back to article Camelot pulls scratchcard amid numerical anarchy

Camelot has withdrawn its short-lived "Cool Cash" scratchcard after it required a higher than absolute zero grasp of how numbers work to understand it. According to the Manchester Evening News, to qualify for a prize, punters had to "scratch away a window to reveal a temperature lower than the figure displayed on each card". …

COMMENTS

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  1. Senor Beavis
    Boffin

    I'm with Camelot on this one

    Of course, why should a complete ignorance of basic maths impede one's ability to win on a numerical scratchcard?

  2. David Webb
    Paris Hilton

    Yay math

    "I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher, not lower, than -8, but I'm not having it."

    Goodness this girl is thick, maybe someone should have explained it in math she would understand.

    If you borrow £6 off your mum till your giro arrives, and your sister borrows £8 to feed their 15 sprogs till their giro arrives, who owes the most to your mum?

    Bloomin chavs these days.

    Wonder if Paris Hilton can do math?

  3. Ste Mansfield
    Thumb Up

    So proud of my home town

    I may be getting confused with the confusion. Camelot say you have to find a lower number than say -8. And the woman thinks that -6 is a lower number, even a lower temperature. Is she thick? -10 surely would be the lower number. Surely Camelot should have told her to stuff it.

  4. kevin king

    slogan

    Scratch Cards - Tax on the Stupid

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ban them all

    OMG!!!!

    People who do not have a basic grasp of mathematics should not be allowed money of there own, and they certainly shouldn't be allowed to purchase anything that requires them spending it and, shock, horror, incur the possibility of having to subtract £1 from the £5 they have used to purchase said scratch card.

    I really fear for our future....

  6. Jon Press

    Presumably...

    ... anyone with a basic grasp of maths is not going to throw his money away on a scratchcard in the first place...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Getting ready for the Darwin awards!

    -6 is higher then -8?

    She wouldn't be related to Jade Goody then?

  8. Rob
    Paris Hilton

    flabergasted

    I am quite frankly shocked that someone would get confused over this, maybe we could use it as a marker for compulsory sterilisation?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Wouldn't it be better...

    ...for the sake of 'the good causes' to educate those 'dozens' about the basic English number system, rather than withdraw the card?

    I'd be interested to know how many numerically capable people bought the scratch card for the sake of context.

  10. Nick Palmer
    Paris Hilton

    *Shakes head in disbelief*

    "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won...- the card doesn't say to look for a colder or warmer temperature, it says to look for a higher or lower number."

    "The Manchester Evening News concludes: "More than 15 million adults in Britain have poor numeracy - the equivalent of a G or below at GCSE maths." "

    Judging by Tina-the-Muppet, literacy skills aren't looking too hot either. That said, WTPHA? WTITA?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Whatever is the world coming to?

    Tina Farrel said, "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7", and later, "the card doesn't say to look for a colder or warmer temperature"

    So, which is it Tima? Did it say you had to find lower temperatures, or did it not? You contradict yourself.

    She also said, "it says to look for a higher or lower number. Six is a lower number than 8. Imagine how many people have been misled."

    But, the numbers were -8 and -6, not 8 and 6, -6 is definitely a higher number than -8, so even on the "numbers not temperatures" idea, you're wrong.

    Camelot are in the right here - it's our schools who should be ashamed of themselves.

  12. Mike Knowles
    Thumb Down

    Dumbing down

    Dumbing down to the lowest common denominator again I see. I despair!

  13. Cameron Colley

    Uninformed comment follows:

    OK, so I've not seen one of these scratch cards but, going by what the young lady interviewed said, she has a point. If the card says to look for a lower number, then 6 is lower than 8.

    There are even situations where people who "do have GCSE" mathematics may consider numbers absolute -- for instance, surely a line at -110V is at a higher voltage (albeit negative) than one at -10V? Then again, I've forgotten most of my education, so that may not be the case.

    Now I'm confused.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    ha ha ha!

    This made me laugh out loud.

    "6 is lower than 8"

    Yes it is, but these numbers are -6 and -8. There is a big difference.

    They are also, supposedly, temperatures. Perhaps she might have a case if they haven't specified which temperature scale each number uses.

  15. H2Nick

    education education education

    That policy has obviously worked a treat then...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Bet credit card companies are so happy.....

    What dumb asses.

    So this explains the UK massive debt.

    Imagine this dozy cow.

    Wahoo, my balance in my bank is £-10,000, I doing so well, last month I only had £-8,000. I'm of to buy some shoes with the extra money I have....

  17. Kev Beeley
    Thumb Up

    I'm feeling generous

    Since she feels swindled by Camelot, I'd be quite happy to offer her the choice of a -£5,000 or -£10,000 prize to compensate for her loss.

  18. Dave

    You have to be F*** kidding me!

    This is ludicrous!

    Number 1: If your maths isn't that good and you got embarrassed in the shop by being proved wrong - keep it quiet! Don't go to the press and get your name splashed about as its obviously you are completely thick

    Number 2: Leave this card in play i say! This will show up the idiots who should be sent back to school!

  19. Whitter
    Coat

    A side-peave

    A pet peave: it's not the "lowest common denominator". When people say that, they almost always mean "the lowest value", unless they are in a maths class at the time.

  20. Steve
    Stop

    @cameron

    "surely a line at -110V is at a higher voltage (albeit negative) than one at -10V?"

    No. In order to be + or - there must be a reference of zero, and relative to that reference -110V is a lower voltage than -10V.

    Whether either of them is a *more dangerous* voltage depends entirely on where you are. If you're sitting on a metal plate at -110V then touching a wire at -110V won't be a problem, but touching one at -10V (or +10V for that matter) would be most unpleasant, to say the least. High doesn't inherently mean dangerous, it just means, well, high. When I stepped out of bed this morning I realized that I was 900m up above sea level.

    Fortunately so is my house.

  21. Bez

    Uninformed is right

    "OK, so I've not seen one of these scratch cards but, going by what the young lady interviewed said, she has a point. If the card says to look for a lower number, then 6 is lower than 8."

    Umm... The whole point of the story is that the numbers 6 and 8 are completely and utterly irrelevant.

    The only point she has is the one she scored in an IQ test (miaow).

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So lottery players cannot do maths

    Where is the news?

  23. Graham Wood
    Flame

    Numeracy?

    @anonymous coward: "money of there own" is one hell of a mistake to make when complaining about other people being stoopid!

    @Cameron Colley: The numbers in question are "-8" and "-6", not "8" and "6". If I were to ask you which was higher of "92" and "87" would you say '7' since it's higher than '2'???? With respect to the voltage question - when people are asked about the "highest voltage", that's often interpretted as "furthest from ground" (not saying this is right, just that it's how it is read). If you were to ask which was the higher potential you'd get the correct mathematical number.

    It's really depressing that this is something people get wrong, and it's more of a comment on the skills that people are taking into the world as adults than anything else.

    Camelot (for once) have my sympathy.

