Thursday, February 4, 2016


The other day, I saw this formula posted on Facebook:
6 ÷ 2(1+2) = ?

Of course, some folks answered 9. Others answered 1. The question is intentionally designed to get people to do just that - give two supposedly correct answers. I hear-tell Bernie Sanders answered it with "grapefruit," but math has never been his strong suit.

What was an interesting study was that both sides used "order of operations" and PEDMAS to validate their answers. And that's when I noticed something... the folks answering 9 had to really twist things up to make those two rule sets work.

A bit of Google-fu, and my thoughts were corrected. They are not rule sets, but simply guidelines that attempt to standardize answers. Because of the fact that those guidelines can be interpreted two ways, a question constructed like this is done so on purpose - just to cause angst.


And some people love to do nothing but that. Often, they are people who are overly-sensitive themselves. These folks envy those who do not let emotions dictate their lives, and so they try to get them to a point of emotional turmoil. But fact is, a person not inclined to get overly emotional will not, by definition, get overly emotional about such things.

Now, all that said, my take on the solution:
Distributive property. Look it up. Read it. Understand it.
The minute you put parentheses around the "1+2" is the moment you wanted to distribute the factor into it. If you want the answer 9 from the above, then you must write the equation:
(6÷2)(2+1) =

Otherwise, you are simply being intellectually dishonest with yourself. Or you simply don't do reading comprehension. Maybe you had a subpar math teacher.

But, because the distributive property exists. Because it is a rule, and not simply a suggestion of order of operation. One must solve the equation thusly:
6÷2(2+1) =
6 ÷ (4+2) =
6 ÷ 6 =

If you solve for this and get 9, then you simply ignore or rewrite the meaning of the distributive property. If this is the case, then you need to simply discontinue using parentheses in mathematics altogether, you are clearly not responsible enough to handle them.

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