Studies show that only 60 percent of Japanese 20-somethings are able to correctly solve this math problem, compared to a whopping 90 percent 30 years ago.

Math isn’t exactly my strong suit. If it were, I probably wouldn’t be making a living writing juvenile jokes on the Internet. So, it’s without any shame whatsoever that I say I was absolutely stumped by the following math problem:


Luckily, I’m in good company: 60 percent of Japanese 20-somethings, and even the largely infallible Google Calculator itself (almost certainly the predecessor to Skynet), were unable to solve the problem correctly.

At least the Japanese adults and Google make an attempt at correctly solving the problem, instead of, like me, just shrugging and mumbling, “Iunno. Three?,” but the solution they arrive at—9 —is apparently still wrong.

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There is, of course, a somewhat deceptive explanation for all of this. It may not be that kids these days are getting dumber – as your ornery uncle and most New York Times op-ed columnists insist. Well… they may be getting dumber, but this math problem, at least, doesn’t accurately depict the intellectual decline of millennials, is what we’re saying. Because, you see, the problem lies in how 20-somethings are reading the equation.

Apparently, 30 years or so ago, it was generally understood that the “1/3” part of the problem wasn’t to be read as “one-third,” but instead indicates that you need to divide. So, following that logic, you come up with this process to solve the problem:


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Japanese news stories, written largely by middle-aged guys who got their start on typewriters are, unsurprisingly, blaming those dagnab computers, the Netterwebs and probably also rap music.