  24. Jack Garnham
    Flame

    @Cameron Colley

    Uninformed indeed, you have completely missed the better part of the discussion here. 6 is lower than 8, correct. -6 (negative six) is higher than -8 (negative eight) though!

    On your second point, I am hardly qualified to comment but I was under the impression that a voltage must be relative. i.e. a Voltage is a measurement of difference. In your example you would be correct in saying that -110V is a higher voltage than -10V provided that the opposite terminal is 0V (or any other voltage higher than -10V). Giving a Difference or Voltage of 110V and 10V respectively. So you're correct here, although I'm not sure you're aware of it. If the opposite terminals were +100V and 0V respectively then they would both measure the same Voltage of -10V overall.

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, someone.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise

    Look, imagine an old-fasioned thermometer ... No, on second thoughts, it would be like trying to explain glacial erosion to a desert tribesman.

    I work at a secondary school, and one of our new entrants was unable, even with the aid of a real world example of buying sweets and plastic coins, unable to subtract 3 from 5.

  26. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    OMFG!

    OK, I know that I am pretty good at maths, and so I dont always realise how difficult some people find maths but SURELY people learn about negative numbers in primary school? I'm sure we did, and I'm only 26, so things cant have changed THAT much.

    If you don't know basic maths, I agree with the above comment, you should not be allowed money. Simple as. And the girl behind the counter didnt even know?! Shes dealing with money every day!!!

    This country is down the shitter. There are so many thickos who cant read, write or add up. We need to do something and SOON, or we as a country will not survive.

  27. Ian K
    Thumb Down

    Negative Feedback

    @Cameron Colley: You're right that 6 is a lower number than 8, but those aren't the numbers that are causing the problems. Those numbers are -6 and -8, and -8 /is/ lower than -6 ... the minus signs aren't just punctuation to make it look tidier, they're part of the numbers themselves, and make them distinct from 6 and 8!

    As far as voltages go, if you're dealing with DC and wanted to know if a wire was safe you might just call -110 a figuratively "high" voltage - in that case you'd be using shorthand for "high magnitude". If you were comparing one voltage to another for any functional purpose you'd definitely take sign into account when deciding if one was higher than another. If you're working with AC, which is far more likely to be the case for high voltages, you'll be comparing peak or RMS values which are always positive in any event.

  28. Mike Holden

    I live in Levenshulme

    ... and it really is like that!

    I'm not from there though, I'm from the edjumakashionally soopeerya area of Wigan.

    "The Manchester Evening News concludes: "More than 15 million adults in Britain have poor numeracy - the equivalent of a G or below at GCSE maths." "

    so, is that an F or an H?

  29. William Donelson

    And you wonder...

    And you wonder why Religion is making a comeback...

  30. thorns
    Unhappy

    so...

    ...what goes through these people's minds when they watch the weather forecast in winter? That Scotand or Russia is hotter than the UK?

    "I'm off to Scotland tomorrow, mum."

    "Ooo don't forget to take a T-shirt - they're up to -10 up there."

  31. wulff heiss
    Boffin

    ... well well

    @cameron i'd go for the "absolute voltage" line... couldn't find that in the article, though... but i see your point. bar all negative numbers. these ppl should just use Kelvin like... erm.. noone else in the world.

  32. Jet Set Willy

    @AC

    English number system?

    Don't you mean Arabic (or Indian, Hindu etc.). Definately not English though.

  33. Ash

    Phenomenal...

    Reminds me of the "Stupid People" sketch from JAM.

    People like this make my skin crawl.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    FFS!!!!!

    Will someone please these spongers from spending the money I keep giving them through my hard-earnt taxes on a device that is designed to make Camelot as much money as possible whilst luring the idiotic into a false sense of hope that they might actually be able to improve themselves if they have money.

    If a number is positive, then it is greater than a negative number, therefore:

    3 > 2 > 1 > 0 > -1 > -2 > -3 etc...

    And for those of you who failed primary school maths, the little arrow means that thenumber on the left is greater (has a higher value) than the number on right. Please also realise that a number is never "minus one" as this means "subtract one from the previous number" - it is always "negative one".

    If your IQ matches the temperatures revealed on this scratch card, kindly do the rest of humanity a favour and either improve your brain or remove yourself from the gene-pool. There's never a lifeguard around when you need one...

  35. Vince Flanagan
    Unhappy

    @Cameron

    "going by what the young lady interviewed said, she has a point. If the card says to look for a lower number, then 6 is lower than 8."

    well done 6 is lower then 8, *clap clap*

    but the card never states the numbers 6 or 8

    it states -6 and -8, totally different numbers

    god i feel like an infant school teacher

  36. Steve

    Cameron

    6 is lower than 8 yes, but -6 is not the same as 6.

    A higher negative value, that would be a lower value then if we resolve the double negatives.

    Get with the program and take the p*ss out of Tina.

  37. Neil
    Coat

    Simple solution

    Re-issue the cards using degrees Kelvin as the temperature scale.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    A Future Chancellor Perchance?

    At least the girl has prospects.

  39. joe K
    Boffin

    You sure?

    @ Cameron Colley.....

    Lol, you do realise that you suggesting that -110 V is higher than -10 V "albeit negative" is the kind of logic that gets kids failing their GCSEs. No, -10V, is, and always will be, higher than -110V. Volts are a relative unit, just like temperature in degrees, and so you can adjust the reference as you like, so comparing -110V and -10V is EXACTLY the same as comparing 0V and 120V, the latter is the higher in both cases.

    So, perhaps in Tina's defence, possibly techies too have issues with basic maths..........

  40. Christopher Boomer
    Coat

    Brucy Bonus

    You can hear it now on Play Your Scratchcards Right:

    Higher than a -8, you say? Oooooh, a -10.

  41. Simon B
    Paris Hilton

    GCSE Grade G?!!

    Has GCSE grading changed since I left in 1993???

    F was the lowest grade you could get (yes F IS lower than an A even though it's further along in the alphabet! :p ) ... if you did any worse you got a U (unclassifed) so hence F was the lowest grade you could get. Have I missed something?

  42. Shakje

    And there's a question on why people have terrible debts...

    It's obvious isn't it, if you are £8 in debt it's less than £6 in debt. It's just odd that the more money you take out of the bank and the more you put on your CC the less you owe. Great economy we have, amazing.

  43. spezzer
    Paris Hilton

    Mutually exclusive?

    hahah!! Camelot deserve everything they get - who do they think their average market is? Lets face it, the average IQ of punters heamoraging their pound coins for these worthless peices of paper isnt going to much higher than -6!!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ I really fear for our future

    "People who do not have a basic grasp of mathematics should not be allowed money of there own"

    Also, those without a basic grasp of grammar should not be allowed keyboards of their own.

  45. Steve

    Government stupidity tax is working then!

    It's lucky she doesn't live in Canada or some other such country where temperatures reach the minus thirties during winter.

  46. Rob

    @Anonymous Coward

    Steady there, or people will be commenting on the lack of gramatical training in this country too.

