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Old 05-14-2019, 05:38 PM
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Majority Opposed To Teaching Arabic Numerals


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When CivicScience, a Pittsburgh-based market research firm, polled more than 3,200 Americans on the issue of mathematics instruction last week, 56% of the respondents said Arabic numerals should not be taught in American schools; 29% said it should be part of the curriculum, while 16% offered no opinion....
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:45 PM
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I'm surprised that I'm not surprised by the poll.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:52 PM
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Obviously people prefer Roman numerals. I, myself, am a bit slow reading them...
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:57 PM
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I have some bad news for the 56%...
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:00 PM
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I have some bad news for the 56%...
LVI%
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:02 PM
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Was this because of that plot line on Veep? I mean, did the people who conducted this poll watch Veep and get the idea from there? Life imitates art, I guess.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:11 PM
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So Civic Science has basically reduced itself to a version of Jay Leno's "Jaywalking", is my take away from that article.

Says more about them than the people who don't remember some obscure lesson they were taught back in third grade.

This was just some bull shit tactic to get people to imply: "Muslims are bad. Mmmkay?"

Last edited by Grrr!; 05-14-2019 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:28 PM
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Was this because of that plot line on Veep? I mean, did the people who conducted this poll watch Veep and get the idea from there? Life imitates art, I guess.
It could be the neurological effects of dihydrogen monoxide exposure.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:34 PM
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It could be the neurological effects of dihydrogen monoxide exposure.
I was once totally into that. The experience left me breathless.
But the hard stuff left me cold.

Last edited by running coach; 05-14-2019 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:35 PM
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Remember freedom fries?

Introducing freedom numerals: 1,2,3,4,5,6,...
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:35 PM
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So Civic Science has basically reduced itself to a version of Jay Leno's "Jaywalking", is my take away from that article.
This annoys me as much as those 'sign this petition to remove dihydrogen monoxide' or 'are homo sapiens worth saving'. hurr durr durr. Let's show the internet how dumb people are.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:00 PM
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I oppose the teaching of French numerals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rmBqIFeHN8
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:06 PM
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It could be the neurological effects of dihydrogen monoxide exposure.
You beat me to it.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:19 PM
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This was just some bull shit tactic to get people to imply: "Muslims are bad. Mmmkay?"
Imply? Ignore for a moment the ignorance aspect. If you asked the same people if "Texas Numerals" should be taught in class, do you honestly think there would be much objection?
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:37 PM
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Imply? Ignore for a moment the ignorance aspect. If you asked the same people if "Texas Numerals" should be taught in class, do you honestly think there would be much objection?
Sure, because Texas Numerals only go up to 7.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:38 PM
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Imply? Ignore for a moment the ignorance aspect. If you asked the same people if "Texas Numerals" should be taught in class, do you honestly think there would be much objection?
I think we are in agreement. I doubt very many would object to "Texas numbers" being taught.

Maybe I articulated it poorly. It's just a shady way to get people to admit to their own prejudices.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:43 PM
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It's just a shady way to get people to admit to their own prejudices.
Can any way that gets people to admit their own prejudices be considered "shady"?
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:51 PM
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A tougher question is should students be allowed to go algebraless in the classroom?
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:55 PM
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LVI%
+I

Last edited by GreysonCarlisle; 05-14-2019 at 07:57 PM. Reason: Meh. It was funnier in Times New Roman.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:02 PM
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Says more about them than the people who don't remember some obscure lesson they were taught back in third grade.
No it doesn’t. I agree it’s a little like Leno but these assholes are letting their bigotry outrun their stupidity.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:23 PM
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In the spirit of fighting ignorance (and bigotry): the numbers you use everyday are Hindu numerals, not Arabic, though the sheikhs get all the credit. Not that it matters to those who oppose it, but at least give blame where it is due.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:28 PM
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I, myself, am a bit slow reading them...
II, complex calculations (such as multiplication and division) can be extremely cumbersome.
III, they don't handle fractions or decimal numbers well.
IV, the numeral one can be easily mistaken for the English-language first person singular personal pronoun.
V...
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:26 PM
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This was just some bull shit tactic to get people to imply: "Muslims are bad. Mmmkay?"
Exposing bigots is never bullshit.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:10 PM
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Exposing bigots is never bullshit.
Its just a bullshit gotcha poll that exposes ignorance more than anything else.

