Debunking Crap: Einstein Never Failed Math

June 9th, 2010

Today, I pleased to be starting a new section of “Don’t Step in the Poop called : debunking crap.  I’ll go through those “inspirational” stories and show which ones are true and which ones are BS.  And if you think there is no harm in a little inspiration, let me tell you” these stories are told for many reasons.  But fake stories also give you a false sense of reality.  Fiction is great.  But I don’t live my life according to a Stephen King novel.  And neither should you.

So, I’ll start with the old story of how Einstein failed math.

How many times does some sunshine pusher tell the story of how Einstein failed math.

And you think.  Heck, I failed math.  But if Einstein could become…well Einstein…then so can I.

But in the end, he’s a genius and you’re not.

Here’s why:


Yep, that’s right.  He didn’t fail math.  Not only did he NOT fail math, he was a math prodigy.

By 12, he already learned algebra and geometry on his own.  In fact, he was so advanced that his parents had to buy him more advanced textbooks because school was holding him back.

Well, you may be saying…maybe this is a story that came about after Einstein died.  Nope!  Seems the famous Robert Ripley (the believe it or not guy) was the one who started this story.  Note to all of you out there: when Ripley asks you to believe it or not, don’t believe it.  It’s probably not true.

But I digress.

But someone actually asked Einstein about it, to which he replied

“I never failed in mathematics. Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.”

In other words, he kicked some major math A*$.  He even came up with his own way to prove the Pythagorean theorem.

Again, it looks like another inspirational story is wrong.  The truth is guys like Einstein are born that way and no amount of effort can turn you into Einstein. That’s probably not what you want to hear, but that’s the way it goes.

By trying to “motivate” you, these motivational speakers are setting you up to fail.  You are probably not a math genius! There are very few math geniuses out there.  And if you fail math, it doesn’t make you a prodigy; it only makes you bad at math.

I failed math in high school. I aced it in college.  I did it by studying for hours on things Einstein could do when he was 10.

That’s life.

But if you need to be inspired by Einstein, here’s a better story.

Einstein couldn’t get a job as a professor (geniuses like him should get a job, right?)  So, what did he do?

He kept working his butt off 6 days a week at a patent office and kept writing papers.  He wrote four of them in his spare time and these four just so happened to totally destroy what everyone thought of physics.

In other words, he didn’t feel sorry for himself and revel in his genius.  He worked.  And THAT’s something everyone can do.

Read this for the truth on Einstein and math.


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