Most Americans don't want Arabic numerals taught in U.S. schools

CEO of Civic Science John Dick referred to the study as "the saddest and funniest testament to American bigotry we've ever seen in our data," in a Tweet.

By
May 21, 2019 16:17
3 minute read.
Definition of Arabic numerals from Wikipedia

Definition of Arabic numerals from Wikipedia. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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56% of Americans do not want Arabic numerals taught in US schools, according to a study conducted by Civic Science.

CEO of Civic Science John Dick referred to the study as "the saddest and funniest testament to American bigotry we've ever seen in our data," in a Tweet.
 
Respondents to the survey were also asked about their political identification. 72% of Republican respondents replied that Arabic numerals should not be taught in US schools. In comparison, 34% of Democrat respondents and 57% of Independent respondents replied the same. 11% of Republicans, 26% of Democrats and 12% of Independents responded that they had no opinion.
 

 
A parallel study also conducted by Civic Science asked respondents whether schools in America should teach the "creation theory of Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre as part of their science curriculum." 


Lemaitre is credited as developing the theory of an expanding universe, a theory now popularly known as the Big Bang theory. He also derived what is now known as Hubble's law.
 

 
Respondents to this survey were also asked about their political identification. 73% of Democrat respondents replied that Lemaitre's "creation theory" should not be taught in US schools. In comparison, 33% of Republican respondents and 52% of Independent respondents replied the same. 38% of Republicans, 19% of Democrats and 33% of Independents responded that they had no opinion.


Dick also used this survey to illustrate that "neither side has a monopoly on blind prejudice," he stated in a Tweet. "Either that or 73% of Democrats believe schools shouldn't be teaching students about the Big Bang Theory."



In response to a Tweet claiming that not knowing Lemaitre developed the Big Bang theory was not as serious as not knowing what Arabic numerals are, CEO of Civic Science John Dick explained the purpose of the studies. 


"Our goal in this experiment was to tease out prejudice among those who didn't understand the question," Dick tweeted. "Most people don't know the origins of our numerical system and yet picked a tribal answer anyway. You can argue that one is worse than the other, but both prove a similar point."

 


The US is not the only country that has taken issue with Arabic numerals. Otfried Best, a member of the far-right German National Democratic (NPD) party who was running for mayor of Volklingen, also took issues with the numbering system, according to the Politico Europe Edition.


When asked by a member of Die Partei, a satirical party how he would "take action" against the "creeping foreigner infiltration" of Arabic numerals, Best responded, amid a laughing crowd, that they should just "wait until I a mayor. I will change that. Then there will be normal numbers."


The Arabic or Hindu-Arabic numeral system is the most common numeral system and is used almost everywhere, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. It was introduced to Europe in about the 12th century. 


A seemingly satirical site called "Freedom Numerals" advocated using Roman numerals (I, II, etc.), Mayan numerals (a system using visual representation) or Chinese counting sticks in place of Arabic numerals.

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