# PoSWW 2: Take a Hike

This Proof of Stupidity Without Words comes courtesy of a smart Year 11 VCE student. It’s an exercise in the Jacaranda text Maths Quest 11 Mathematical Methods (2019). (Just to clarify, the stupidity obviously contains plenty of words; it’s the proof of stupidity that requires no words.)

## 9 Replies to “PoSWW 2: Take a Hike”

1. John says:

An obvious problem is defining the coordinates as distances and then having a negative x-coordinate ….

I also would have thought you’d want the person who lands his/her coin *closest to* (not furthest from) the tree to be the winner (why didn’t one of the friends simply drop their coin at their feet. Or in fact, throw their coin *away* from the tree …?)

And I assume that Anna and Liam (the names introduced towards the end of the question) are the two friends we meet at the start of the question …?

But the biggest problem is why have such a ludicrous context for such a simple “Find the distance of point A from the origin” question (how have the coordinates even been calculated)? This is a rhetorical question – we all know the answer, even Yr 11 students.

By the way, neither Anna or Liam carry the rucksack because, while they were busy measuring coordinates of coins and figuring out distances from trees, a thief came along and stole their rucksack.

1. Number 8 says:

Do we assume Cartesian coordinates and Euclidean distance?

Which is a lie. I don’t have any at the moment.

2. marty says:

That’s hilarious! Of course the main point is the interminable and idiotic framing for a trivial distance problem. But i hadn’t noticed that the winner is the person to have their coin end up farthest from the tree, making the game ludicrous. And yes, it’s amusing that “Anna” and “Liam” are introduced to us well into the story.

There is (at least) one more ridiculous detail in the set up. But I’ll leave that for people to hunt.

1. Don says:

Apart from all the obvious details of the skinny tree and the distances/displacements to the nearest millimetre, I fail to see the point about dropping the coin at one’s feet, or throwing it far away from the tree. The one whose coin lands farthest from the tree has to carry the heavy rucksack. Neither wants to carry that rucksack, and hence neither will want to throw the coin away from the tree. They certainly won’t be dropping the coin at their feet.

1. marty says:

Yes, you’re right. My goof. They did at least get that aspect correct: to avoid carrying the rucksack, you want to have your coin close to the tree.

1. John Friend says:

My goof too.

But now I’m angry – so angry – with the question. It clearly has no respect for bushwalkers:

1) Neither of the protagonists should even be thinking about going bushwalking if a heavy rucksack is such an ordeal.

2) Clearly chivalry is dead ….

3) Our protagonists (millennials?) are stereotyped as lazy.

4) Seriously?? – The rucksack only has food and first-aid items and yet is soooo heavy that the thought of carrying it is completely undesirable. Implying that our protagonists are too ill-conditioned to go bushwalking and are going to waste my hard-earned tax dollar when they need rescuing (and clearly they will need rescuing).

Even the names of our protagonists upset me, now that I revisit the question – an anagram of ‘A nail man’. So hidden chauvinistic messages as well.

I was satisfied in thinking that that the question was defective on many levels of stupidity, but now I’m just angry. Stupidity is one thing, but there are clearly whole new subliminal depths that the question has sunk to – it’s insulting, demeaning, chauvinistic ….

It was much easier to think that the coin toss was just another stupid mistake. Now we’re faced with the grim reality of the whole social engineering agenda of the textbook ….

It’s all so clear now – all these dumb-ass ridiculous stupid real life contexts are actually ingenious pieces of social engineering designed to manipulate and re-shape how young people think. And VCAA is at the vanguard ….

2. John says:

Could it be that unless the tree trunk is assumed to have a negligible radius, the coin may well be landing *inside* the tree (after all, the given unit for the ‘distances’ is cm) …?

1. John says:

Oh …. the position of the coin is also accurate to the nearest *millimeter* (which in part assumes, at least locally, a *completely* flat surface. Implied by Number 8).

2. marty says:

Yep, it was the astonishingly skinny tree I had in mind. Hadn’t thought of the coins to the nearest millimetre, which is also dumb of course. And Number 8’s observation about the flat Earth is spot on.