Pearls of Wisdom

June 15, 2014 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

Although most educators are unaware that the following quotation was coined by Anna Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, almost all of them have heard it before.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.

It originally appeared in Mrs. Dymond as, “If you give a man a fish, he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish, you do him a good turn.”

A modification of this quotation is similarly poignant and more colorful.

Build a man a fire, warm him for a day.
Set a man on fire, warm him for the rest of his life.

There are more direct modifications of the phrase:

  • Teach a man to fish, and you can sell him a ton of accessories.
  • Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day.
    Teach a man to fish, and he’ll drink beer all day.
  • Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
    Don’t teach a man to fish, feed yourself.
    He’s a grown man. Fishing’s not that hard, dude.

There are other motivational quotations that I’ve heard throughout my life. One inspired the following image:

Removed BonesA similar pontification has been making its way around the Internet recently, but it gives me pause.

Population Around the Equator

The math of this declaration is highly troubling. Assuming each of the 7 billion people on Earth stood side-by-side and held hands with two other humans, and each of them occupied approximately two feet of width, their entire length would be 2.7 million miles. That’s more than 100 times the distance around the Earth at the equator.

Using that same estimate — two feet of width per person — it would only take about 65 million people to circle the Earth at the equator. So a better version of this joke might be:

If everyone from California and Texas held hands around the equator, a significant portion of them would drown.

The problem with this modification is obvious. There are those who believe that sacrificing all Californians would be justified if it means being rid of all Texans; and there are those who believe that sacrificing all Texans would be justified if it means being rid of all Californians.

I’ll continue to work on a better modification, but I’d love to hear some suggestions from you.

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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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