Study Shows 9 Out of 7 Americans Lack Basic Math Skills

WASHINGTON, D.C.  A new report issued today by the American Society of Arithmetic Instructors reveals that innumeracy–mathematical illiteracy–has remained stubbornly resistant to efforts to improve Americans’ math skills.

“Copying from each other isn’t going to help–you’re both idiots.”

“Many Americans lack the basic skills to understand NFL point spreads or to subtract cents-off coupons in checkout lines,” said Wilson Rath, a fourth-grade math instructor at Bernie Carbo Elementary School in Seekonk, Massachusetts.  “Our productivity suffers because of toll takers who can’t make change.”

Bernie Carbo:  “Is 2 an even number after Daylight Savings Time, or does it go up?”

The study was based on a survey that asked adults basic math questions posed to contestants on the Fox Network’s “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”  “We asked people how many places they could carry pi out to,” says Norman Salkic, who co-authored the study.  “Eleven percent said 3.14 was as far as they could go, 21% said they didn’t serve pie, 47% said they didn’t offer take-out, and the rest claimed we had the wrong number.”

         Pi are square, but pie is round.

Educators such as Rath blamed the tendency of local politicians to name schools after sports heroes rather than scientists and mathematicians.  “Bernie Carbo once blew a sign because he didn’t know whether 2 was an even or an odd number,” he notes of the former Boston Red Sox outfielder for whom his school is named.  “Our youth baseball programs are at risk of falling further behind the Japanese, who win the Little League World Series every year anyway.”

While the final numbers have not yet been tabulated because researchers used solar-powered calculators indoors, Salkic says it appears that nine out of every seven Americans may need remedial help in computing numbers.  “That’s 1.2857%,” he observes, “which is a lot.”