Here's a classic clip from the man show where multiple women sign a petition to end women suffrage, same sort of thing.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=y0TgCgdvJ2c
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:21 PM
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This poll doesn’t expose bigotry in any meaningful way- suppose,as many respondents believed, “Arabic numerals” really did refer to an existing alternate Arabic number system- I would answer no to that question as well without any anti Muslim bias, simply on the basis that it wouldn’t be a useful enough discipline to devote time towards in an already crowded curriculum


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Old 05-14-2019, 11:48 PM
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Obviously people prefer Roman numerals. I, myself, am a bit slow reading them...
I couldn't remember the Roman numerals for 51, 6, and 500. I'm LIVID.
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:28 AM
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This poll doesn’t expose bigotry in any meaningful way- suppose,as many respondents believed, “Arabic numerals” really did refer to an existing alternate Arabic number system- I would answer no to that question as well without any anti Muslim bias, simply on the basis that it wouldn’t be a useful enough discipline to devote time towards in an already crowded curriculum
That's what I'm leaning towards. While I'm sure a good number of folks said "no" just because of the word "Arabic" in there, what would a poll about learning "Hindu numerals" or "Japanese numerals" or "Thai numerals" look like? I think with a "control" group like that, it'd be more instructive to be able to tease out simple ignorance of the term "Arabic numerals" to bias (which I do believe exists in this poll--it's just that without any point of reference, I can't tell from this poll how extreme it is). On its own, this poll doesn't tell me much other than the average person didn't pay attention in school.
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:46 AM
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I couldn't remember the Roman numerals for 51, 6, and 500. I'm LIVID.
Easy:

LI
VI
D

Oh, OK, now I get your point, Johnny. Let's face it, the only place I get to use this knowledge is in the Game Room, in the "Count to a Million" thread.

Slurking away into the shadows....
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:11 AM
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Drilling a bit deeper into that poll:

Question: Should schools in America teach Arabic Numerals as part of the curriculum?

Politically, do you consider yourself more of a:

Republican:
17% Yes, 72% No, 11% No Opinion

Democrat:
40% Yes, 34% No, 26%

Independent:
31% Yes, 57% No, 12% No Opinion
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:29 AM
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Just curious, how many of you are aware that in some Arabic countries, they do use a different set of Arabic numerals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Arabic_numerals

A while back, I saw an Egyptian market trader using Eastern Arabic numerals on a scratchpad, so I can confirm (well, one data point) that they're actually in use.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:44 AM
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Maybe I articulated it poorly. It's just a shady way to get people to admit to their own prejudices.
I see nothing "shady" about it. It's a straightforward question that anyone with a modicum of education should be able to understand and, if they don't, they should have the sense to ask for clarification of the term "Arabic numerals". The fact that the 56% didn't indicates that they jumped to a conclusion based on prejudice.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:17 AM
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I see nothing "shady" about it. It's a straightforward question that anyone with a modicum of education should be able to understand and, if they don't, they should have the sense to ask for clarification of the term "Arabic numerals". The fact that the 56% didn't indicates that they jumped to a conclusion based on prejudice.


It doesn’t indicate anything about prejudice. Is prejudice one of the reasons people would jump to that conclusion? Of course- but another reason is simply that people assumed Arabic numerals referred to a different number system than what we use, because if you’re not familiar with the term, it would sound like it’s a different number system than what we use. It’s a worthless poll because there’s no way to determine the breakdown of the respondents’ reasoning. There are much more accurate ways to gauge the extent of prejudice that don’t require reaching conclusions based on multiple assumptions, and polls like this do more damage than good in the fight against bigotry
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:56 AM
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I see nothing "shady" about it. It's a straightforward question that anyone with a modicum of education should be able to understand and, if they don't, they should have the sense to ask for clarification of the term "Arabic numerals". The fact that the 56% didn't indicates that they jumped to a conclusion based on prejudice.
Now your assumptions/prejudices are showing.

