Eric Bolling vs. Scholastic – Both Wrong about the Distributive Property!

Scholastic Publishing has been accused of pushing the liberal agenda by Eric Bolling on the Fox News network. The problem with Eric Boling’s rant isn’t that he’s wrong, but that he uses the wrong argument.

The analogy of “distributing the wealth” was clearly meant to explain the situation. But there are two problems here:

  1. Scholastic’s analogy fails
  2. Eric Bolling doesn’t know that the analogy fails

Scholastic should be on the hook here, but less for indoctrination and more for obscuring mathematics!

What IS the distributive property?

The distributive property allows us to “distribute” a scaling number. For example, my cookie recipe calls for

  • 1 pound butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups flour

This means my cookies will be made from this addition:

1 pound butter + 1 1/2 cups sugar + 4 1/2 cups flour

Suppose I need to triple this recipe, I have to triple everything. That’s what the distributed property does – it allows you to scale it.

3 x (1 pound butter + 1 1/2 cups sugar + 4 1/2 cups flour)

3 x 1 pound butter + 3 x 1 1/2 cups sugar + 3 x 4 1/2 cups flour

You’re not distributing anything real, but you’re distributing the scale!

How would this look for money?

You don’t distribute money, because money is something real. (Remember you can only distribute the scale.)

If money were to be involved in an example it could look like this (liberal indoctrination included for entertainment value):

Every year Karen, the rich girl, donates $500 to the Salvation Army, $250 to her local food bank, and $1200 to her church.

$500 + $250 + $1200

This year she got a big fat raise, because the rich get richer, and she wants to triple all her donations. So this looks like:

3 x ($500 + $250 + $1200)

3 x $500 + 3 x $250 + 3 x $1200

Scholastic attempts an analogy – and fails.

The image and title of the scholastic worksheet implies that money can be distributed in the manipulation of algebra. This is not just misleading, but completely wrong.

And since the subheading is “understanding the distributive property,” it’s also offensive.

Bad Analogy by Scholastic about the distributive property

Eric Bolling was making the wrong point.

Eric Bolling’s argument should have been:

“The distributive property distributes the scale, it can’t distribute money. Therefore either scholastic developers don’t know what they’re doing, or they are specifically inserting liberal indoctrination.”

I sincerely believe that the developers of scholastic use the “distribute the wealth” as an attempt of an analogy. Unfortunately the analogy fails mathematically and it also frustrates the politically conservative.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I purchased this worksheet from Scholastic for the purposes of commenting here.

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2 Responses to Eric Bolling vs. Scholastic – Both Wrong about the Distributive Property!

  1. Very good point. I’m so used to just making sure that math works that I didn’t consider what the actual heading implied. Both Politically, and Conceptually.

    Lastly, looking at the definition, even that seems weird if technically correct. What does multiplying by two numbers have to do with distribution? Not only should it have been worded in the other direction, I don’t understand anything more about the distributive property, and it is implying that there is something special about 2.

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