Wednesday, April 27, 2005

True or False: Only Americans are bad in math

We always read about how the US is behind in math and science. We have even coined 'math anxiety' as a term and a semi-acceptable student condition! Thus, when I travel to other countries, I expect to be impressed by the amazing math skills!

When I was in Thailand, I used the hotel's computer for a few minutes to send a couple of emails. I used the PC from 2:56 to 3:13 (of course, I just made up these numbers but it will illustrate the same point). The hotel charged per minute. At the end, the lady at the reception took a calculator and entered 313 - 256, looked up 57 on her chart, and told me to pay so many Bahts. I was stunned. I explained that her math assumed that there are 100 minutes in an hour. After a few minutes, we counted the minutes together with our fingers and I convinced her that it was only 17. But she still didn't understand why the calculator gave an incorrect result. She even showed me that it worked for 3:13 - 3:02. Other people working at the hotel were trying to help. Some did the math in their head and said '17' but nobody else could explain the flaw in using the calculator. I was a little worried that they'll make the same mistake with our hotel bill since we were staying there across a month boundry (i.e. 10/27 - 11/3). But luckily they didn't subtract the two dates to count how many nights we stayed there.

We might not be the best in math in the world, but given the fast pace of life and love for sports, tv, video games, etc we can all substract time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

it happens to me as well, hotels are trying all the time to still money to the visitors..

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes i agree, it s not about math

9:24 AM  

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