
In The Wizard of Oz
when the Scarecrow gets his diploma
(instead of a brain) he says
the following:
The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.
This is incorrect. I suspect my readers spotted this mistake while watching the movie. If you type"Wizard of Oz" isosceles
into google you get over 2500 hits far less than I would have thought. (Though if you replace isosceles with pythagorean you get over 8000 hits.) So this error is somewhat known. But is it an error? Possibilities: The writers and everyone who proofread the script did not catch this. Realize that this is not hard math. Wouldn't someone have noticed it?
 One of the points of the movie is that the Scarecrow is already smart. Hence the writers are trying to show that he was smart (though didn't know math) both before and after getting the diploma, so the diploma didn't change anything except his confidence. And when it comes to math, a misplaced confidence.
 Recall that the movie is all Dorothy's dream. The writers were making the point that Dorothy didn't know the proper way to state the theorem.

In Miracle on 34th street (1947 version)
Kris Kringle, who claims to be Santa Claus,
states that he has passed psychological tests,
and brags that he knows that
John Quincy Adams' vice president was Daniel Tompkins.
But this is incorrect! John Quincy Adams's VP was John Calhoun! (Tompkins was James Monroe's VP.) How well known is this error? If you type"Miracle on 34th street" Tompkins
into google you get over 1000 hits (far more than I would have thought). Is this really an error? Daniel Tompkins was our 6th VP. John Quincy Adams was our 6th Prez. They just didn't line up (see chart at the end of the answers to my prez quiz). Hence it was an honest mistake on the part of the writers (I find this far more believable than the Scarecrowmath error not being detected.)
 The writers were trying to tell us that Kris Kringle wasn't Santa Claus. Or at least put some doubt in our minds. Of course, that would only work if the audience knew their vice presidents. (Easy now with the excellent book Bland Ambition: From Adams to Quayle The Cranks, Criminals, Tax Cheats, and Golfers who made it to Vice President but harder in 1947 when the movie was made.
 There have been two remakes of the movie (that I know of) but I don't know if they contain the error. If you know, let me know.
Computational Complexity and other fun stuff in math and computer science from Lance Fortnow and Bill Gasarch
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Movie Mistakes or are they?
Note the following two movies mistakes.
Or are they mistakes?
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For what its worth, these errors do appear on the goofs pages for these movies on IMDB:
ReplyDeletehttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032138/goofs
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039628/goofs
In my opinion, the Oz "error" was probably intentional.
The very fact that the Scarecrow is talking about math shows that he's intelligent. What he says is of course irrelevant.
ReplyDeleteI basically agree with Anonymous at 12:56pm.
ReplyDeleteA very reasonable interpretation, from reading the Oz books, that the math is supposed to be ludicrous and that a diploma doesn't really change anything.
In later books, Baum had a character called "H. M. WoggleBug, T. E.". The "H. M." stands for "highly magnified". The WoggleBug entered academia as a nondescript insect viewed under a microscope in a biology class. (In the illustrations by John R. Neill, he looked like some sort of beetle.) After the microscope highly magnified him, he managed to stay in that state. Since he liked higher education so much, he eventually gave himself an academic title, like MBA or PhD, except that it it was a title of his own invention: "T.E., Thoroughly Educated".
There was also a spell in one of the later Oz books that could only be activated if you "counted to seventeen by twos", but I forget how they eventually managed to do that.
ReplyDeleteYou could, if you started with "1" :)
DeleteCounting to 17 by 2s is easy. Just start at 1. If I asked you to count to 10, where would you start?
ReplyDeleteGoogle Books found the quote for me, in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". The solution they adopted was to start from 1/2, whence they proceeded to 1, 3, 5,... and then 17. This was good enough to make the Wishing Pills work.
ReplyDeleteI realize it's nearly six years later, but fer cryin' out loud, 1/2 + 2 doesn't equal 1!
ReplyDeleteNo, but 1/2 × 2 is equal to 1 and 2 ÷ 1/2 is equal to 1
DeleteNo, 2 ÷ 1/2 is equal to 4.
DeleteNo, 1. Multiplication and Division are equal precedence, so without parenthesis, do the terms left to right. 2/1 is equal to 2. 2/2 is equal to 1. Anonymous at 1:13 AM is correct.
DeleteAndrew, I know it's a year since you posted in a ten year old thread and you'll never read this but you're wrong. 2 divided by 0.5 can't possibly have the same answer as 2 multiplied by 0.5. You're misinterpreting the '/' character as a programmer's division sign when it's clearly intended to be a fraction bar, as evidenced by the use of the actual division sign to distinguish it.
DeleteIt's years later but I don't want anyone coming back and reading this to be misinformed. Andrew and Anonymous at 1:13 AM are wrong.
DeleteThink about it, 2 multiplied by 0.5 is 1. 2 divided by 0.5 can't possibly have the same result.
The error is in the interpretation of the '/' character, which is this case is fraction bar, not a division sign. Fraction bars take precedence over multiplication and division.
Dear anonymous, I know it's been a hundred years and nobody cares but still, nobody cares. I don't do math but I do Oz. The scarecrow (again, nobody cares) was supposed to make sense in his statement  that was a script error. The movie actually contains several minor errors, mostly related to items overlooked during final editing. Just like most people I barely care about this, if at all.
