Imagine if someone at a dinner party casually announced, “I’m illiterate.” It would never happen, of course; the shame would be too great. But it’s not unusual to hear a successful adult say, “I can’t do math.” - DB, NYTimes
Which clearly raises the question: Why is it socially acceptable to say that you're bad at math but not socially acceptable to say you're bad at reading? - JW, Psych Today
Why is it acceptable in this country to say, "I'm bad at math"? Do you know many people who would admit to being semi-literate? - Change the Equation
Math anxiety... People don't brag that they can't read, but readily distance themselves from math ability "oh, I don't do math!" #PERC2013Look, if you can't read then you can't make it through school at any level, you can't read the warning label on your meds and you'll need someone to literally hold your hand and direct you through the supermarket. You can't drive, or really navigate yourself through the streets using anything but memory and intuition. You can't send a text; you can't read an email.
— Brian Utter (@QuantumTweep) July 18, 2013
People don't brag about being unable to read because (1) being unable to read would be literally debilitating to a person's everyday life in a thousand obvious ways and (2) pretty much everyone who needs to be is literate, for exactly that reason.
You will hear folks saying "I don't read for fun" or "I haven't read a novel in, like, woah" and now you've got on your hands something that is far closer to what you hear people say about math.
But the very fact that doctors, lawyers, journalists, politicians, and many, many others make light of the fact that they don't know math is all the evidence you need that you actually don't need to know math to be a successful adult in America.
And, look, I hope that we have a fun time in the comments to this post, but I'm flagging one argument right now as suspicious: "WTF michael, you need to be able to count and do addition/subtraction to get by." Yeah, of course. Is that what people are talking about when they say "Oh jeeze, I'm bad at math. Always have been." Or are they talking about, say, fractions?
Anyway, that was fun to write. I should pick fights more often. See you in the comments.