If you find yourself wondering things like:
- Why a small but annoying (and thankfully shrinking) segment of Americans refuse to get vaccinated for all of their stupid reasons
- Why anyone would suddenly question the spherical nature of the Earth
- How seemingly reasonable people can spend so much time crushing digital facsimiles of candy on their phone
- Why anyone would continue to be a New York Jets fan
… remember this:
In the 1980s, A&W sought to compete with McDonald’s famed Quarter Pounder by releasing their own 1/3 Pound Burger for the same price.
The plan seemed unbeatable:
More meat. More burger. Bigger size. How could they lose?
However, the burger failed to sell.
Americans didn’t understand that 1/3 of a pound was more than 1/4 of a pound. Focus groups conducted after the botched launch reported the same thing again and again:
4 is bigger than 3. Therefore 1/4 must be larger than 1/3.
I think this explains a lot.
I’m not saying that a significant percentage of the American population is stupid, But I suspect that a significant percentage of the American population disengages with serious academic study, rigorous learning, and deep thinking post high school or college.
They stop reading. They stop asking questions. They stop being curious.
I believe that there was a time in most American’s lives when they understood that 1/4 is smaller than 1/3.
For a fleeting moment, they understood this basic mathematical fact.
But if you decide that math or science or history or political science don’t matter anymore, or even worse, you decide the exciting, fantasy land of conspiracy theories and the mindless consumption of propaganda are more entertaining than asking yourself questions like “Does a black hole consist of matter?” or “Does condensation happen in the desert?” or “Is there an infinite number of decimals between every whole number?” (all questions Charlie has asked me this week), then the difference between 1/3 and 1/4 might just fall right out of your head.
Replaced by the benefits of discredited therapeutics, YouTube videos about faked Moon landings, and attempted insurrections at the Capitol.
This is one reason why A&W (which still exists) announced last week they they’ll be relaunching the famed 1/3 Pound Burger, but instead will be billing it as the 3/9 lb. Burger.
The 3/9 lb. Burger. For Americans who have given up on understanding basic fractional comparisons in favor of arguments about why climate change isn’t real and how 9/11 was a false flag operation.