DeleteNot necessarily an error. The books were written by an old school, we're talking votes for Lincoln, Republican, who saw the Progressive Party as a mistake, full of idiot farmers who didn't understand that if the new farming techniques increased the yield for all the farmers then the market value of the produce goes down, and which was one of the founding complaints of the founding Progressive Farmers; "I'm getting cheated, I harvest three times as many carrots and I am making half as much!" Those farmers were leaving the Republican Party and join with the Unionists and the Socialists. Te metaphors go on, the Union lobbyists as represented by the Tinman, were seen as heartless unwilling to take the fiscal risk of a business failing but demanding a cut of the profits to "grease" the wheels of government (also read how the tinman slaughters the wolves), then come the socialists [today they'd be called communists] from Europe snarling over getting the rights that, frankly Americans already had, so they were dangerous, made a lot of noise but to the author they seemed to ultimately be cowards. Emerald City is about the switch to green back currency which we're not backed by gold in the same same way previous dollars were. You could no longer exchange dollars for an oz. of gold or silver (the slippers are silver slippers in the book),... anyway you can probably look up the rest.
DeleteSo, the writers may have wanted to keep it clear that the Scarecrow was no smarter the "Wizard of Ounces" was just conning everyone.
Must be Common Core math!
ReplyDeleteI was watching the audio commentary for the Wizard of Oz and apparently the Scarecrow's mistake was intentional on the writers' behalf. It was an joke that he would say something that sounded smart on the surface, but showed that the wizard hadn't actually done anything to improve his intelligence (because he still got the math wrong).
ReplyDeleteAnd from the first post I read in 2009 to the latest in 2015 it only took us 6 years to figure out the mistake was intentional!
ReplyDeleteTL;DR: That's a right triangle you idiot!
ReplyDeleteThe simpsons did it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4zqR7GhrqQ
ReplyDeleteWhere's my citizens cane clap gif when I need it?
DeleteFrom what I've read, the actor playing the Scarecrow just wasn't able to remember the Pythagorean Theorem correctly and, after several attempts, the director just went with the one that sounded best. So, it could still have been an error without being in the script.
ReplyDeleteOh my god. You don’t understand the movie. The equation is wrong, because the scarecrow is not smart. People believe he is smart because he now has a diploma. The tin man did not get a heart. He got a ticking clock. But anyone listening to the clock will believe he now has a heart. The lion is still a coward. He got a medal for bravery he did not earn. But anyone who sees he has that medal will assume he is courageous. That’s the whole fucking point of the movie
ReplyDeleteHow to change people's perception of things through trickery.
DeleteAnna, it's not trickery, it's politics, wizard is a politician. But really they are the same things
DeleteLook up the gold standard and wizard of Oz some time.
DeleteBut the Scarecrow was smart. It was he who said, "I have an idea how to get in there." The Tin Man cared for Dorothy, needing oil when he was brought to tears thinking about her. And the Cowardly Lion overcame his fears to help rescue Dorothy, and in the book he performed many acts of bravery.
DeleteThe story is meant to be about gold at the time, shoes in book were silver, yellow brick wall the gold, witch of the east killed but western world fought on. I can't remember exactly the points but I'm sure someone will enjoy looking up the story and it's underlying story.
ReplyDeleteI stay with it's a mistake they let stay. So Oz can't accept they killed the witch. He did sucker the group, which did what he couldn't. But he was trying to make good on the Dorothy angle. Yes he was a bad wiz. Lying to everyone he had tech as advanced as the witches Dad but they wanted a leader so bad they and he couldn't say no. Dorothys supposed to be an orphaned city kid now living a farm girls life And the MGM 1939 movie is all her imaginings while unconscious. She's still the regressed though developing kid she was before she got bonked on the head. The earlier Oz movies put Dorothys origin as Oz Emerald city. She's, like Jesus, taken away from town to save her life. And on first meeting The Good Witch is the only one remembering that. And Dorothy now with regained insight into Oz, can return to Oz in emergencies. Uncle Henry is supposed to know it. But anyway Dot wakes up. Saying there's as much wisdom here as anywhere so why leave. And there you go. Its complicated
ReplyDelete...First of all, "IT'S A FANTASY MOVIE, NOT REAL LIFE". Second, I have a feeling that the producers were betting that a bunch of computer geeks living in their mothers basement would be arguing about this 75 years later!...Third, case closed, it wasn't REAL.
ReplyDeleteThe scarecrow's isosceles triangle equation is deliberately wrong  it's a joke  a gag  he has a diploma but that doesn't make him smart. 21st century brainiacs ain't so smart, neither.
ReplyDeleteYou are of course correct, and when I had proof of that I blogged on it:
Deletehttps://blog.computationalcomplexity.org/2017/09/thescarecrowsmathbeingwrongwas.html
SCARECROW THEOREM FINALLY SHOWN TO BE CORRECT!
ReplyDeleteAfter the Scarecrow got his brains, this is what he actually said:
"There is a 3D surface such that the inverse stereographic projection of an isosceles triangle onto this 3D surface will give projected curve lengths of any two sides of the triangle to be equal to 1. The 3D surface can also be constructed such that the remaining side will have a projected curve length of 4. Thus, the projected sides will appear in such a way that...
...The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side."
Unfortunately, most of the Scarecrow's mathematical statement ended up on the cutting room floor. All that is left is the abridged and inaccurate version in the movie. Hollywood had no appreciation of the Scarecrow's mathematical genius.