The Mathematical Ninja and the Supposedly Funny Cat

The Mathematical Ninja didn't bother with a warning. The Mathematical Ninja didn't even do that impressive whirry thing he does with a sword in each hand. No. The Mathematical Ninja conjured up a pistol and pulled the trigger - BANG! It was a blank, of course, but the student wasn't to know that.

"And that," said the Mathematical Ninja, "is just ONE of the reasons we don't share posts like this."

"W-w-w-what are the" - sniff - "others?" snivelled the student.

"I thought you'd never ask."

It marks you as intellectually lazy, and proud of it

"I have no objection to laziness," said the Mathematical Ninja. "In fact, laziness is one of a mathematician's most useful weapons; we go to great extremes to avoid doing any work. But that's smart laziness - finding shortcuts, looking for efficiencies, cutting drudgery. This image is saying 'I can't be bothered to read words plainly stated in English. I can't be bothered to pull information out of a block of text. I can't be bothered to think critically about the problem in front of me. Instead, I'm going to denigrate it and pretend it's not important.'"

It spreads the message that maths isn't important

"You wouldn't spread a message saying that good grammar was unimportant, would you? Or that personal hygiene was too much effort. Or anything else that would give the kids hanging around on Facebook a way to say 'grown-ups I like don't respect these areas, therefore it must be ok for me not to respect them.'

"You know how teachers are being squeezed from all sides by parents, administrators and politicians, for not doing enough to get kids through tests? It's not the teachers' fault. It's the fault of people like you who propagate bullshit like this. Clear?"

"Uh... clear."

It's been going around the internet since the internet was invented (by someone who was awesome at maths)

"Do you know how bloody hard it is, tracking down everyone who's ever shared this image, and scaring the pants off them like this? How wearing? It's like the sodding hydra. And blanks don't come cheap, you know. You'd never catch Tim Berners-Lee sharing this."

"Must be terrible."

And, seriously? Cat pictures? Didn't we grow out of those in, like, 2007?

"Grow up," said the Mathematical Ninja. "And stop snivelling."


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.


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I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

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