Do you really think that everyone with a "modicum of education" would answer the context-free question: "tell me about Arabic numerals" would say "oh, those are just the numbers we use every day!" ? My guess would be that most Americans, have no idea what Arabic numerals are. Do you really think that every person who doesn't know off-hand what Arabic numerals are is an idiot?

Do you really think, as pulykamell asked, that if the question had asked about "Norse numerals" or "Mongolian numerals" that "56% No" number would have changed meaningfully towards "Yes"?

I don't argue that there are prejudices that likely affect the numbers in this poll, but it's ridiculous to draw the conclusion "most Americans are prejudiced!!!!" from this data.

Let me be clear, it may be that most Americans are prejudiced, but this poll is not evidence of that fact.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:04 AM
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Do you really think that everyone with a "modicum of education" would answer the context-free question: "tell me about Arabic numerals" would say "oh, those are just the numbers we use every day!" ? My guess would be that most Americans, have no idea what Arabic numerals are.
What Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are, is taught in elementary school. If you went to elementary school, you will know what Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:11 AM
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I don’t remember I ever being taught in school that our numbers are specifically called Arabic numbers, certainly not in a way that stressed that terminology in the way “Roman numerals” were


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Old 05-15-2019, 09:14 AM
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What Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are, is taught in elementary school. If you went to elementary school, you will know what Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are.
I think you have way too much faith in the ability of the average person to remember the name of our number system. Roman numerals we remember because they're different. The one we use day-to-day, I bet the average person on the street would not know they are called Arabic numerals.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:20 AM
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I think you have way too much faith in the ability of the average person to remember the name of our number system. Roman numerals we remember because they're different. The one we use day-to-day, I bet the average person on the street would not know they are called Arabic numerals.


Agreed, which may be the only thing this poll does confirm, though it could also just be another flaw in the poll, in that an unknown % of the respondents may have known full well what Arabic numbers are and just don’t think math should be part of the curriculum
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:31 AM
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What Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are, is taught in elementary school. If you went to elementary school, you will know what Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are.
If I had a list of all the stuff I was supposed to have learned 30 years ago, plus all the stuff I did learn and forgot, I'd have a pretty long list.

I don't remember what games we played with the parachute in gym class either. Considering that at best the "history of numerals and our counting system" is likely to have been a brief comment/footnote in a history/social studies curriculum in grade school, and possibly a similarly brief call-out box or paragraph in a world history class in high school, and considering that this bit of historical trivia has likely no reason to be recalled after that one Wednesday afternoon freshman year, of course lots of people don't know what they are. If it was ever learned, it was quickly forgotten.

99.9% of the English-speaking world just calls them "numbers" on a regular basis. "Arabic numerals" is a term people pull out at pub trivia.

In fact, the answer to this poll shows 100% that you are wrong. I'm sure all the respondents to this poll went through elementary school, and 56% percent of them (at least) clearly did not know that Arabic numerals means "normal numbers". So your statement: "If you went to elementary school, you will know what Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are." is clearly untrue.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:38 AM
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I don't remember what games we played with the parachute in gym class either.
The students would hold the perimeter of the parachute, and wave it up and down in unison. One student would try to run under it before it came down. Also, a red rubber ball (the ones you bounced and caught in rhythm with the 'Bounce, and bounce, and bounce, and catch!' music) would be put on the parachute, and kids would move it around.

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So your statement: "If you went to elementary school, you will know what Arabic numerals and Roman numerals are." is clearly untrue.
I should have said 'should know'.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:43 AM
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II, complex calculations (such as multiplication and division) can be extremely cumbersome.
III, they don't handle fractions or decimal numbers well.
IV, the numeral one can be easily mistaken for the English-language first person singular personal pronoun.
V...
V, Hi Opal!

VI,

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:51 AM
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Now your assumptions/prejudices are showing.

