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    • Gracie Cunningham went viral in August for a video in which she says: ‘I don’t think math is real’ 
    • She questioned how early mathematicians came up with algebra, why, and what they needed it for
    • Some commenters sent her cruel messages, calling her stupid and even telling her to kill herself
    • But scientists, mathematicians, college professors, and philosophers came to her defense, saying her questions were smart

    Scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers have come to the defense of a 16-year-old who was mocked for a TikTok video in which she said she does’t think that math is ‘real.’

    Gracie Cunningham went viral in August after posting the clip, in which she applies makeup while questioning who came up with algebra, how they came up with it, and why they bothered when they didn’t even ‘need’ it for anything ‘back then.’

    Some commenters and other social media users were quick to attack the American teenager, calling her ‘stupid’ and other cruel names — but when the vitriol reached a peak, dozens of academics chimed in to say that her questions were actually incredibly smart, with some taking the time to answer them thoughtfully.

    Viral: Gracie Cunningham went viral in August for a video in which she says: ‘I was just doing my makeup for work and I just wanted to tell you guys how I don’t think math is real’

    'And I know that, like, it's "real" because we all, like, learn it in school or whatever, but who came up with this concept?' she asked

    'And you're gonna be like, "Pythagoras!" But how? How did he come up with this? He was living in, like, the — I don't know, whenever he was living. But it was not now, where you can have technology and stuff, you know?

    ‘And I know that, like, it’s “real” because we all, like, learn it in school or whatever, but who came up with this concept?’ she asked

    She questioned how early mathematicians came up with algebra, asking: Which, first of all, how would you even figure that out? How would you, like, start on the concept of algebra?'

    She questioned how early mathematicians came up with algebra, asking: Which, first of all, how would you even figure that out? How would you, like, start on the concept of algebra?’

    'Like, what did you need it for?' she went on. 'You didn't need it! So why would you come up with it?'

    'Like, he didn't even have plumbing. And he was like, "Let me worry about y = mx + b,"' she said

    ‘Like, what did you need it for?’ she went on. ‘You didn’t need it! So why would you come up with it?’

    ‘I was just doing my makeup for work and I just wanted to tell you guys how I don’t think math is real,’ she began in the original viral video, which has been viewed 1.3 million times on TikTok and many more times on Twitter.

    ‘And I know that, like, it’s “real” because we all, like, learn it in school or whatever, but who came up with this concept?’ she asked.

    ‘And you’re gonna be like, “Pythagoras!” But how? How did he come up with this? He was living in, like, the — I don’t know, whenever he was living. But it was not now, where you can have technology and stuff, you know?

    ‘Like, he didn’t even have plumbing. And he was like, “Let me worry about y = mx + b.” Which, first of all, how would you even figure that out? How would you, like, start on the concept of algebra?

    ‘Like, what did you need it for? You know? ‘Cause, like, I get, like, addition. Like, hey, if I take two apples and then add three it’s five. You know? 

    Awful: Gracie received cruel comments for her video, with strangers DMing her to call her stupid and tell her to kill herself

    Awful: Gracie received cruel comments for her video, with strangers DMing her to call her stupid and tell her to kill herself

    'I hate you, and I want you to know that you will never feel fulfilled in your life,' wrote one

    ‘I hate you, and I want you to know that you will never feel fulfilled in your life,’ wrote one

    Chill, guys! She took to Twitter to remind people she is just 16

    Chill, guys! She took to Twitter to remind people she is just 16

    Sad: She also made a quip about it being bad for anxiety and depression

    Sad: She also made a quip about it being bad for anxiety and depression

    ‘But how would you come up with the concept of, like, algebra? ‘Cause what would you need it for? You know what I mean? Like what would you need it for back then?

    ‘You didn’t need it! So why would you come up with it?’ 

    Gracie seems to gone viral in part because she is pretty and blonde, because she peppered her speech with the word ‘like,’ and because she applied her makeup on camera as she posed her questions. 

    Those factors — combined with the soundbite ‘math isn’t real’ — quickly propelled the video across several social media platforms and Gracie was soon met with hateful comments.

    She has since deleted the video from Twitter, where she received much of the hate, but not before screengrabbing some particularly awful messages.

    ‘I hate you, and I want you to know that you will never feel fulfilled in your life,’ wrote one man.  

    ‘Ur really stupid,’ wrote another. ‘U should probably just find a big cliff tbh.’ 