  47. Martin Kirk
    Happy

    Pot, kettle, darker shade of pale

    And people who do not have a basic grasp of English should not be allowed to leave there (sic) comments.

  48. Andy Hockey
    Unhappy

    Well they do say...

    That lotteries are a tax on idiots,

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seriously...

    ...is this so hard to comprehend?

    I'm maybe exceptionally capable at mathematics - I have an 'O' level, after all - but it doesn't seem like that anybody could think that -8 is "higher" than -6. I learned this stuff in primary school.

    I guess it *is* higher in terms of magnitude though, so I'd hope that Camelot did actually word the card appropriately that they suddenly have to pay out to all of those people who *shouldn't* have won...

    Just my two penn'orth...

  50. DrXym Silver badge

    I don't see the problem here

    I want more scratch cards that employ basic mathematics. Especially if it leads to more stories about morons who can't tell which number is higher than another.

  51. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Forgive me, I was educated in the seventies...

    but is a 'G' grade higher or lower than a 'Fail'?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O.O

    Oh wow...

    Possibly the thickest people on the planet?

    I bet she's got a host of illiterate spawn as well!

    I'm shocked, I really am, I knew how negative numbers worked by junior school.

    I think there should be a new law, anyone too thick to work these cards should be shot on site, it will save us alot of money in the long run.

  53. Andy
    Happy

    Tax

    Scratchcards and lotteries are really just a tax on people not educated enough to understand statistics.

  54. Christopher Rogers
    Coat

    Don't fear for the future

    These people are the strands of the population that will either die off (only the strong will prevail) or will become the underclass human as we evolve into a superior and inferior race, the superior being tall strong and intelligent where the rest become short ugly stupid and pointless, until they evolve out of existence.

    Roll on the next 4000 years.

  55. Steven Jones

    Exploiting the innumerate

    The deep joy and irony of this story is that, having made so much money out of the innumerate, Camelot don't seem to understand that basic fact about much of their customer base. We'll now have the Jehova's Witnessess putting their members up from membership of Mensa.

    Steve J

  56. Lloyd
    Coat

    that being said

    "People who do not have a basic grasp of mathematics should not be allowed money of there own"

    Surely by the same notion, people lacking basic grammatical skills such as using the word "their" as the posessive rather than the word "there" as you have should never be allowed to post comments?

    But then, I concur, gambling of any sort is a tax on the stupid.

  57. Stu
    Stop

    A wonderful new idea!!!!

    Camelot should gather all the data they can (location, age, etc) of all the fools who truely thought their dumb-ass maths could depict -6 as a lower number than -8 (and all other numerical varients of said case), then geographically display the data to the education board, showing hotspots for the most stupid!

    This way, at least the education authorities could target prime areas where retardism (see urbandictionary) is at a high and counter this with either some intelligent way of teaching 18+'s how to count below zero, or flag it to the koreans for tactical nuclear strikes =)

    Either way i live in the middle of nowhere so im safe from the horde =)

  58. Robert Long
    Boffin

    Volts

    Voltage is potential *difference* and is therefore inherently absolute, when you say "-110V", the potential difference is 110V, the minus sign is just extra information about what direction the electrons are flowing in the circut, really.

  59. A J Stiles
    Paris Hilton

    Desperate Situations call for Desperate Remedies

    I suppose next she'll be thinking that 3300 BCE was earlier than 3500 BCE?

    I really despair, I do. Can't we please just introduce "retrospective abortion" for illiterates and innumerates?

  60. Edward Rose

    @Cameron Colley

    The sign on a voltage only dictates the direction the current will flow. Other than that, it's pretty meaningless. Given the voltage is the amount of energy per unit charge then the values should be assumed as absolute when comparing for which is 'higher'.

    So -110V is, to all intents and purposes, higher than -10V. It's the same as 110V and 10V, it just pushes the current off in a different direction.

    110V and -110V have exactly the same energy per unit charge. So your analogy is slightly off point.

    Camelot should be forced to pay a heavy tax to the government. That way, the working class may get a chance of getting their money back off the scrounging class.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Uninformed comment follows: (Probably just as uninformed as the original.)

    I know exactly what you mean. Voltage is often referred to as "PD" or the Potential Difference between two points, where as the positive or negative refers to the direction in which the charge potentially travels. If you were measuring with a volt meter and reverse the connections you would get a reading on a -110V as +110V.

    So in this case, I would say that you are right. No doubt someone who is wholly a lot more verse in electrics that I am may well shoot me down in flames.

    But one thing for sure is, a -110V shock would hurt more than a -10V one.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    A nitpick

    Absolute temperatures are measured in "Kelvin", never in "degrees Kelvin".

    Any anway, how many BrassMonkeyballs or WarmPints is -6°C ?

    Warm coat on already...

  63. Svein Skogen
    Flame

    They should use cards like this

    To allow people to vote. Hopeless cases like this bimbo is why most democratic countries are falling apart.

    //Svein

  64. James Bryant
    Happy

    @ neil

    using kelvin scale is an even worse idea, you'd be asking people to compare 265 and 267 degrees they would't touch the cards for fear of getting burned.

    or even worse, to be accurate 265.15 and 267.15 degrees. you'd cause mass hysteria with regards to global warming as well.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Congratulations! You've won ...

    Congratulations! You've won a free holiday.

    Now, would you like to go somewhere that's a cool minus one degree C, or would you prefer your holiday destination to be a scorching minus forty? Remember, it's entirely your choice, but I'm sure you'd rather go to the place with the higher temperature, wouldn't you?

    One quick Darwin later and the problem is solved!

  66. Spleen

    Just to confirm

    We were definitely expected to understand negative numbers in primary school (this is mid-90s). I distinctly remember getting a sequence question which went something like 5, 4, 3, 2. I was one of the few who wrote "1, 0, -1, -2". Most of my classmates wrote "1, 0, 6, 7" or something equally awesome. That would have been around 8 or 9 years of age.

    Funny the things you remember from childhood - I wasn't particularly conceited about getting that right or anything. I think I remember it because of the complete failure of most of my friends to even understand the concept of negative numbers - even the thickest kids know what addition is even if they can't actually do it.

    So to answer the question, you do learn negative numbers in primary school, but most people are too stupid to understand them.

  67. Andy Worth

    I'm amazed......

    ....that there even needs to be any discussion, let alone a disagreement over the stupidity of Tina "IQ = shoe size" Farrel. I'm also amazed that anyone is even remotely surprised, assuming people here pay attention to the general population around them and don't spend their time locked away on a remote mountain.

    It is a serious statement about the state of edumacation in this country when things like this come to light, but lets face it, how many of us didn't already realise there are people like this all around us? About minus 8 perhaps, or maybe even higher......like minus 6?

  68. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    @ Cameron Colley

    When people talk about "high voltage" they generally refer to the RMS or absolute magnitude, as you could also ask a similar question about AC versus DC here.

    It comes down to scalar with magnitude only, (e.g. reference to "240V system") versus vector with some form of orientation in 1 or more dimensions (e.g. -110V as more negative than -11V, so lower in the conventional orientation of sign & magnitude).

