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Mirthful Math

Updated on January 4, 2013

Welcome to Mirthful Math

This light-hearted lens is devoted to mirthful musings about mathematics.

If truth be told, when I was growing up, arithmetic was completely alien to me (which is probably why I never figured out how to count my chickens before they hatched).

In a world where "size matters", especially when it comes to the size of one's bank account, the size of the elephant sitting in the living room that everyone is ignoring, or the size of the horrid monster hiding under one's bed, math comes in handy.

So without further ado, let's take a wee peek at the amusing side of arithmetic and algebra.


Image Credit: Math book cover illustration by Bill

Making Sense of Statistics - Okay, what percentage of the population has a people personality?

"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness.

Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you."


Image Credit: Kenny Durkin illustration -

Quote Credit: Rita Mae Brown

"Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions."


Evan Esar

Remember What Einstein Said: - "Many of the things you can count, don't count. Many of the things you can't count, really count."

Of course he's also the fellow who said:

"If 'A' is success in life, then 'A' equals 'x' plus 'y' plus 'z'.

Work is 'x'; 'y' is play; and 'z' is keeping your mouth shut."

If 4 out of 5 people suffer from diarrhea, does that mean one enjoys it?

-- Stephen Wright --

IN A FRACTALLY-DEMENTED UNIVERSE - It isn't surprising that ...

"On the other hand, USA Today has come out with a new survey - apparently, three out of every four people make up 75% of the population."

-- David Letterman, American comedian and late night TV talk show host

Mirthful musings on the importance of mathematics in the grand scheme of things

Law of Best Laid Plans: The best laid plans of mice and men are usually about equal.

Law of Arbitrary Distinction: Anything and everything may be divided into as many parts as you please.

Law of Relativity: How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on.

Fundamental Theorem: New systems generate new problems which is why systems should not be unecessarily multiplied.

Law of Oddities: In a three-storey building served by one elevator, nine times out of ten the elevator car will be on a floor where you are not.

Law of Universal Generalizations: If it says "one size fits all" it doesn't fit anyone.

Law of Exaggeration: There is nothing so small that it can't be blown out of all proportion.

Law of Product Promises: All product delivery promises must be multiplied by a factor of 2.0.


Image Credit: math symbols -

Content: selected quotes from Arthur Bloch's "The Complete Murphy's Law, A Definitive Collection", Price Stern Sloan, Los Angeles, California, 1991.

"In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra."

Fran Lebowitz

If figuring out all those numbers leaves you confused, you're definitely not alone!


Image Credit: Vimrod cartoon by Ralph Lazar and Lisa Swerling,


On the importance of random numbers and really important statistics:

"The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79."


Douglas Adams, "Mostly Harmless", William Heinemann Ltd., London, England, 1992, p. 7

Little Tommy wants to know if mermaid mathematicians wear algaebras?

"Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."


Image Credit: Mathematical Mermaid -

Quote Credit: Bertrand Russell

"A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that's substraction."


-- Mae West 1892-1980: Joseph Weintraub, "Peel Me a Grape" (1975) --

Top 10 Math Major Pick-Up Lines

10. You fascinate me more than the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and that's saying a lot!

9. Since distance equals velocity times time, let's let velocity or time approach infinity, because I want to exploit the multidimensional nature of the universe with you.

8. I've been awed by your continuous curves and conical projections, perhaps it's time we intersected?

7. Statistically speaking, we could make a mean pair of lovers.

6. I'm impressed with the magnitude of your perpendicular lines, so why don't we examine some horizontal and parallel options.

5. You and I would add up better than a Riemann sum.

4. Your body has the nicest arc length I've ever seen.

3. I wish I was your derivative because then I would be tangent to your curves.

2. I hope you know, I have a passion for posterior distribution.

1. Would you like to see my log?


Image Credit: math cartoon -

Creative Content:

Something You Can Count On! - Clockwatchers and Number Crunchers will appreciation this one!

"There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else." - -- James Grover Thurber (1894 – 1961) American author and cartoonist.



Image Credit:

Math Class Lies

Every top dog knows that when it comes to finagling and finance, it's all a numbers game.

"The creator of the universe works in mysterious ways. But he uses a base ten counting system and likes round numbers."


Image Credit and Quote: Scott Adams, creator of "Dilbert" comic strip

Cowpokes can count...but if you know what's best for you ...

"Never ask a man the size of his spread."


Gladiola Montana - "A Cowgirl's Guide to Life"

There is something alien if not amusing about arithmetic...


Image Credit: alien_math_266885.jpg

One scientist discovers the missing link between physiology and mathematics...


Image Credit: Vimrod cartoon by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar at

"Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up."


-- James Magary --

Trust a kid to come up with a crass answer!


Image Credit: Charles Schulz Peanuts cartoon strip

The Birthday Math Test for Grown-Ups


Image Credit: Math cartoon -

Math Made Easy Bookstore

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks
Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks

First graders or first-rate mathematicians will love this little gem!

Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities
Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

If you love puzzles, games and oddities...this amusing book is right up your alley!

Mathematickle: Giggle, Grin, Grunt and Groan
Mathematickle: Giggle, Grin, Grunt and Groan

A great introduction to the mirthful side of math that will tickle people pink of any age.

The Cartoon Guide to Statistics
The Cartoon Guide to Statistics

An easy, painless and pleasurable introduction to the wonderful world of statistics.

New Math: Equations for Living
New Math: Equations for Living

Okay, so you flunked first grade paint by numbers, but here's your chance to graduate to the next level of ludicrous living -- don't worry be happy, or if you're angry, have you ever stopped to think whether you're ticked off to the second or third power, or just to the nth degree?



Excerpt from "New Math Equations for Living"

Painting By Numbers Poll


Image Credit: Chud Tsankov

Did you ever take the urge to paint by numbers?

See results

"Ten milligrams equals one centigram. Ten decigrams equals one gram. Ten grams equals one grampa."

"Keep going... I can hardly wait to see what comes next..."


Charles M. Schulz (The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972)

Santa has been checking his list twice to find out whose been naughty and nice. - Truth is that Santa flunked his math exam and now uses his fingers to add and


Image Credit: Santa list -


Melissa & Doug Cheerleader Puppet with Detachable Wooden Rod (Puppets & Puppet Theaters, Animated Gestures, Inspires Creativity, 15" H x 5" W x 6.5" L)
Melissa & Doug Cheerleader Puppet with Detachable Wooden Rod (Puppets & Puppet Theaters, Animated Gestures, Inspires Creativity, 15" H x 5" W x 6.5" L)

Mahitabel hates math which is why she counts on her fingers. She's also a humorous hand-puppet who can't keep her mouth shut. And, she's your best friend when when numbers are getting you down and you need to lighten up!


What do you get when you divide the diameter of a jack-o-lantern by it's circumference?

-- Pumpkin Pi --

Feedback from the frontlines of painting by numbers... - So, just how well do you get along with numbers?

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      8 years ago

      I sucked at math most of my life, so this was a hoot for me.


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