A Tangible Math Lesson – Four Types of Institutional Lies

Ethan Indigo Smith | ZenGardner.com

Despite the constraints of our educational systems, there are some excellent teachers. And there are some not so excellent instructors. We learn a lot in school, but it is also important to learn outside of school as well. Some of the most valuable lessons are not found in the teacher’s answer book, and yet some teachers operate by the book, at right angles, making no adjustments for the humanity of their students.

Not surprising given that the school system itself is geared toward creating two things: employment and expectation.


Like most people who are interested in history I dreaded math and algebra, and may actually have found my interest in history out of my disdain and fear of division and multiplication.

I remember the first time I learned how to add. I thought I had tackled the math thing then and there. I also remember the first time I was frozen in front of the class, unable to do long division on the chalkboard. And yet the mathematical lesson I have used the most since its revelation to me, and the one I remember most distinctly, turned out to be more than just a mathematical lesson.

A Tangible Math Lesson

An elder grew up in a country where government lies and propaganda were commonplace.

One day, when I was a child, he was grilling a friend and I on our multiplication tables. After a while he paused and said,

“Let me think of a hard one – alright, what is eight times seven?”


My friend and I deliberated and answered “fifty-six”.

“Wrong. Think again.”

Well we checked and double checked our arithmetic.

“Fifty-six.”

“No.”

“It’s fifty-six, I think.”

“You’re wrong, it’s fifty-eight.”

“I think it’s fifty-six.”

“Wrong it’s fifty-eight.”

We held our guns, but because he was the authority figure, finally capitulated to his insistence that he held the correct answer.

“Ok fifty-eight.”

After we gave in, he explained the lesson.

Never submit to the half-truths, distortions and lies of authorities, particularly when you already know the answer.

*(Today one would have to remove all electronic devices with a calculator to teach this lesson.)

Idiots and Elitists

The reality is, authorities are bound to distribute lies and half-truths in support of their own ends and agenda.

This lesson is huge part of George Orwell’s novels 1984 and Animal Farm. The removal and replacement of whole segments of language by those in control is a key part of the dystopian backdrop of 1984. Over time, the state dictionary shrinks, while events are changed or removed altogether from “history”. In Animal Farm, the agreed social rules of the farm, posted in public for all to see, are progressively altered in both word and in spirit by an emerging power faction, who argue linguistic technicality while insisting that everything is unchanged and enforcing the altered “rules” to their own ends.

Orwell’s works were an eerily accurate exploration of the inherent potential for corruption in our heavily institutionalized society. The real world is full of similar such occurrences. Elitists often censor, suppress and obscure the truth, while information is removed, falsely discredited, even replaced or entirely conjured. Meanwhile, euphemisms are inserted into the wider vocabulary to steer not only people’s perceptions and decision making, but the very subjects they will reasonably consider.

“Idiots don’t question relevance and act on ignorance. Zealots question limitedly, in accordance to preconceptions. Elitists question in order to advance power and do not share information. Patriots question and share information openly.” ~ from The Matrix of Four.

In accordance with the Matrix of Four, there are four types of lie, all of them involving some nugget of truth. For the sake of this discussion, let’s look to the nuclear experimentation industry for examples.

  • The first type of lie is the addition of information. Sometimes the addition of a small bit of information can change the story entirely. For example: yes the ailing Fukushima reactor is still spewing radioactive pollution… but did you know, according to nuclear industry supporters, low level exposure to radiation is actually good for you?
  • The second type of lie is the subtraction of information. The removal of small key components can result in entirely different meaning. For example: with the nuclear site in Miami operating dangerous above standard ‘safety’ limits, the regulator temporarily increased the limit, averting an “emergency” by subtraction.
  • The third type of lie is multiplication of information. Exaggerations of situations connected with the story as well as exaggerations of extraneous information are included in the presentation to dilute it.
  • The fourth type of lie is division of information. The facts are interlaced with disconnects and the significance of information is separated or underplayed. To exemplify the third and fourth types: nuclear industry advocates claim nuclear energy to be ‘clean’ and ‘safe’. To support this belief (not fact), they exaggerate the relevance of nuclear’s low carbon emissions in comparison to other energy systems while ignoring or downplaying the permanent environmental destruction their nuclear waste causes and discrediting the science that clearly proves radiation exposure = cancer and death.

The problem for the ‘powers that were’ is, we each have a mind that can compute math tricks as well as self-serving political gimmicks – both of which are constants in today’s institutional operations.

Sure, this mixed up mathematics, irregular logic, circular reasoning and ill rhetoric is sometimes just due to a lack of information, combined with an unreasonable unwillingness to admit one doesn’t know everything. But given how extensive and common such twisted representations are in modern politics, one can only assume that, more often than not, we are witnessing a web of implicit agendas running counter to the assumed program of community governance. And we all know it.

So what is still sustaining a system we know is failing? Fear and hate.

Fear, Hate and Truth

Hate is the ultimate control mechanism. It prevents us from seeing the brotherhood in humanity. It enables institutions to promote (very profitable) war and killing. It creates closed-mindedness and closes the heart to spiritual healing. In is endemic to a war mentality, where both sides rationalize violent acts in the name of peace, liberty and freedom, all the while hating the evil “others” who are invariably demonized or dehumanized by the intentional rhetoric of war.

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