  69. the Accountant
    Boffin

    I wonder

    If I can try that one with the Revenue next time. Out of 15 million innumerates, as least some must work in HMRC...

  70. Bez

    Always check your working

    "comparing -110V and -10V is EXACTLY the same as comparing 0V and 120V"

    (-10) - (-110) != 0 - 120

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Voltage analogy - back to school for you too...

    "Voltage" is more accurately called "potential difference"... It's not an absolute value.

    Back to school for you - or are you BadAnalogyGuy from slashdot?

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    -110v

    voltages when talked about as voltages in the real world, ie power lines, are relative to mother earth, so -110v is the greater voltage, higher was a bad term, but it is also the term that would be used in the field.

    OTOH, if working inside equipment, it could vary depending on what the designer wanted to use as a ref: point.

    Just another example of how the language is often wrong, but still right if looked at in the context its (mis)used in.

    As to the woman, well,

  73. Steve Anderson
    Unhappy

    @thorns

    "That Scotand or Russia is hotter than the UK?"

    Last time I checked, Scotland is part of the UK and... Christ, has it really come to this? I'm wasting my life picking holes in comments already picking holes in other comments?

    I'm off to end it all.

    And yes, Tina is thick and stupid, and her idiot offspring will be the future of this fine nation.

  74. Kevin Whitefoot
    Stop

    Greater<>higher and double negatives do not necessarily cancel.

    If you grab hold of a wire at -10V and then another at -110V I think you will be left in no doubt as to which is greater.

    And whether it is regarded as higher or lower surely depends on the context which is not the case with temperature.

    The jargon definitions of greater than and less than in mathematics and computer programming are not identical with the meaning of the same strings of symbols in conversational English (and anyway in both mathematics and computing unambiguous symbols are used not the aforementioned words).

    If one wishes to speak unambiguously about temperature then surely the words hotter and colder should be used not higher and lower nor greater than and less than.

    Double negatives have a long and honourable history as intensifiers. As far as I can tell they fell into disrepute when attacked by the same idiots who tried to forbid split infinitives.

    This whole affair reminds me of culturally dependent IQ tests.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    I don't see why they needed to pull the cards

    Think of all the muppets who would have thrown away winning tickets. They would have made a fortune...

  76. JimC Silver badge

    Which is more disturbing

    The scratch card buyer who doesn't know -8 is lower than -6 or the number of Reg readers who feel the need to post an explanation why?

  77. Tom

    A couple of thoughts...

    Maybe she didn't see the minus sign at first and then having been shamed decided to be a complete 'tard and try and dispute it? I wouldn't put it past Camelot to put a really tiny miniscule minus sign to try and confuse people.

    Negative numbers still are taught in primary school. It just happens that some people are thickos!

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Don't be pedantic...

    "Please also realise that a number is never "minus one" as this means "subtract one from the previous number" - it is always "negative one"."

    Sorry - however much you'd like to believe that there is a hard and fast rule that states that saying 'minus' only means subtract, language isn't always as prescriptive as you'd like.

    If you check a dictionary, you'll find that using the word 'minus' is perfectly acceptable to indicate a negative numerical value. (In fact it's actually called a 'minus' sign, so reading -4 aloud as 'minus 4' would be appropriate just for that reason)

  79. Igor Mozolevsky
    Coat

    RE: Uninformed comment follows

    > There are even situations where people who "do have GCSE" mathematics may

    > consider numbers absolute -- for instance, surely a line at -110V is at a higher

    > voltage (albeit negative) than one at -10V? Then again, I've forgotten most of

    > my education, so that may not be the case.

    You mean direct current, right? The sign does not indicate the "amplitude" of the voltage, it effectively indicates the direction of travel of the current -- nothing to do with maths -- it's to do with electronics, and sinks and sources of electrons...

  80. Tim J

    Camelot scam

    I've run in to this problem too. I've won a cool million with this scratchcard and now Camelot won't let me claim it due to 'numerical inconsistency' - what?!

    This is a disgrace, these Camelot lot are just trying to scam people out of their hard earned money.

    Let's start a petition and send it to Prime Number Minister Brown asking him to sit down round a round table with Camelot and sort this mess out.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Imaginary Numbers

    Maybe we are being unduly harsh and this woman is an absolute closet genius at maths, and was just musing on imaginary numbers. Camelot misunderestimated the woman.

  82. Nìall Tracey

    Hang on people....

    Look, negative numbers are a purely theoretical concept, as is zero.

    Our brains haven't evolved to cope with quantities that imply non-existance, because quite plainly we have never been exposed to stimuli that don't exist.

    Heck, when they first tried to introduce these systems in Europe they were so mind-bogglingly bizarre that it is claimed peolpe were burned at the stake for using them!

    The majority of us here see negative numbers as second nature because we've been drilled with extended cartesian geometry (I believe Descartes himself started at zero and counted up) and modulo arithmetic in polar geometry.

    In polar terms, by convention we see all angles in terms of clockwise rotation, and have to treat anti-clockwise rotation as a negative rotation. Have you ever told anyone to turn "negative right"? No, you say "left".

    Negative numbers are not natural, and while it's a sad state of affairs that schools are failing to teach the concept adequately, it's not necessarily an indicator of individual stupidity.

  83. James Bryant
    Happy

    @ac - nitpicking

    re: Absolute temperatures are measured in "Kelvin", never in "degrees Kelvin".

    i apologize for my slight slip, though never isn't accurate, degrees kelvin was dropped to kelvin in 1968.

  84. Francis Vaughan
    Pirate

    OMG

    The negative number story is a bit sad. But for readers of a technical forum the number of respondents who clearly would fail basic physics is almost as bad.

    Voltage is and always has been a relative measure. You must include the sign. Try putting the batteries into your latest toy backwards. Yes, loose use of the measure abounds, but usually in a context where the missing qualifier is implicitly understood. So in power delivery it is understood to be AC. (However if you were to be correct in a power system you would take notice of the phase, and would also understand that the relative nature of the measure remains critical - and just why the neutral is tied to ground.)

    The voltage on the anode of a CRT is thousands of volts, and is positive with respect to the cathode. But where they sit relative to the chassis ground is another matter. Either end could (in principle) turn you into a raisin.

  85. Jonny H
    Paris Hilton

    I'm constantly amazed

    by the general stupidity of people... too many people taking after the likes of Paris Hilton or worse, Jade Goody

    maybe because ignorance is bliss ?

  86. Alex McMahon

    Who has the greater speed?

    2 people start running away from each other, one travels at a velocity of 10m/s the other travels at a velocity of -20m/s. Who is travelling at the greater speed?

  87. Cameron Colley

    In reply to the above.

    I was aware, when I posted the comment, that I wasn't describing the voltage situation using the correct language, and expected to be mocked, so thanks for being lenient.

    My point, as is slightly borne out by the comments above, is that talking about higher and lower and using negative numbers can be a little confusing, in this particular case only to a complete muppet, but if you stretch the situation a little even those who are relatively educated may see some confusion (I'm sure if I had time I could say something about vectors and magnitude).