Do you really think that everyone with a "modicum of education" would answer the context-free question: "tell me about Arabic numerals" would say "oh, those are just the numbers we use every day!" ? My guess would be that most Americans, have no idea what Arabic numerals are. Do you really think that every person who doesn't know off-hand what Arabic numerals are is an idiot?
A perfect "strawman argument". You came up with the "idiot" conclusion, assigned it to me, and then became indignant with me about it. What I did say is that someone who does NOT understand the term, "Arabic numerals", should ask for clarification before attempting to answer the question. The fact is that, as soon as they heard the work "Arabic", their minds were made up with no clarification needed or desired.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:59 AM
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The students would hold the perimeter of the parachute, and wave it up and down in unison. One student would try to run under it before it came down. Also, a red rubber ball (the ones you bounced and caught in rhythm with the 'Bounce, and bounce, and bounce, and catch!' music) would be put on the parachute, and kids would move it around.
Heh. Now I remember the first one . . . I don't think we did the one with the ball, though maybe I just don't remember.

Quote:
I should have said 'should know'.
Well, I think that's an interesting question for a different thread; to what degree an adult "should" be responsible as an adult for educational trivia learned in grade school. I'd argue that, no, they "shouldn't" be expected to know it now, because, well, there's a lot of stuff to know in the world, and this is one wildly unimportant piece of Jeopardy trivia.

But there's an argument being made in this thread that the poll linked to in the OP shows that most Americans are bigots/prejudiced because they do know that Arabic numerals are just "plain numbers" but that because they're bigots they want those numbers out of the schools, or something.

If a respondent doesn't know what an "Arabic numeral" is, I don't see how you can reasonably assume that their "no" response on a "yes/no/other" poll about putting them into the curriculum is a clear indication that they are bigots, as opposed to being a clear indication that they assume that "Arabic numerals" are part of an optional foreign language curriculum.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:08 AM
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A good "control question" would have been "Do you believe that Mayan numerals should be taught in math class?". Mayan numbers are a real thing, and they do have real pedagogical value (if not necessarily direct practical value) in discussing place-value number systems with different bases. But of course, a person who knew what they are could reasonably disagree that they should be taught, on the merits. Thus, the question about Mayan numerals should have a greater proportion of "no" answers than the one about Arabic numerals.

That said, while there are multiple possible reasons why someone would answer "no" to the Arabic numerals question, and not all of them are due to bigotry, none of them are good. If you never learned or can't remember what Arabic numerals are, then you should have either asked for clarification, or answered "I don't know". And even then, that probably indicates some problems in our educational system.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:11 AM
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You can debate the racism aspect all day, but what this poll also shows is that people will answer polls without understanding the question. It doesn't matter whether they are answering no for bigoted reasons or not, they're answering a question they obviously don't understand.

If some pollster asked the SD, "Do you believe President trump is correct in his response to the Wakanda-Bangalla situation?", and 56% said "no", what do you think that shows?

If people are unsure what "Arabic numerals" are, they should ask, not just spew forth with responses revealing their ignorance, or bigotry, as the case may be. If a similar poll shows 90% are in favor of banning the dangerous substance dihydrogen monoxide, it's the same thing. Why can't people ask for clarification? No one is forcing them to be stupid, or ignorant. Ask a question., Read a book!

HA! Cronos said basically the same thing whilst I was typing.

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Old 05-15-2019, 10:15 AM
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If some pollster asked the SD, "Do you believe President trump is correct in his response to the Wakanda-Bangalla situation?", and 56% said "no", what do you think that shows?
Dopers would find out about Wakanada-Bangalla before answering.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:35 AM
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If people are unsure what "Arabic numerals" are, they should ask, not just spew forth with responses revealing their ignorance, or bigotry, as the case may be. If a similar poll shows 90% are in favor of banning the dangerous substance dihydrogen monoxide, it's the same thing. Why can't people ask for clarification? No one is forcing them to be stupid, or ignorant. Ask a question., Read a book!
Ask whom? Any time in the last 15 years or so I've been polled it's been pre-recorded questions played on a system that only gave you a limited time to answer before deciding you weren't interested and hanging up. Even back in the day when it was a real person polling, asking a clarifying question would result in your answer being recorded as "Don't know" or "Don't care", as the pollster was required to word the question exactly as written without embellishment.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:16 AM
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A perfect "strawman argument". You came up with the "idiot" conclusion, assigned it to me, and then became indignant with me about it. What I did say is that someone who does NOT understand the term, "Arabic numerals", should ask for clarification before attempting to answer the question. The fact is that, as soon as they heard the work "Arabic", their minds were made up with no clarification needed or desired.
It's not a strawman. You said "anyone with a modicum of education should be able to understand [that Arabic numerals are "normal numbers"]. . . "

I admit to adding the word idiot, but your connotation is clearly that only those with no education whatsoever could conceivably both not know what Arabic numerals are, and also know that the obvious answer, that they are a foreign language number system, is incorrect so they better look it up in order to correct their assumption which they have no reason to assume is incorrect, in order to answer what is likely an automated phone survey that they're doing on their lunch break.

