If you look a bit foreign, don't do math on a plane

  • Thread starter ZapperZ
  • Start date

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Borg
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,004
3,083
Clearly she came to a conclusion that just didn't add up.
:doh:
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland, Nahyo and atyy
  • #3
The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism.

The curly-haired man laughed.

He laughed because those scribbles weren’t Arabic, or some other terrorist code. They were math.

Yes, math. A differential equation, to be exact.
I agree, this is too stupid to be made up :headbang:.
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland, ProfuselyQuarky and billy_joule
  • #4
micromass
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
22,129
3,301
Does economy really qualify as math?? :biggrin:
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland and Pepper Mint
  • #5
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
The American paranoia isn't just famous, it's also increasing! Must be very unpleasant to fear everybody you meet around the clock.
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland and billy_joule
  • #6
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
Does economy really qualify as math?? :biggrin:
Microeconomics, hmm, perhaps not, but macroeconomics without math is simply empty. :wink:
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland
  • #7
ogg
148
36
The female passenger is the one who should have been detained for raising the alarm without any valid rationale. Hopefully, she will be barred from any future air flight. If not, then ignorance wins. This seems to me to be EXACTLY an example of unreasonable and unjustified search and seizure. The fact that the airline took action with zero valid justification should be heavily sanctioned. Perhaps a $10 million dollar fine per incident, would do the trick. Oh, and make sure that any appeal be handled by an arbitration judge who is compensated with a % of the fine. Ignorance is not a valid excuse, even if the Washington Post abuses the dumb blonde (sexist) stereotype, again.
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland and Pepper Mint
  • #8
russ_watters
Mentor
21,525
8,571
Does economy really qualify as math?? :biggrin:
I'm reasonably certain differential equations are a tool of evil.
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland and nsaspook
  • #9
russ_watters
Mentor
21,525
8,571
The female passenger is the one who should have been detained for raising the alarm without any valid rationale. Hopefully, she will be barred from any future air flight.
I'm not sure I agree. She's dumb, sure, but I'm not sure it is a good idea to strongly discourage people from speaking-up. Usually, there isn't enough of that.
This seems to me to be EXACTLY an example of unreasonable and unjustified search and seizure.
As far as I can tell, there were no searches or seizures involved here, but even if there had been a search, it wouldn't have been unreasonable: everything you have is subject to search on an airline flight.
The fact that the airline took action with zero valid justification should be heavily sanctioned.
Disagree. The airline has a responsibility to the safety of its passengers and their bar for pro-active protection of safety is extremely high.
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland, Hoophy, nrqed and 3 others
  • #10
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
3,511
4,182

It was at one point a joke going around on the internet: http://www.ms.uky.edu/~jrge/340/Weapons_of_Math_Instruction.html
At New York’s Kennedy airport today, a person later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a drafting triangle, a compass, and a calculator.

During a press conference the Attorney General said he believed the man was a member of the notorious al-Gebra movement and the FBI intends to charge him with transporting weapons of math instruction.
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland, DrClaude, CalcNerd and 4 others
  • #11
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
I'm reasonably certain differential equations are a tool of evil.
Uhmm, ...., you know that your avatar shows someone next to an instrument which is supposed to stare a the biggest differential equation we know of?
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland and Pepper Mint
  • #12
micromass
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
22,129
3,301
Uhmm, ...., you know that your avatar shows someone next to an instrument which is supposed to stare a the biggest differential equation we know of?

Why do you think we spend so much time staring at it? Because it's evil!
 
  • Like
Likes James Holland, ProfuselyQuarky and Pepper Mint
  • #13
1,195
515
It was at one point a joke going around on the internet: http://www.ms.uky.edu/~jrge/340/Weapons_of_Math_Instruction.html

You can put somebody's eye out with a compass! :oldeek:

As far as the terrorist, I'd be looking for dangling fuses hanging out of his shoes or Gatorade bottle. If he's just starting to mathematically work out the kinetics of his explosive device during the refreshment service on a 41 minute flight, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
 
  • #14
259
787
300px-Paris_Tuileries_Garden_Facepalm_statue.jpg


[PLAIN]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facepalm said:
A[/PLAIN] [Broken] facepalm (sometimes also face-palm or face palm) is the physical gesture of placing one's hand flat across one's face or lowering one's face into one's hand or hands, covering or closing the eyes. The gesture is found in many cultures as a display of frustration, disappointment, exasperation, embarrassment, horror,[2] shock, surprise, exhaustion, or sarcasm.
What does the scouter says about her education level? That she's lacking a little in the math department.