    When you're talking about gambling, it pays to be _very_ explicit, and I can't help thinking that someone at Camelot realised this would happen and that was why negative numbers were used.

  88. Daniel B.
    Boffin

    Volts and mags

    Funny how this evolved from temps and normal number scaling to electric current discussion.

    Voltage is "potential differential", and for practical purposes we usually use the absolute value, the sign indicating the polarity of such current in DC. AC is always positive. So,

    -110V == (110, -) V (say, v1)

    -10V == (10, -) V (say, v2)

    So, |v1| > |v2|

    Try touching a -10V circuit and a -110V circuit. Hint: the -110V one might earn you a Darwin Award. ;)

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel sorry for the young lass

    But then I'm assuming she must have bought loads of these scratch cards before finding a "winner". This must mean she has discarded probably hundreds of "non-winners". Mr. Holden had better get round there and do some bin scavenging. Hang on he's from Wigan, so the bloke who's writing for, and presumably reading this to, him had better do it for him.

    Oh, and all those commenting on voltage and shock are talking out of where the sun don't shine, it's the current that does the damage. You could try asking the first few people who were the guinea pigs for old smokey. Seeing as they are now minus something years old their memories might not be as good as they once were.

    And another thing, do they do still do complex numbers at O-level. I can just imagine the entire population of Lancashire trying to find the root of -1 on a calculator.

  90. Stratman
    Boffin

    Title

    If anyone is in doubt whether -110V is higher or lower than +10V then just perform a practical test involving you standing on a damp floor with the bare wires within reach.

    You will discover that the plus or minus sign merely serves to indicate the direction of your initial convulsion.

  91. Mike Richards

    Set the Daily Mail on Camelot

    Not just for promoting the sin of gambling, but also for using Metric units when good old British Fahrenheit* would have prevented the problem in the first place.

    * Just don't tell the editor that Mr. Fahrenheit was German.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Number Line

    maybe they should put a number line along the side of the card?

    You know, like we had when we were in primary school.

    Then camelot would have a ready made visual aid when explaining-to-thikos.

    In fact, maybe they should put them on all the scratch cards, owing to the average IQ of their "customers"

  93. Chris Cheale
    Alert

    Wrong!

    --------------------

    These people are the strands of the population that will either die off (only the strong will prevail) or will become the underclass human as we evolve into a superior and inferior race, the superior being tall strong and intelligent where the rest become short ugly stupid and pointless, until they evolve out of existence.

    --------------------

    Actually these are the people that breed; there is, I would guess, a higher proportion of well educated, intelligent people who do not have children than "thicky chavs". I'd also guess that the lower IQ quotient have more children at a younger age.

    This means that, like bacteria, they are passing on their genes and evolving faster than the slower breeding intelligentsia - high intelligence is an evolutionary dead-end so in the long-run, the creationists will win.

  94. Stratman

    One for the (spit) lawyers

    Is it still the case that gambling debts are non-enforceable in law?

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old news, Lester?

    I read this -5 days in to the future when it was originally posted...

  96. James Taylor

    Electrical confusion

    @Anonymous Coward: But one thing for sure is, a -110V shock would hurt more than a -10V one.

    Are we taking into account AC vs DC voltage, the frequency at which the AC voltage is, and the wattage of the current? These things aren't as absolute as they first seem!

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    re: Exploiting the innumerate (steve j)

    I guess you wont be joining mensa as its "Jehovahs" not "jehova's" you numpty

  98. Andy Worth

    For Gods Sake.....

    Stop comparing what this woman was looking at to electric voltages. The two scales are completely incomparable.

    Also negative celsius values aren't theoretical numbers for all the pedants out there, unless you consider that the celcius scale is just the Kelvin scale with the zero point in a different place. In fact, Celsius is not really a scientifically accepted scale.

    So either way - -8C = 265K and -6C = 267K so regardless of the "confusing" minus signs, the same still applies that -8C is the lower termperature. It is not Camelots fault that the woman does not understand the Celcius/Kelvin relationship.

  99. david

    what we need is a tax on stupidity...

    ...I forget we already had one - the national lottery ;)

  100. teacake

    Outrageous

    Just what are Camelot playing at putting 110V through their scratchcards? Some-one could get hurt!

  101. Tim
    Boffin

    Title

    I'm less concerned about the intellectual state of poor Tina with her grotty education than that of many of the readers of this august rag. For a bunch of techies there's quite a shocking* lack of understanding of basic physics.

    Voltage is potential difference - a measure of electric potential energy. -110V is a greater PD than -10V, thus a 'higher' potential difference too.

    Building site electrical supplies run at a total potential difference of 240V in the UK, like our domestic circuits. Power tools and so on work fine down at the site or at home. However unlike house electrics which have the live side at 240V and the neutral at 0V, they run at -110V and +110V. This is done to give Tina's brother a fighting chance when he severs one of the cables with his spade.

    *lab coat, please. And hard hat.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pedant alert ...

    Evidently, the Kelvin scale doesn't use "degrees".

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At last, a sensible suggestion.

    "I think there should be a new law, anyone too thick to work these cards should be shot on site, it will save us alot of money in the long run."

    I quite agree. Moving them off-site prior to shooting would to too expensive.

  104. Joe Harrison

    Why do Camelot make it so difficult?

    They rolled out a complex-sounding scratchcard system with an unnecessarily abstruse system of negative temperatures on which even the 1337 sages of El Reg can't entirely agree. Surely Tina only cares whether she is getting paid! What they really needed was a simple card that revealed "YOU HAVE WON" (or, more likely, "YOU HAVE NOT WON.")

  105. Whitter
    Flame

    So many GCSEs failed

    Stop comparing scalar and vector values: they are not the same.

  106. Richard Gadsden

    GCSEs

    When GCSEs were invented in 1988, they replaced the old GCE O level and the CSE. The O level was A-E and the CSE was 1-5, but a CSE 1 was equivalent to the O level C. So the new grades were

    GCSE - GCE O - CSE

    A - A - *

    B - B - *

    C - C - 1

    D - D - 2

    E - E - 3

    F - * - 4

    G - * - 5

    Apart from the addition of an A* above the A grade, they are still the same. You can Fail (U = Unclassified) on a GCSE.

    People who only remember A-F are remembering O levels, where F was Fail.

  107. Cameron Colley

    RE: re: Exploiting the innumerate (steve j)

    To go all AOLish for a second: ROFPMSL! ChairmanMAO! etc.

    http://www.watchtower.org/

    Like the toaster calling the kettle brushed Aluminium.

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Neil Barnes

    "but is a 'G' grade higher or lower than a 'Fail'?"

    Lower. It's what you get when you're dumb enough to believe that anything below a C is still a pass just because you got a grade. Ironically, the kids who get an "ungraded" are smarter than those that get a "G" because they at least knew they would fail and so didn't bother to turn up for the exam.

