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#015 99% of People Will Get This Wrong

Posted by TetonTrekker on April 15, 2018 in Internet, Morning Coffee |

Solve if you are a genius.
Most will get this wrong.

All of these are phrases are meant to get you to engage, and it made you click on my blog. Normally I don’t engage with memes like this one, I am too busy to argue with strangers, plus some genius used a U instead of YOU on a hand printed note [cringe emoji]. In this case my cousin shared it and I love arguing with my family, we are all geniuses and the topic never goes in a direct line, this time changing the topic to computer programing then a recipe blog, but that’s another story.

These silly math problems, with no connect to a real life situation, combined with one or more of those catchy phrases, are designed to get people to argue in the comments. Some memes have all the same numbers and others have pictures instead of numbers, this one throws in the negatives to make it even more confusing. The more people argue about the answer, the more clicks are received by the original person who posted it. And since we all like to think we are a genius and within the 1% of the smartest people, many will argue to the bitter end.

What else happens? We talk about math. I will admit, the first time I saw one of these memes I had completely forgot about order of operation. Why is that? I think because most of us do math based on circumstance, we know where we need the put the parentheses without giving it thought. Remembering the order of operation when solving a simple math formula such as this one, is is something most people forget. To some of us “order of operations” means “I need to get my gallbladder removed before I have that knee operation”. We haven’t needed to think about math problems this way it since high school (or college) algebra.



Life is a word problem.

Order of Operation: Parenthesis or brackets, exponents, multiply or divide, addition or subtraction.

When looking at the meme we are expected to remember the order of operation or PEMDAS. But, if you think of it as a trip to your local home and garden store it should make more sense. We do problems like this one in our head weekly and probably don’t even think of it as a word problem or especially algebra.

Imagine if you will, it’s and ordinary spring weekend, just like every other spring weekend. It is warm and the sun is shining, a nice day to plant some vegetables. You go to your local home and garden store and purchase five 1lb bags of garden soil for five dollars each. As you are walking out the door you notice they have 5lb bags of the same soil on sale also for five dollars each. That is a much better deal! So, you grab a 5lb bag and walk back in with your purchase to go have a discussion with customer service person “Bad Belinda“.

You show Bad Belinda the large bag ($5) and the cart of small bags that you want to return (5 x $5) and tell her you want an exchange. Bad Belinda rings up the new purchase then the credit and asks if there is anything else she can do for you. The large bag is such a great deal you tell your you’ll take another five pound bag ($5). She rings up the additional purchase. How much money is due, and due to who? In this case (real life) you know where the parentheses go without thinking about order of operation, you probably don’t even think of this as a word problem. It’s your money.

The meme:  5 – 5 x 5 + 5  = ?
Order of operation:  5 – (5 x 5) + 5  = ?
 5 – 25 + 5  = ?
-25 +10  = ?
Your receipt:
Garden Soil – 5lb bag  1 @ $5.00     $ 5.00
Garden Soil – 1lb bag -5 @ $5.00  – $25.00
Garden Soil – 5lb bag  1 @ $5.00     $ 5.00
Total Due:  = ?

The answer to all of the above is -15, Bad Belinda owes you $15 bucks.

Who remembers the class clown who announced he would never need algebra when he grows up? (Usually a percussion player.) I bet he’s smacking himself on the forehead.

Side note: If you are too young to know what “ring up” means, you are young enough to remember the order of operations.

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