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Math: Weeding out the Crazies

August 11, 2009

I was listening to one of the “birther” conspiracy theorists on the radio yesterday, because yelling at the radio makes the freeway miles fly by. The guest gave a whole shpiel about how all he wants is the birth certificate (WHICH HAS TOTALLY BEEN PROVIDED, could it be that you are just crazy and also possibly racist?), and then asked everyone listening to send an e-mail to everyone in their address book with a link to his website. And I quote, “If we could reach between 10 and 75 million people, we could get some serious national attention. So if everyone sends it out to ten people, you know, ten to the hundredth power…”

Ten to the hundredth power? IS A GOOGOL. It’s a one followed by one hundred zeroes. There is nothing in the world that can be counted by a googol – not grains of sand on the beach, not drops of water in the ocean. Nothing. And certainly then, NOT PEOPLE BEING SPAMMED BY THEIR FRIENDS TO GO TO YOUR CRAZY WEBSITE.

I wonder how much Google AdSense would pay him if he actually had a googol visitors. Probably a lot, because they could tie it into their name! What a great publicity stunt!

Lesson for the day: If people already suspect that you are a nutcase, your poor number sense will serve as confirmation of their hypotheses.

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