  109. kevin elliott
    Flame

    The Paris Hilton Angle

    Is clear - it's the ill informed posting here, denigrating a bewildered Mancunian lady, while they demonstrate their own ignorance of the matter - and then wander OT, displaying more ignorance and misconceptions.

    I've rarely seen such an incorrect volley of comment directed at a genuine and understandable mistake - and I've been around the web for a long time.

    If you don't know what you're talking about, then don't say it. Even more, don't point fingers.

  110. Duncan Greenshields
    Boffin

    Pedantic attack @ various people

    @Alex McMahon

    Your example doesn't quite work as your initial statement is that the "2 people start running away from each other". Therefore the directional element of each velocity is expected to be the exact opposite of the other.

    Suggesting that the one running moves with a negative velocity would put him on the same directional heading as the other, just with a greater magnitude. The faster runner will be running away from the slower but the two are not running away from each other.

    The speed is just the magnitude of the velocity thus 20m/s is obviously faster then 10m/s given the fixed starting frame of reference.

    @Andy Worth

    "Celsius is not really a scientifically accepted scale"

    Technically the Celsius scale is accepted as 1 degree C = 1K. The unit scientifically used for a change in temperature should be the Kelvin as it is the SI unit.

  111. Joe

    "I'm not having it."

    I love that! Rather than asking someone who might know, or trusting Camelot, she's gone to the newspaper to tell them that she doesn't accept negative numbers exist.

    Right, everyone, stop using negative numbers - Tina from Levensulme isn't having them.

    Plus, I agree with Joe Harrison - surely the best way to avoid all confusion is to have a simple "YOU HAVEN'T WON" message. ("YOU HAVEN'T WON - AGAIN" would be more honest...)

  112. John Bailey
    Happy

    It gets worse

    Not only did Tina(who may or may not be employed, and may or may not have reproduced) not understand the temperature scale, but according to the article, the shop keeper also thought she had won. If you know where this shop is.. check your change.

    So glad I was educated in Ireland.

  113. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    higher, lower

    > Wahoo, my balance in my bank is £-10,000,

    > I doing so well, last month I only had £-8,000.

    > I'm of to buy some shoes with the extra money I have....

    At £-10,000 you have a higher debt. But you have lower credit.

    So, if asked if it were a higher debt value, you would say yes.

    So, if asked if it were a lower credit value, you would say yes.

    If asked it it were a higher dimensionless number in relation to a dimensioned back account balance, you may want terms more clearly defined before answering.

    That's the position Camelot put their punters in.

  114. Dermot O'Flynn

    Title

    Suffering momentary confusion over whether a number is negative or positive is an understandable mistake.

    Claiming that Camelot are at the forefront of a global conspiracy to deprive you of your probably trivial winnings and that you are 'not having it' is, frankly, bonkers.

  115. Sliding Billy

    RE: re: Exploiting the innumerate (steve j) @ AnonCoward

    "I guess you wont be joining mensa as its "Jehovahs" not "jehova's" you numpty"

    I think you meant Jehovah's - they like apostrophes in Mensa!

  116. Brian Mankin

    @ Nìall Tracey

    Niall; you are communicating without speaking with an unknown number of people who can neither see nor hear you merely by tapping and moving objects that were neither formed by geological processes nor grown on any plant or animal. Though it is dark ouside there is ample illumination for you to see what you are doing. Though it is winter your environment is warm and not at all wet or windy. Yet you complain that negative numbers are unnatural. There is enough irony here to club a man to death!

  117. Brian Mankin
    Happy

    GCSE Grade G

    For those puzzled by the GCSE grade G - just think of it as a fail with distinction.

  118. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    my five penneth

    (inflation. pheh)

    the -110V question is wrong. The -110V terminal if it

    is CD is lower. Which way will the (positive) current flow? Toward you. If it's +110V, it will flow out of you. Current flows to the lower potential.

    If it's AC, then the -110V is still called the 110V line and occasionally becomes 0V, so the question in this case is moot.

    (note for the pendants out there: i.e you should be hung :-), electrons flow the opposite way to current but that is why they have negative charge. The voltage differences were defined before they knew what was causing the current)

    But another way to explain to the poor woman what's going on is to ask "what makes one number lower than another?" to which you could say "you can keep subtracting one from the higher number to get to the lower one". So taking away something makes it less. Lower is an aptonym (I think). So when you take one away from -8 (making it a slightly lower number) what do you get? -7? No. -9. Will you ever get to -6 this way? No. Now try it on the -6. Oh, -7, -8. So which is the lower number? -8.

  119. Mark
    Thumb Down

    -110V shock

    would do you no damage if you are standing no a chrged plate at -110V.

    The shock is due to current being passed through you. Your body doesn't care if it's coming or going. Just moving.

    Your thoughts are the exact same one that has people wondering how a thermos, which keeps liquid hot or cold knows the difference...

    Think about it.

  120. Stone Fox
    Paris Hilton

    CULL THEM BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

    I'd like to propose a cull, the compusary Euthenasia of anyone with an IQ less than 100.

    Oh damn, who'd take away our rubbish then? Or serve us our McDonalds? Or make a career out of being a famous slut?

  121. Mark
    Thumb Down

    @ Stratman et al

    forget about you with the 110V. Think about the current. Which way does current flow? From HIGHER to LOWER potential. Rather like which way does the river flow: from HIGHER elevation to LOWER.

    Which way does the current flow from you waggling about to the -110V potential? From GROUND to YOU to CIRCUIT. So is -110V higher or lower than GROUND/YOU? Lower.

    Does your body like current flowing from your hands to your feet but NOT from you feet to your hands? No. It doesn't like either. Why? Because you don't care where the current is going, your body doesn't like being a resistor.

    Now, lets say you're standing on a diode that only allows current to flow from you to the ground. Now touch the -110V potential. Anything? No. Now touch the 10V one. Oooh. Tingly. Now touch +110V. OWowowowowowow! So is 110V higher than -110V? Yes. Is 10V higher than -10V? Yes. Is 110V higher than +10V? Yes. So given these three statements, we should be able to work out the answer to the question "is -110V less than -10V". And the answer is...

    Yes.

  122. Mark
    Alert

    @Alex

    Speed is scalar and Velocity is a vector.

    Might as well ask "which is faster: red or 92?"

    If one was running -10m/s south and your tape measure only went east-west, that person would either be

    a) stationary because they have not moved any distance along your tape measure

    b) disappeared because they aren't on your starting point but also aren't on your tape measure

    PS For Stone Fox, Bagsie for the carreer as a famous slut! Woo Hooo!!!

  123. yeah, right.

    Mancunian?

    If I was from Manchester, I'd want to distance myself as far and as fast as possible from someone that thick.

    -6 > -8? That's not just a lack of GCSE math, that's a lack of year 2 arithmetic!! Did this person ever attend school at all?

  124. Chris
    Boffin

    lotteries

    Lotteries, and other forms of state-run gambling, are not simply a tax on people who are bad at math. They are also a voluntary tax. So the more people who choose to pay it, the lower my mandatory taxes should be (at least theoretically). As long as they don't bring in crime and use up extra resources, I'm all for it.

