”
Other people pointed out the question’s similarity to a recent episode of satirical comedy Veep, during which Presidential candidate and proud anti-vaxxer Jonah proclaims, “Math was created by Muslims. And we teach this Islamic math to children. Math teachers are terrorists! Algebra? More like Al Jazeera… I will ban this Sharia math from being taught to American children. There will be no more math.”