Turns Out the People Who Don’t Understand Science Don’t Understand Math, Either

On his radio show yesterday, conservative Christian radio host Bryan Fischer spoke with a caller who had an idea of how to fix the health care crisis without that pesky ObamaCare: What if the government just gave every (legal) American $2,000,000 to cover future health care costs and left it at that? It sure as hell would be cheaper than the $634,000,000 it cost for the Healthcare.gov website! (Actually, the cost for the website was under $100,000,000, but you know, facts.)

Fischer thought it sounded like a great idea:

You know, that is brilliant. Because there’s 315,000,000 Americans. Lifetime caps on most health insurance policies is $2,000,000… that would be the solution right there. Just establish a health savings account for everybody, an HSA, and put $2,000,000 in it. For every single American. That’s $630,000,000. Problem solved! Done!… That would be $4,000,000 less than what it took to set up this website that doesn’t work. Man, I’m telling you… that’s absolutely brilliant!

Just one problem with that.

(315,000,000 Americans) x ($2,000,000 each) = $630,000,000,000,000.

That’s 630 trillion dollars. Not million dollars, but trillion dollars. Well over 500 times the amount of money currently circulating in the country.

It eventually dawned on Fischer that he was off by a little bit…

Well, let’s see… that’s not right. The math isn’t right on that. If you gave everybody $2,000,000, that would actually multiply… I’m running into math problems… if you gave everybody in America $2, that would be $630,000,000… so my bad on the math.

That’s the fastest fallout from a get-rich-quick scheme *ever*.

I guess it’s not very surprising that someone who thinks the age of the Earth is measured in thousands of years would be duped by bad math.

You almost have to feel bad for him. Fischer sounded so deflated. He realized that something he really, really wanted to believe in just didn’t jibe with reality…

It’s the most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard. And the best part is that Fischer has the potential to experience it many times over.

Trillions of times over, even.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Well, remember that 1+1+1 = 1.

    • LutherW

      Of course, since 0+0+0=0 or was that 0-0-0?

    • Stev84

      It is. In one-digit binary.

      • Glasofruix

        0111 = 7

        • rhodent

          I think he meant something along the lines of modulo 2, where the only possible values are 0 and 1. 1 = 1, 1+1=0, 1+1+1=1, 1+1+1+1=0, etc.

          • Stev84


    • usclat

      I think he meant, the father, son and the holy ghost. Which according to some religious doctrines is one and the same person. Thus: one + one + one = one. Silly I know, but there it is. :-)

    • NG

      Even if you were right, that’s 1 + 1 + 2 + 1, not 1 + 2 + 1 + 1. (It was only one shot that got the chandelier.)

  • eric

    This is what happens when people turn off their brains. You don’t have to be good at math to figure this out. You don’t even need a calculator. You only really have to think about what happens if you ignore the “millions” label on each side. 634 (let’s use their number) / 315 = about $2 each.

    • WallofSleep

      So that’s Fischer’s healthcare plan? One 40 ounce of malt liquor, taken by mouth, annually?

      • Mitch

        I prefer Mickey’s or Steel Reserve as part of my healthcare regimen. That Colt 45 nonsense is basically a sugar pill.

      • allein

        Malt liquor? Well I guess medicine isn’t supposed to taste good, anyway…

  • invivoMark

    What I like about this is that they’re essentially proposing universal socialized healthcare. Of course, if you asked either of them whether they’d support universal socialized healthcare, I bet $100 they’d both emphatically say “no.”

    • WallofSleep

      Yeah, ya gotta watch out for that crowd. They mount their goal-posts on rocket sleds.

    • Puzzled

      Not really. It’s like the difference between a welfare state and a guaranteed minimum income.

      • invivoMark

        If people regularly spent over $2,000,000 on health care, you would have a point. However, I’m sorry to disappoint you: The Six Million Dollar Man was a work of fiction.

        • Puzzled

          I said like, not identical. Your point cuts against the problem here – if we allocated 2 million per person, we wouldn’t need to worry about the fact that we’ve allocated more than we have, since we wouldn’t use it all.

    • Jim Jones

      As long as the government doesn’t interfere with their Medicare it’s all good.

    • Simon

      Did you mean $100, or $1,000,000,000,000 dollars? Cuz remember, with these people, you have to be careful.

    • Jeremy Banchiere

      I don’t support socialism at all! But I am in favor of my taxes being used to pay for healthcare.

      • Mark W.

        Soooo, you do support socialism, you just don’t like the word, most likely because idiots like Fischer make it sound dirty.

        • Jeremy Banchiere


  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    The first comment in the blaze article disproving the 634 million dollar price tag rumor.

    “RJJinGadsdenOct. 10, 2013 at 2:50pm
    I caught a news broadcast this morning that said the site was supposed to have cost near $94 million, then said that it had reportedly cost the $600 plus million. But, that it had actually cost some $930 million so far. Either way, what a deal that was?”
    Just remember folks, these people can vote.

    • LutherW

      The site was built by a company from Canada, so it is using the worst of Government and Private Industry to waste money and maybe even to send that money out of the country. But unlike the Star Wars program, it is likely that sometime it will actually work since the program does not defy Science.

    • Jim Jones

      Best estimate for the final costs of Bush’s two wars: $3 trillion.

  • Rain

    At least he didn’t dig the hole deeper. Sometimes when people try to cover their “math tracks”, the pride sets in and the hole gets deeper and deeper. Much easier to BS people about science than simple math, lol.

  • Lando

    I’ll take my 2 dollars, buy 5 bandaids and a dozen asprin. I’m pretty sure I’ll be covered for the rest of my life.