    Wait a minute! But social media users came to Gracie's defense, and it wasn't long before dozens of academics in mathematical, scientific, and philosophical fields were applauding her

    Wait a minute! But social media users came to Gracie’s defense, and it wasn’t long before dozens of academics in mathematical, scientific, and philosophical fields were applauding her

    The cruel messages got so bad that Gracie felt the need to remind everyone that she is just 16 — and that the comments hurt.

    ‘Going viral for being a dumb*** doesn’t help your anxiety or depression in case anyone needed to know that,’ she tweeted. 

    But social media users also began coming to Gracie’s defense, and it wasn’t long before dozens of academics in mathematical, scientific, and philosophical fields were applauding her. 

    ‘You didn’t sound stupid at all in the first one. You sounded like a brilliant student asking smart questions in a silly and fun way. I would know,’ wrote a college professor.

    ‘So this is trending, and a lot of people are making fun of this young woman wondering how Maths was derived and questioning why it actually works,’ wrote another. ‘As a Lecturer, it is *so* important not to dismiss questions like these ones. Genuine questions require passionate answers.’ 

    ‘The way you are thinking about math is very constructive!’ wrote a philosophy graduate. ‘I spent my entire school career thinking I HATED math exactly because I had no context for questions like this! I only started to appreciate math once I took some philosophy of math, where instructors were actually willing to answer these sorts of questions. 

    Keep going: Several wrote that her questions were really smart and she sounded like a great student

    Keep going: Several wrote that her questions were really smart and she sounded like a great student

    ‘Anyone can memorize formulas, but you don’t really start UNDERSTANDING math until you start asking questions like this! Don’t let the jerks get you too down!’ 

    Dr. Héloïse Stevance, an astrophysicist, shared a whole video in which she answered some of Gracie’s questions.

    ‘These people are trash (I’m a literal astrophysicist and I’m telling you, they’re trash),’ she wrote. 

    Others took the time to recommend further reading she could do. 

    Another commenter wrote: ‘Hey i hope you know math twitter has been defending your initial video from moment one!! These are literally foundational questions of our field and its awesome to hear anyone asking them!’ 

    ‘The reason physicists and mathematicians are responding differently to your question is that they love questions and take them seriously,’ said another. ‘They discovered formulas as answers to questions that people asked or could ask.’

    And yet another wrote: ‘Hi you should totally study philosophy in college because these are the exact questions we ask except we don’t usually go viral because of them. Keep asking questions! 

    Take two: Gracie eventually followed the original video up with another

    Take two: Gracie eventually followed the original video up with another

    'I'd like to redo my TikTok about how math is not real, and I would like to be smart this time... 'cause I didn't know that was gonna go viral,' she said with an embarrassed giggle

    'I'd like to redo my TikTok about how math is not real, and I would like to be smart this time... 'cause I didn't know that was gonna go viral,' she said with an embarrassed giggle

    ‘I’d like to redo my TikTok about how math is not real, and I would like to be smart this time… ’cause I didn’t know that was gonna go viral,’ she said with an embarrassed giggle

    'My first question is, how did people know what they were looking for when they started theorizing about formulas? Because I would't know what to look for if I'm making up math'

    ‘My first question is, how did people know what they were looking for when they started theorizing about formulas? Because I would’t know what to look for if I’m making up math’

    'Question number two: Once they did find these formulas, how did they know that they were right?' she asked

    'Question number two: Once they did find these formulas, how did they know that they were right?'

    ‘Question number two: Once they did find these formulas, how did they know that they were right?’ she asked

    Gracie eventually followed the original video up with another.

    ‘I’d like to redo my TikTok about how math is not real, and I would like to be smart this time… ’cause I didn’t know that was gonna go viral,’ she said with an embarrassed giggle.

    ‘My first question is, how did people know what they were looking for when they started theorizing about formulas? Because I would’t know what to look for if I’m making up math.

    ‘Question number two: Once they did find these formulas, how did they know that they were right?

    ‘Number three: Why is everyone being really mean to me on Twitter?

    ‘Number four: Why did a physicist who’s followed by Barack Obama retweet me?

    ‘Number five: Is this number five? I can’t count,’ she joked. ‘Number six: Is anyone goes post this on Twitter? 

    ‘Number seven: Why are the only people who are disagreeing with me the ones who are dumb, and the physicists and mathematicians are agreeing with me?’

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