Durham’s maths problem

16 April 2022

9:00 AM

16 April 2022

9:00 AM

More exciting news arrives from Britain’s dimmest university, Durham, which is embarking on a programme to ‘decolonise’ mathematics. About time. For too long the subject has been dominated by racist stuff like adding things up or multiplying etc. Hopefully soon there will be room for students, when faced with a question such as ‘what is four plus four?’ to eschew the didacticism of white supremacy by answering ‘eight’ and suggest instead a number which they think feels intuitively right, such as 7,231. (Or indeed any number: it is not for me, as a privileged white straight male, to suggest to people who have been the victims of structural racism an alternative answer to the question ‘what is four plus four?’ They are perfectly able to do that themselves.)

We are not quite at that stage yet, mind. The current decolonising programme simply demands of staff that they start referencing a few of those really famous and eminent black mathematicians when giving examples, because: ‘The question of whether we have allowed western mathematicians to dominate in our discipline is no less relevant than whether we have allowed western authors to dominate the field of literature.’

No indeed. Staff, then, are being encouraged (if not forced) to find brilliant mathematicians from beyond the West. Looking through Google’s inventory of the most important mathematicians, there are plenty of Chinese scholars to shove in the list, plus some Arabs, Indians and the occasional Egyptian – although they are probably taught pretty widely already. But no Sub-Saharan Africans or Australian aborigines or Tuvans, and very few Hispanics. Perhaps the lecturers will be able to find a way around these new and stupid, virtue-cringing strictures by including the Greeks under the heading ‘black’. I hope my friend and colleague Taki will not object to my contention that Greeks are sort of black, or at least a kind of stepping stone between the putrid whiteness of western Europe and the vibrancy and dignity of true blackness. If so, that would allow the academics recourse to Pythagoras, with his famously dull theorem, as well as Archimedes and the father of geometry, Euclid.

The guide to this new frontier also suggests that instead of using stock examples to illustrate mathematical concepts, they should alight upon issues which identify structural racism at the hearts of our various malevolent societies, such as the mathematical explanation for why Maoris are underrepresented in juries in New Zealand. Everything, then, geared towards promoting an idiotic agenda – even in the supposedly pristine haven of maths. But then, for these halfwits, nothing is neutral. In fact, to be neutral is to be complicit: silence is violence, as you may remember the august Black Lives Matter organisation telling us two years ago.

(Durham University – not coincidentally – was the institution which got itself into a terrible lather after I spoke there in December. A few students walked out of my address and the university authorities persecuted the founding principal of its South College, the man who had invited me to speak, Professor Tim Luckhurst. They then convened a kangaroo court to bring charges against Luckhurst and refused to publish the findings, all the while telling the media that they were steadfast in their commitment to the freedom of speech. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Durham is run by deeply confused and intellectually challenged individuals.)

I wish the Durham mathematicians good luck with their new programme, but it has to be said that the university is lagging behind a little in the hectic rush towards De-Enlightenment. The American liberals are showing the way, as ever. In California, they are trying to do away with maths for six million students, replacing the subject with something called ‘data science’. The problem is that maths is riven with structural racism because – these racists think – it is too difficult for black kids. Only 1 per cent of mathematicians in America come from an African-American heritage, you see. The guidelines are quite clear about this: ‘Mathematics identities are shaped in part by a culture of societal and institutionalised racism.’ There you go, then. Henceforth teachers will be told that they need to confront their own racial biases when teaching stuff which has numbers in it but definitely isn’t maths, and maybe flagellate themselves before their victimised students. This new data science business means the students will not be learning any algebra, nor getting even the vaguest of introductions to calculus. Everything has been dumbed down so that the brightest kids (usually the Asians, by the way) don’t get a chance to excel.

Better still, the guidelines also propose ridding ‘data science’ of all notions of objectivity and – crucially – the notion of there ever being a ‘correct’ answer to a given problem. That is a terribly old-hat concept, wholly discredited these days. Teachers, according to the fabulously idiotic manual, who uphold ‘the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict’ and are still engaging in ‘white supremacy culture’.Objectivity, therefore, has somehow ended up as a handmaiden of bigotry and racism (although it is never really explained quite how this happened), much as rationality and common sense and truth are dismissed airily by the liberals and replaced with that ectoplasmic thing, ‘lived experiences’. There is no truth, there is no right answer, there is no objectivity any more.

The problem, as some maths professors have pointed out, is that when these kids leave their schools and become, say, engineers, they will very quickly discover – when the bridge they are building collapses into the river – that objectivity and correct measurements do have a certain allure and can be helpful from time to time.

It is central to the liberal delusion to deny facts, whether it be in gender politics, racial politics or even in mathematics. And so the American liberal colleges shepherd us all towards the De-Enlightement, with Durham University gambolling behind, wagging its stupid tail.

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