I am not a big fan of geometry.
Of all of the math courses I suffered through in school, and there were a lot, bisecting circles and triangles was my least favorite.
For some reason which I still can’t understand, I took a lot of math, including a desperation class in college I needed to graduate entitled Three Dimensional Matrix Calculus. Matrix calculus has something to do with retribution for missing the enrollment deadline for the English for Engineers class that I was supposed to take instead.
I even picked up some number theory from Count von Count on Sesame Street not all that long ago. I just adore four, the number for me. You can’t abhor four, it's less than five more than three. This is the perfect blend of esthetics and infallible truth that numbers are supposed to provide.
Although personally I prefer the number 13. It is a little more mysterious than four, even if it doesn’t do as well in songs.
Don’t get me wrong. I also adore circles and triangles and squares and even the occasional rhombus or two. There is something intrinsically beautiful about these shapes. And they inform our perceptions of reality in deeply mystical ways. Circles are perfect for a reason.
But the study of geometry is not about esthetics. Geometry is about proof. Exacting, cold, non-refutable proof. Proof that ultimately warrants a letter grade and acceptability into Algebra II so that we can get back to real numbers and learn to find x.
I blame this all on the Greek mathematician, Euclid, who was not content appreciating deep in his psyche that a triangle with three equal sides has three equal angles and they all add up to 180 degrees. He had to prove it.
And somehow he did. Q.E.D.
Q.E.D. is latin. I learned it in geometry because I was bad at languages. It is an abbreviation for Quod Erat Demonstrandum, which loosely translated means Believe it or Not. It is put at the end of a mathematical proof to prove you have proved something.
I am perfectly happy internalizing basic principles without having to prove they are true. They just seem inherently right to me, and fit the natural order of the world as I see it everyday. I don’t have to verify my brain by restating the Pythagorean Theorem to the Wizard of Oz. Which, by the way, I cannot do.
I accept many things without any real proof at all. Or at least any proof that I understand. When Einstein brazenly states that time slows down when traveling really, really fast, I believe it. Not because I understand it, but because his theory of relativity also predicted the atom bomb.
Sometimes proof is in the pudding.
And I trust that Einstein, and all of the learned scientists before and after, know how to prove things because they passed geometry and then some.
But this faith sans proof bubble burst quite literally when I was introduced to non-Euclidean geometry and learned that triangles and parallel lines drawn on the surface of a balloon don’t behave well once it is blown up. In this ugly curved world straight lines bend and angles add up to more than 180 degrees. It is an alternate reality that is difficult to accept.
This is why I appreciate well constructed conspiracy theories. They provide an alternate reality that could be true and is difficult to absolutely prove false. If they reinforce some intrinsic belief, they are necessarily true.
Since I can’t absolutely prove to myself that the world is round without relying on centuries of accepted science, I can contemplate the possibility when I look out my window that the world is flat. Because it sure looks flat to me. And besides, if the world was round, wouldn’t the parallel longitude lines at the equator meet up at the poles breaking the laws of basic Euclidean geometry that I proved in high school?
And if I can’t understand the proof, why should I believe it just because it says QED at the bottom?
This is very liberating for me, because I can with clear conscience accept the very real possibility that aliens are being held by the military in Area 51. Or that Paul McCartney is dead. Or that the Illuminati are controlling the new world order from a bunker beneath the Denver airport.
Not because I believe any of this is true, but because it is so intriguing trying on alternate realities that I don’t have to prove.
The deep state is methodically encouraging the spread of coronavirus imported from China so that it can manipulate both the 2020 census and the presidential election by controlling the US Postal Service.
Oh, wait. This conspiracy could actually be true.