    I live in Maryland, USA. We have a long and storied history of horse racing here. The Preakness, middle jewel of the (American) Triple Crown, is run here. All the surrounding states have installed slot machines at their tracks. The state legislature wants to put them in here too, to bring back all the people who have defected to Delaware, W. Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and resuce the failing racing industry by fattening purses with slots revenue (and balance the budget, too).

    One of the tracks is about a mile from my house. I just pray the earmark some of the money to extend the Metro there so the little old blue-haired ladies can keep off my street on their way to pay their voluntary taxes.

    Of course lottery officials on this side of the pond would be smart enough to realize how stupid their clients are, and never would have instituted such a confusing scratch-off card in the first place. Over here, they look pretty much like slot machines anyway. (Match 3 or more objects and win...)

  125. Mark

    Debt

    "At £-10,000 you have a higher debt. But you have lower credit."

    So if I gave you more money, ie INCREASED your money supply, would your debt be

    a) Higher

    b) Lower

    b. isn't it.

    But what is your debt? £10,000.

    So using "higher debt" isn't edifying what "-£10,000" means, does it.

    And, since I've increased your money (your wealth is higher) yet your debt has gone down, what does that show? Debt is negative money. So REALLY what you mean is that you have -£10,000 and are in debt. So adding money (to get a higher wealth) to the tune of, say £1,000 would leave you with -£9,000 which, while STILL in debt, is a HIGHER value than -£10,000. So -9000 > -10000.

    Oh, it went and proved you wrong.

    Alternatively, if you increase your debt by -3,000 and you were in debt by 2,000, you should be on 1,000 credit. But 2,000>1,000 so how did I increase debt and get a smaller number?!?!?!!?

    Oh, that's right, I mixed up debt and credit. Silly you.

  126. Nìall Tracey

    @Brian Mankin

    I am not "complaining" that negative numbers are unnatural, merely observing.

    Negative numbers are very useful mathematically, but the brain can't recognise them instantly and instinctively.

    Teachers/parents/babysitters quickly recognise when someone's missing. Why? Pack instinct: our brains are wired to count positively.

    Processing negative numbers requires more brainpower and more time than processing positive numbers --probably longer than the "quick-thrill" speed of scratchcards.

  127. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if ignorance is bliss...

    "I'm constantly amazed

    By Jonny H

    Posted Thursday 8th November 2007 15:11 GMT

    by the general stupidity of people... too many people taking after the likes of Paris Hilton or worse, Jade Goody

    maybe because ignorance is bliss ?"

    Then why isn't the world a happier place?

  128. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Uneducated?

    Well, she's not the only one to flaunt that in public.

    "Don't go to the press and get your name splashed about as its obviously you are completely thick"

  129. John Stirling
    Pirate

    @ Mark

    Not sure if all 'mark' explanations are the same person's, but since we are all being incredibly pedantic the explanation regarding -110V and commenting on 'Stratman et al' has the logical flaw that although you can show -110V as being less than 10V according to the tingle you will also show it as being equivalent to -10V, because in both cases the diode will prevent current passing, so no tingle.

    As far as I can see it all depends upon your definitions - if you define -110V as lower than -10V then it is, if you define -110V as being higher (or greater or larger) than -10V it is. It all depends on whether you are talking about the number or the physical situation the number represents, what your frame of reference is, and of course your PRECISE definition for the terms 'lower', 'higher', 'greater', 'smaller', etc. Because we speak in English rather than a precisely constructed logically framed and defined language it gets a little woolly - hence the apparently intelligent group here getting all hot under the collar correcting one another.

    It isn't a maths question, a physics question or even an electrical engineering question - it's philosophy - and based on the comments we don't have many philosophers here. First step for a philosophical debate - define your terms of reference. Unambiguously. Exclude all other definitions. A dictionary is not sufficient.

    Clearly Tina is not educated in number theory, but she might be a great philosopher.

    The picture mark is to warn people that I'm being philosophical - many people are averse.

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Niall Tracey

    'Have you ever told anyone to turn "negative right"? No, you say "left".'

    No, I haven't, but its a good idea. I will remember to do so in future.

    Thanks for the tip

  131. Flopsy Bunny
    Unhappy

    Thicko Britain

    I read this with utter disbelief! It just shows there are still people who think they won't use what they've learnt at school in their adult lives. Shame on Camelot for withdrawing the cards - or maybe it just highlights the fact that you need to have a modicum of intelligence to realise your chances of winning on a scratchcard are slightly more than -6?

  132. john doe

    Tina Farrel from Levenshulme is a moron

    one day her grand children will read about this incident and hide in shame their relationship to her

  133. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Doh!

    I should read through comments before posting such scathing attacks. Sometimes when jumping between terminals and in and out of discussions basic grammar goes missing.

    So apologies for using there instead of their.

  134. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    purge

    thats another 15million people added onto my CULL list

  135. Mark

    @John Stirling

    Well, what matters except where current flows in electricity? If no current flows, it doesn't matter what voltage is. Nowt happens.

    Saying that you get as much zap from -110V as +110V so they are the same is to say that the himalayas are the same height as the sea because if you're facing upstream you'll drown just as well as if you faced downstream.

    So current flows from higher to lower voltage. a 6v and 1v potential will see current go from the 6v to 1v terminal. and 6 IS "higher" than 1, isn't it? So if you have 6v rail and a -12v rail, does current flow from the higher -12V terminal to the lower 6V?

    As to using how ochie it is as the definition, you can build up thousands of volts in static electricity and get a bit of a snip. Whack your fingers across the thousands of volts at a local powerstation will see you black and crispy. Same volts.

  136. Matthew
    Coat

    @Anonymous Coward

    "Wahoo, my balance in my bank is £-10,000,

    I doing so well, last month I only had £-8,000.

    I'm of [sic] to buy some shoes with the extra money I have....

    At £-10,000 you have a higher debt. But you have lower credit.

    So, if asked if it were a higher debt value, you would say yes.

    So, if asked if it were a lower credit value, you would say yes."

    Actually, I would argue that neither -£10000 or -£8000 were a credit value.

    I would accept that -£10000 was *further* from a credit value...

    (It is somewhat gratifying that the readership here is upholding those fine values of nitpicking, pedantry and grumpy-old-person-ism.

    Cue sentences starting with "In my day...")

  137. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    CAMELOT 0.005pence HMG 0.12pence

    Don't knock Camelot's profits, any money left over from any game goes to the charity fund NOT to Camelot.The same applies to unclaimed Lottery prizes

    Camelot take 1/2penny to cover everything! the Government take 12pence for doing what?

    I'm sure they'll come up with a game especially for the hard of understanding soon!!

    Twinkie

  138. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who's stupid?

    Tina's "error" reveals a lack of education (or perhaps a mind that has not succumbed to the straight-jacket that education sometimes is) - but certainly not stupidity. Maths (like language) is a system of conventions. If you're not familiar with the conventions your reasoning is not stupid (-8 being "more small" than -6 becomes ambiguous). I am a mathematician, and whilst I can see what Camelot intended I also know that the ability to think about numbers in unconventional ways is how most of the great advances in my field have been made.

