The New Math for Narcissists

One person is always defined as "greater than" or "lesser than" another.

Posted Apr 19, 2019

Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

There are no true equations in your new mathematics, only statements of “strict inequality” as we call them, governed by the symbols > (“greater than”) and < (“lesser than”). You define each of your personal relationships and interactions in terms of these two symbols, with you always on the wider side. Your every waking moment is devoted to the mirror propositions that you > everyone else and everyone else < you. Each statement you make to your avid students in the lecture hall insists upon the validity of these two propositions.

Should variables such as x or y enter into the picture, you have no interest in “solving” for them, as in the typical algebraic proof. You care only to reinforce the statement of strict inequality, relying upon subtraction and division to further diminish the “lesser than” side; or alternatively, upon addition and multiplication to augment your own. In short, you make use of these mathematical operations to increase your relative size vis-à-vis everyone else. The ultimate value of x or y makes no difference, as long as the statement demonstrates that your size is superior.

Should + x suddenly appear on the “lesser than” side, for example, you will instantly subtract or negate it. That is, you will insist that Person 1 has no valuable assets not present on your side of the strict inequality statement. Or you will minimize x, using division to make it appear smaller and smaller. Once again—you have no interest in that variable’s true value, only in making Person 1 appear to be < you.

Your non-stop pre-emptive strategy relies upon the operations of addition and multiplication, neutralizing a potential value increase on the opposing side of the strict inequality symbol by augmenting your own. With the spontaneous insertion of new quantities or the magnification of old ones by large factors, you increase your own size relative to everyone else. While all statements of strict inequality will of course place you on the wider side, the greater the disparity the better.

Should another mathematician challenge the validity of your propositions, or if they attempt to reverse them, your first response is to repeat your own version without regard to any new proofs on offer. Experience has taught you that endless repetition of a false mathematical statement will convince your students of its truth. Should this operation fail, you will seek to diminish the mathematician who has proffered this new statement. Ad hominem attacks have no place in mathematics, but you've never respected this rule. 

And with good reason. Such attacks work—that is, your students continue to endorse your original statements of strict inequality as if you’d actually disproven the challenge by legitimate means.

At this point, we must state the obvious: You are no true mathematician because you care nothing for the use of numbers and defined operations to describe reality, the ultimate aim of mathematics. Your failure to advance beyond strict inequality statements and simple arithmetic is further evidence. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and so forth can take us only so far, even when correctly employed. To grasp the full complexity of what is, we need more sophisticated operations. Of algebra, much less calculus, you know nothing. 

Perhaps the most alarming result of your academic success—and what else can we call it but success, given your overcrowded lecture halls?—is the diminishment of traditional mathematics. Millions of people now subscribe to your statements of strict inequality and have no use for the = (“equal sign”). You’ve convinced them that the operations of higher math are not only useless but invalid. When it comes to mathematics, everything a person needs to know can now be taught by you

Whether Algebra I and more advanced courses will disappear from our high school curricula remains to be seen. Perhaps university departments specializing in mathematics and even physics will eventually vanish, to be replaced as in the Middle Ages by courses devoted to the propagation of dogma. Even if one believes in the march of progress, the success of your new math has taught us that progress can always be reversed, at least temporarily.

Grounds for hope: with its focus on demonstrating superiority right now, your new math can’t encompass or account for time beyond the immediate week or month at most—and that is its greatest weakness. One can’t possibly destroy every archive and computer hard drive by edict.  Someday, long after you’re dead, future mathematicians will re-visit those statements of strict inequality and marvel that anyone could have believed in your new math. With the superiority of hindsight, they’ll look back upon our era as another Dark Age. 

And perhaps then, higher math will have a Renaissance.