My math isn't awesome, but at least I recognize differential equations.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #15
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
Happily it has been only mathematics and he wasn't dealing with radicals. Imagine a chemist dealing with (free!) radicals!
 
  • #17
atyy
Science Advisor
14,756
3,269
Very educated woman :biggrin: Lots of maths is Arabic. Algebra is. Edmund Halley learnt Arabic.
 
  • Like
Likes StatGuy2000 and ProfuselyQuarky
  • #18
1,803
787
This is utterly appalling. Racism at its best.
 
  • Like
Likes StatGuy2000
  • #19
StatGuy2000
Education Advisor
1,904
1,016
I'm reasonably certain differential equations are a tool of evil.

So I take it that differential equations was not your favorite class in college? :wink:
 
  • Like
Likes ProfuselyQuarky
  • #20
StatGuy2000
Education Advisor
1,904
1,016
Oh, dear. Where to begin?

As I understand from the article, the woman on the plane thought that the man sitting beside her on the plane was suspicious because (1) he had an accent, (2) he looked "Middle Eastern", and (3) he was scribbling something on a piece of paper.

First, since when does a foreign accent and looking "Middle Eastern" sufficient for the man being suspicious? The man wasn't even Middle Eastern, he is Italian!

Second, since when does writing on a piece of paper constitute a threat? Even if the man was writing something in Arabic script (which, btw, may not necessarily be Arabic -- it could be Farsi, Urdu, or any number of other languages), chances are that whatever he was writing was probably innocuous -- he could have been writing a letter to his mother! At any rate, how dangerous is someone with a pen, anyways?

Third, has this woman never taken math in school in her life? She may not know what a differential equation is, but she should know what an equation is, and should know that it's not a foreign script. After all, we write equations using the Latin alphabet, with occasional Greek letters!
 
  • #21
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,717
9,642
Third, has this woman never taken math in school in her life? She may not know what a differential equation is, but she should know what an equation is, and should know that it's not a foreign script. After all, we write equations using the Latin alphabet, with occasional Greek letters!

You vastly overestimate the math knowledge of the average American. I think it's common for people who understand math at least through trig and calculus to do that and even more so for people who know more advanced math.
 
  • #22
StatGuy2000
Education Advisor
1,904
1,016
You vastly overestimate the math knowledge of the average American. I think it's common for people who understand math at least through trig and calculus to do that and even more so for people who know more advanced math.

I'm from Canada, and there are many people here in this country whose math knowledge is minimal at best, so I don't expect the average American to be any better or worse in that regard. And I didn't expect her to understand the equations he was writing, but at the same time, anyone who can read should know that what the man was writing was not a foreign script. I don't think that's too much to expect of an average American, is it?
 
  • #23
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,717
9,642
I'm from Canada, and there are many people here in this country whose math knowledge is minimal at best, so I don't expect the average American to be any better or worse in that regard. And I didn't expect her to understand the equations he was writing, but at the same time, anyone who can read should know that what the man was writing was not a foreign script. I don't think that's too much to expect of an average American, is it?
Probably. I've known college graduates who could not identify what the integral symbol means and probably were not sure if it was part of a foreign script. It looks Arabic after all. AND, 60% of adult Americans have not graduated from college.
 
  • #24
micromass
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
22,129
3,301
Probably. I've known college graduates who could not identify what the integral symbol means and probably were not sure if it was part of a foreign script. It looks Arabic after all. AND, 60% of adult Americans have not graduated from college.

Really? Does something like ##\int_1^2 \sqrt{1 - x^2}dx## look similar to بشرية النفط الأعمال كل وتم. عن وبداية بالمطالبة وفي, تصرّف الأخذ جهة بل. وجزر شموليةً لكل ان, جسيمة الموسوعة ضرب عن, تم بحشد حلّت الخاسرة دار. لم أمام وانهاء وبالتحديد، تلك. تم تلك حادثة الإطلاق.

Even if you don't know integrals, I think the difference between math and arabic is pretty obvious.
 