    I'm not saying Tina is a mathematical genius - simply that her "quirk" is profoundly human - and a large part of the reason why there are no "computer" mathematicians, only human ones.

    The arrogance of many of the comments does not reflect well on "techies". If we didn't have people like Tina, we wouldn't have people like Albert Einstein (who was notoriously bad at arithmetic).

  139. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @Stone Fox

    Unfortunately IQ is a normalised scale with the mean centred on 100. So assuming you are of above average intelligence, as you kill off all the populace with the lower IQs, you will bring yourself closer to the mean of the IQ distribution at a redfined 100, and mark yourself for execution...

    Under your scheme pretty soon only Carol Vorderman and Stephen Hawking will be left.

    The future of the planet will be welsh and in a wheelchair.

  140. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maths lesson

    Surely they shouldn't withdraw these cards - then the people who are confused by them will learn something when they find out (to their chagrin, no doubt) that they didn't win. Much akin to shock therapy (let's face it, it works with rats...)

  141. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brain size

    Unfortunately, the size of a chav's brain at room temperature is exactly the same as the entire universe at 0deg Kelvin.

  142. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Dumpster Diving?

    Yes the story is funny and worrying at the same time.

    However all I can think about is the stupid sod that has seen this article, has been put straight and is feverishly going through their bins looking for their winning scratch card as they first thought that -10 was higher than -8.

  143. Ross Ryles
    Boffin

    More Nitpicking

    It is perfectly possible to define the absolute electric potential of a point (The energy required to bring a positive unit test charge of zero mass from infinity to the point). However it is far more common to use some local reference such as the earth and work with potential differences. It's the same with gravitational potential. On a side note gravitational potential is always negative.

    When working with potential differences, the sign tells you nothing about flow of current. The current could be flowing in either direction or even zero. Also strictly speaking a potential difference is defined between two points, whereas a current is defined through a surface. This is often glossed over by talking about the "voltage across" and the "current through" a two terminal component.

  144. Tim Lane

    Don't be so negative

    Right, I am pretty well educated and would not have made the mistake that Tina did. However, I never know whether I am turning my fridge up or down so I leave the contol somewhere in the middle.

    PS I am pretty sure that sayiong Negative 1 instead of Minus 1 is an Americanism, I was taught to say minus 1 when we learned about negativew numbers at age 8.

  145. Mark

    And yet more nitpicking

    True, but the idea was "which is higher, -110V or -10V?" There's a potential difference there, but "which is higher" is the -10V because of the direction current will flow.

    As to Tina being merely miseducated, taking the numbers AS NUMBERS will show which one is higher because by SUBTRACTING from one number, you make it less. So if you have a negative 6 and subtract one from it, it gets CLOSER to negative 8. Showing that -8 is lower than -6.

    If you're going to say that negative numbers are difficult because you never see "-6 apples" so it's a merely theoretical construct, then for such people there is no difference between -6 and -8 since you still have no apples whichever number of apples you have. So -6 is not higher than -8. So she still lost.

  146. Josh

    Wondering...

    Since the cards were winter themed and regarding temperatures, I would find this story even more ludicrous were we to find out there was a cartoon-ish thermometer complete with temperature marks (dipping below zero) printed on the cards...seems like the classic kind of cheese that gets printed on these things.

    Has anybody seen one?

  147. Sam Therapy
    Thumb Up

    @ Martin Kirk

    You beat me to it.

  148. John Jameson

    RE: education education education

    "That policy has obviously worked a treat then..."

    Well she's 23 and the current government has been in power for ten years, so she'd have been 13 and already started GCSEs by then so hardly a fair criticism.

    I wasn't aware that a G grade had been introduced, but I know that there's now an A*, so just how low do you have to score to fail it entirely? And is -8 a higher or lower mark than -6? :)

  149. Sceptical Bastard

    Top story?

    Over 160 comments? Blimey! This story has obviously touched a nerve.

    The fact that most of the people who pour money into Camelot lack any understanding of number is hardly surprising - anyone with basic numeracy skills would take one look at odds of 14,000,000 to 1 against and save themselves a quid.

    As to us IT people, we only need to count from zero to one.

  150. Lee
    Coat

    @Top story?

    There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who don't.

    /coat/door

  151. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Joe

    You are so right to say: "What they really needed was a simple card that revealed "YOU HAVE WON" (or, more likely, "YOU HAVE NOT WON.""

    In my youth i worked in my uncle's newsagent and sold these cards to customers. Its perceived as a 'game' and i often stood behind the till selecting and handing a card over, watching some poor sod examine his scratched card to see if they had won. it struck me then and stuck with me that the whole 'game' was a scam. we all know it, but by obfuscating the 'you win' or 'you lose' message in a simple (?) problem (match 3 icons etc) they made it feel like something else. i wondered how differently people might feel if they just handed me £1 and i just told them 'sorry not this time' but every so often they won and i handed them some cash?

  152. Matt Horrocks

    Shop just as bad...

    "so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't."

    Surprised the woman in the shop wasn't stupid enough to hand over the prize anyway and think "the machine must be wrong".

    Morons...

  153. Mark Aggleton

    @Niall Tracey

    Ever seen a balance sheet?

  154. Scrat
    Dead Vulture

    History repeats itself

    Blackadder: "I have two beans, then I add two more beans. What does that make?"

    Baldrick: "A very small casserole."

    'nuff said.

  155. Edward Pearson
    Stop

    My god.

    I've just glanced through some of these comments. People are actually explaining why -6 is higher than -8!!!

    "

    If a number is positive, then it is greater than a negative number, therefore:

    3 > 2 > 1 > 0 > -1 > -2 > -3 etc...

    "

    Jesus christ, even the Digg crowd wouldn't need an explanation.

  156. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    @ Niall Tracey... and why voltage isn't like temperature.

    'Have you ever told anyone to turn "negative right"? No, you say "left".'

    Haven't you ever seen the Beatles film "Yellow Submarine"? Right at the end, when the Blue Meanie army is being routed, their leader tries to send them back into battle with the words

    "You're advancing the wrong way! Retreat backwards!"

    And the #1. reason why voltages and temperatures aren't commensurate in this discussion? You don't root-mean-square a temperature, that's why.

  157. Daniel B.
    Boffin

    Still fun...

    Everything came about because of voltage. Oh well...

    I just remembered back in secondary school when I failed a math exam. Funny thing was that one of the problems I got "wrong" according to the teacher was something like this:

    3. Monday at noon, a thermometer shows that we are at 11 ºC. By midnight, however, the temp has dropped down to -3 ºC. Whats the difference between these two temperature readings?

    Guess what: I answered 14. And according to my teacher, I WAS WRONG. And you know what was the most funny thing about this? More than half of the entire class had also answered 8, confirming my fears that I was surrounded by stupid people. Thank God I transferred to another school (and city) 3 months later.

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