Your idea that "as soon as they heard the work "Arabic", their minds were made up with no clarification needed or desired," is, like, your opinion. And is not borne out by anything in the poll, and is based purely on your desire to believe that 56-71% of Americans hate Arabs.


Again, I'm not taking a position one way or another on the prevalence of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment in America, only that this poll doesn't show it. It shows that 71% of Americans don't know what Arabic numerals are.

Anyone who knows what Arabic numerals are votes "Yes". Anyone who doesn't know, or thinks it's something other than what it is votes "No" or "No opinion".

There's also a weird bit of the arguments here that seem to imply that in the idyllic, less Trumpian past more people would have answered "Yes", not because more Americans knew what Arabic numerals were, but because their relative lack of Anti-Arab sentiment would have lead them to pull out a World Book Encyclopedia and look up "Arabic numerals", even if they already thought they knew what they were.


Everybody in this thread talking about what people "should" know and what they "should" do when answering polls as far as taking time to research . . . I'm wondering what planet you're on. Do you imagine there is there a question and answer period in polling? Do you believe a poll-taker has an option to pause and do research on a polling question and get back to the pollster later?
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:50 AM
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Do you really think that every person who doesn't know off-hand what Arabic numerals are is an idiot?
Seems very probable, but more to the point, every such person is spectacularly uninformed. I would worry about them having the right to vote. They might elect someone just like themselves.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:23 PM
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Everybody in this thread talking about what people "should" know and what they "should" do when answering polls as far as taking time to research . . . I'm wondering what planet you're on. Do you imagine there is there a question and answer period in polling? Do you believe a poll-taker has an option to pause and do research on a polling question and get back to the pollster later?
Particularly in the case of this poll, which is setup as a gotcha. They're not going to tell anyone what "Arabic numbers" are when the entire point of the poll is to show how many people don't know what "Arabic numbers" are.

The poll results almost certainly include a fair amount of racism, but I suspect the main bias influencing the results is around education policy. There's broad agreement that the American education system is broken, but pretty sharp disagreement on how to fix it. At the risk of being reductive, liberals tend to see the problems with education and think, "Traditional pedagogical models are failing, we need to try something innovative," and conservatives then to the problem as, "We keep introducing all these new education approaches which make things worse, when what we really need is to get back to teaching the basics." I suspect a significant portion of the Republicans polled who said "No" were reacting more from that bias, then from a specifically anti-Arab, or even a broader anti-multiculturalism, bias.

The idea that the people who voted "no" or "not sure" are particularly stupid for not knowing what "Arabic numbers" are is absurd. The fact that we got our numbering system from the Arabs is trivia. It's something you learn in the fifth grade, and then almost certainly never use again. It really doesn't say anything about a person's intellect if they didn't retain that - and this particular result is especially meaningless, as the poll was designed to deliberately obfuscate the question being asked by phrasing it as a policy debate. If you'd asked me, "What culture did we get our numbers from," I'd probably have gotten it right. If you asked me the question from this poll, I can pretty easily see myself whiffing because I'm trying to consider the issue as a current debate, and not a historical footnote.

The only reasonable criticism to draw from this is that more people should say, "I don't know" when they're asked a question about a subject they don't know, instead of answering based on assumptions they're making based on how the question is asked. But that's hard for me to get especially worked up over.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:30 PM
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The only reasonable criticism to draw from this is that more people should say, "I don't know" when they're asked a question about a subject they don't know, instead of answering based on assumptions they're making based on how the question is asked. But that's hard for me to get especially worked up over.
That, or the pollsters found a number of assholes who mess with polls on the Internet, possibly by voting multiple times.

Incomprehensible and inconceivable, I know. Utterly beyond the ken of mortal pollster. Possibly even beyond the barbie of same.
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