Subject: Verizon Math Fail Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:34 am

Idiots. We're surrounded by idiots.

The guy's blog is here: http://verizonmath.blogspot.com/

Original full-length recording is here: http://imgs.xkcd.com/verizon_billing.mp3

At then end, when she says, "It's obviously a difference of opinion." ...there you have it. People don't recognize the principle that "What you say is supposed to mean something." In this case (Verizon math), "cents" means "dollars". It's just a difference of opinion.

OMFG!

Maybe we're not really all the same species. That could explain it. Maybe the people who think it's only a matter of opinion whether $1 = 1˘ are really the mutants, and they'll breed themselves out of existence.

Alas, it seems more likely that they're multiplying.

Age : 46 Location : Olympia, WA Registration date : 2007-12-09

Subject: Re: Verizon Math Fail Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:35 pm

Man do I understand his frustration!!! I ended up dropping Verizon after 8 years because of a series of phone calls involving two separate issues. The first issue took me 6 calls and I was still unable to resolve the other took me 14 calls and that was resolved thankfully. It was still enough to make me switch.

I can't believe how calm he was on that.

_________________ Jason

"Freedom, Security, Convenience: Choose Two" "For me, I will take freedom over security and I will take security over convenience." ~ Dan Geer

Subject: Re: Verizon Math Fail Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:24 pm

jhuggett wrote:

...I can't believe how calm he was on that.

Right...and the video is the edited version. In the full-length version, it's even worse. I'd have had a very hard time keeping cool. I'm definitely not wired to accommodate that degree of stupidity.

I don't think it's actually a math problem. I mean, it shows up as a math problem, but it's really a thinking problem. The boneheads at Verizon are skipping a step (converting cents to dollars), and they don't realize it. They're attaching the wrong units to the answer.

As it turned out, the real rate is .002 dollars per kB. They're billing it correctly, but they're not selling it correctly. They repeatedly quote "point zero zero two cents per kilobyte", which would mean they should bill at $.00002/kB.

The problem is that they never learned dimensional analysis. I got it in science, not in math. In the real world, numbers are usually measurements of something, and you have to say what the something is:

"How far is it to Xanadu?" "Twelve." "Twelve? Twelve what? Miles? Kilometers? Cubits? Leagues? Angstroms?" "Just twelve. It doesn't matter. It's just opinion anyway." "Grrrrr..."

That's the problem with using calculators. They don't have units. They just crunch numbers, and if you don't know what the numbers represent, you're boned. If they had written it down on paper and kept the units intact, they'd have seen their mistake:

.002 cents/kB x 35893 kB = .002 x 35893 (cents/kb x kb) = 71.786 cents

There aren't any dollars involved anywhere in the calculation, so there can't be any dollars involved in the final answer. My physics profs used to require us to carry the units all the way through the calculation, because it's a check on your final answer. If you're looking for dollars in the answer, you have to convert to dollars somewhere along the way.

Age : 35 Location : Edmonton, Alberta Registration date : 2008-10-13

Subject: Re: Verizon Math Fail Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:39 pm

Vito,

the real problem is that they don't make kids do math problems anymore without calculators. I believe i was in the last generation that never used calculators until grade 12 and then they FORCED me to buy a Texas Instruments 83 calculator.

I would have loved to invest in TI stock when they landed all of N.American schools contracts for forced graphic calculators. At $84 dollars a pop you would need a very large calculator to compute that profit margin!

Subject: Re: Verizon Math Fail Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:02 pm

SmokeyTweed wrote:

Vito,

the real problem is that they don't make kids do math problems anymore without calculators...

SmokeyTweed:

Exactly my point, amigo. A calculator is not a substitute for actual comprehension.

I have no objection to calculators, but they should only be used for number crunching. They don't actually SOLVE math problems. The solutions result from thinking—from actually understanding what the terms and numbers in the problems mean and how they're related to each other. It seems to me that that's the part kids aren't learning.

Subject: Re: Verizon Math Fail Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:34 pm

A couple generations ago, Issac Asimov wrote a short story titled, "A Feeling of Power" that used the rediscovery of mathematics as its plot. How in the far future humans had utterly forgotten any and all mathematical concepts---computers ran the world's infrastructure seamlessly without interference---until a minor technician realized if you assigned symbols to quantities and experimented sufficiently, rules and patterns emerged that exactly matched the output of The Computers. (gasp!)

There was a twist at the end I won't divulge in case someone wants to read it, but the historical significance lies more in the marketing of the story at the time: Even though Asimov was a respected writer, magazine editors didn't want to buy it because they thought Man forgetting mathematics was too preposterous an idea, even for science fiction.

I have a math degree, and made it to my senior year without purchasing one. THen I took Linear Algebra which was a requirement for the class because it handled matrices.

I tried to barter with the professor, explaining I was pretty good at this math stuff, but to no avail, to be in the class I needed a TI-85.

Public education is what made TI-85, most math oriented people prefer Casio or HP (the prior for me, due to their capacity to handle fractions). Similarly, the US government made Beretta a popular firearm; I've never owned one that works.

Using dimensional analysis on this problem is akin to nuking a mosquito. It'll get the job done, but there's a simpler solution. Working with decimal places is, IIRC, a fourth or fifth grade requirement. Not only that, but converting from cents (the word itself means hundredth) to dollars and back is a daily occurrence. Any adult who can't grasp the concept that cents=/= dollars is, essentially, subliterate. I say this as a guy who is anything but good at math.

...converting from cents...to dollars and back is a daily occurrence. Any adult who can't grasp the concept...is, essentially, subliterate...

Number 6:

That's true enough, but it doesn't address the more fundamental problem, which in this particular instance was the fact that the subliteroids in question didn't even recognize the need to convert between cents and dollars. Dimensional analysis is precisely the right tool for the job because it reveals that error in thinking...er, that is, it reveals it to someone with the ability to understand it. Apparently, that ability was not part of the Verizon job description.

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Subject: Re: Verizon Math Fail Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:20 am