  • #25
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,717
9,642
Really? Does something like ##\int_1^2 \sqrt{1 - x^2}dx## look similar to بشرية النفط الأعمال كل وتم. عن وبداية بالمطالبة وفي, تصرّف الأخذ جهة بل. وجزر شموليةً لكل ان, جسيمة الموسوعة ضرب عن, تم بحشد حلّت الخاسرة دار. لم أمام وانهاء وبالتحديد، تلك. تم تلك حادثة الإطلاق.

Even if you don't know integrals, I think the difference between math and arabic is pretty obvious.
Yes, I think so too, but obviously this lady didn't and I don't think she's even close to being alone. After all, I doubt if she really looked at it. Something like an integral sign probably jumped out at her and she then jumped to the wrong conclusion. I just don't find it all that surprising.
 
  • #26
micromass
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
22,129
3,301
Yes, I think so too, but obviously this lady didn't and I don't think she's even close to being alone.

I don't trust this article at all. I think some parts are exaggerated and there are things they're not telling us. And until I hear from the lady herself, I refuse to believe that she thought math was arabic.
 
  • #27
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
.... but she should know what an equation is, and should know that it's not a foreign script.

Oh you awesome naive innocent person. ... not a foreign script ... You can't even imagine how foreign this is. And not restricted to the USA.
 
  • #28
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,717
9,642
I don't trust this article at all. I think some parts are exaggerated and there are things they're not telling us. And until I hear from the lady herself, I refuse to believe that she thought math was arabic.
I just don't see why you find it hard to believe that a significant number of Americans could confuse a few higher math symbols for a foreign script.

various polls show that about 40% of Americans believe in ghosts. This one says 45%
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/02/real-ghosts-americans-poll_n_2049485.html

various polls show that about 40% of Americans believe that Aliens have visited Earth. This one says 36%
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/ufos-exist-americans-national-geographic-survey/story?id=16661311

various polls show that over 50% of Americans believe in angels. This one says 77%
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-nearly-8-in-10-americans-believe-in-angels/

And don't even get me started on religion, Creationism, etc.
 
  • #29
micromass
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
22,129
3,301
I just don't see why you find it hard to believe that a significant number of Americans could confuse a few higher math symbols for a foreign script.

various polls show that about 40% of Americans believe in ghosts. This one says 45%
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/02/real-ghosts-americans-poll_n_2049485.html

various polls show that about 40% of Americans believe that Aliens have visited Earth. This one says 36%
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/ufos-exist-americans-national-geographic-survey/story?id=16661311

various polls show that over 50% of Americans believe in angels. This one says 77%
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-nearly-8-in-10-americans-believe-in-angels/

And don't even get me started on religion, Creationism, etc.

I don't see how any of that is relevant to distinguishing math from arabic.
 
  • #30
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
I doubt that a significant number of Americans have the slightest idea of how arabic may look like.
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters
  • #31
micromass
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
22,129
3,301
I doubt that a significant number of Americans have the slightest idea of how arabic may look like.

Really? Everybody who watches the news and sees all these "terror groups" has seen some arabic.
 
  • #32
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
Really? Everybody who watches the news and sees all these "terror groups" has seen some arabic.
The Americans I know draw another picture of the common knowledge of the average American.
Edit: I doubt it's any better over here. Some special issues excluded for the rate of contamination is by the nature of our societies a higher one.
 
  • #33
micromass
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
22,129
3,301
Well all of this is anecdotal anyway. I would be very interested in a serious study where american citizens need to distinguish different "languages" and where it turns out they can't distinguish math from arabic. Maybe you're right, and they can't. I doubt that. But until they seriously investigated it, I'm not going to pick a side.
 
  • #34
fresh_42
Mentor
Insights Author
2021 Award
16,700
16,054
In radio shows they sometimes do random street polls and ask people simple questions like: What's the highest position in the state? How long does it take the earth to orbit the sun? What does <any latin originated word> mean?
I regularly have to change the channel because I can't stand the answers.
(Of course I know they cut in the especially stupid ones. However, they occur and are seemingly not hard to find.)
 
  • #35
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2021 Award
28,240
12,916
At any rate, how dangerous is someone with a pen, anyways?

The pen is mightier than the sword.
 

Related Threads on If you look a bit foreign, don't do math on a plane

Replies
54
Views
6K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
66
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
26
Views
12K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
36
Views
11K
Replies
51
Views
12K
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
57
Views
5K
Replies
20
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
2K
Top