    • JT Rager

      Not sure the “rest of your life” part was intentional. That is, we always have enough health care coverage for the rest of our life, presumably.

      • Lando

        I’ll admit, I didn’t notice the wording until I had clicked ‘post,’ but it did warm my heart. And I stand by my Freudian slip. Fischer can send me a check if he’d like.

  • SeekerLancer

    Behold the power of wanting to believe something. It steamrolls over common sense and basic knowledge.

  • AFabulousAtlantanAtheist

    Who needs more than $2 for healthcare when you’ve got the holy healing power of Jesus Christ to enrich your health

  • WallofSleep

    “Fischer thought it sounded like a great idea”

    Surely a preamble to misery, pain, and loss second only to the infamous “Hold my beer. Watch this!”

    “You almost have to feel bad for him.”

    No. No I do not. :p

    • Baby_Raptor

      Why would we?

  • nice_marmot

    Then let’s just give every American $630 trillion. Boom! Problem solved!

    If only there were some way he could read whether Jesus would be more concerned with healing the sick than bickering over money. Hmm.

  • trj

    Hm, a health plan that mandatorily covers everybody, financed by the state through taxes (unless we assume the money just magically appears from somewhere).

    Excuse my naïvity, but isn’t that pretty much exactly the kind of arrangement the opponents of Obamacare are fighting against?

    • SeekerLancer

      Maybe if we keep this up we can trick them into thinking socialized healthcare was their idea and it’ll have no problem getting implemented.

      • WallofSleep

        Heh, don’t bet on it. The gop was in favor of most of what’s in the ACA back in the 80s and 90s when they were the greatest, super-awesome-est ideas that could save Christ’s own America (i.e. “republican ideas”).

        Now that a black democrat is in the oval office promoting some of the same ideas, these ideas have become vile, evil, nefarious ideas designed specifically by satan to destroy Christ’s own America, and this crime is being perpetrated on the American people by an anti-christ non-citizen who stole two elections, and is somehow both secretly a militant atheist and a devout muslim terrorist.

        Say, are people still afraid of getting goiters? We could say Obama causes goiters as well. Someone is bound to believe that.

        • Puzzled

          You do know there are folks, like me, who opposed the Contract on America and continue to oppose the ideas they proposed, right? This is just as much a criticism of the progressives who signed on to ACA as it is of conservatives.

          • WallofSleep

            That’s fine. I was speaking specifically to SL’s notion that we could trick them into thinking something was their idea.

            • SeekerLancer

              I was mostly joking but point well taken.

    • rhodent

      They probably do think the money would just come magically from somewhere. But in any case, it should be clear by now that the right doesn’t oppose the concept of socialism one tenth much as they oppose any plan that has the word “socialism” attached to it. Keep your government hands off my Medicare and all that, don’tcha know.

      Oh, and of course anything with the word “Obama” is opposed on the same grounds, since “Obama” is a “socialist”.

    • Puzzled

      No, at least, not in my case. I’m fighting against requiring people to purchase insurance from a small number of private companies, while simultaneously preventing those companies from serving their only market function (which, admittedly, they don’t do great at anyway) – risk stratification.

      • idahogie

        Can we assume that you must be in favor of some of the Democratic ideas for health care reform — a public option, single payer, universal care — instead of the Republican mandate idea? Or their back-up idea of a voucher system?

        • Jim Jones

          Single payer is a terrible idea. Each state should have its own system.

          • idahogie

            Each state having its own system is a terrible idea. And the individual mandate is a not-much-less terrible idea. We should be doing what other civilized countries are doing.

            • Monala

              Although each state could have its own single-payer system. Isn’t that how it works in Canada?

              • Jim Jones

                Yes. And if they meet minimum standards, the feds give them money for it.

                • idahogie

                  And now you’re proposing a federal bureaucracy to monitor the state performance.

                  Your statement about federal programs in the US being unwieldy is also questionable. We have plenty of large, nation-wide programs that are not.

                • Jim Jones

                  > And now you’re proposing a federal bureaucracy to monitor the state performance.

                  That’s way smaller and easier to do.

                  > Your statement about federal programs in the US being unwieldy is also questionable. We have plenty of large, nation-wide programs that are not.

                  Like …… ?

                • idahogie

                  Social security. Medicare. Military branches. Interstate highway system. NASA. NIH. IRS. SEC. etc., etc.

            • Jim Jones

              Canada: Each province has its own system.

              New Zealand: About the size and population of Colorado. Has its own system.

              The US way of everything federal results in huge, unwieldy bureaucracies.

              • smrnda

                The problem is that certain states would just decide to offer nothing.

        • Puzzled

          For me, it’s a hierarchy. At the bottom is the ACA as it passed – basically the pre-ACA scenario plus an individual mandate and an uneconomic restriction. Only slightly better is the pre-ACA system – better than that the ACA as it was originally written. Above that, single-payer, above that, universal basic and catastrophic care (counting preventative) with the option to purchase individual insurance. There’s a bunch in between, but at the top is an actual functional market, combined with a citizen’s dividend and guaranteed minimum income large enough to ensure that people can access care.

          • Ewan

            There’s no scope for a functioning market in health insurance. Insurance is all about laying off risks, and while for a lot of people having expensive heath issues is a risk, for some it’s a certainty. No ‘insurance’ product can cover those people and still meaningfully be called insurance, but they still need to be cared for.

  • rhodent

    I think the idea of giving every American two million dollars is a great idea. But before we can make certain it works, we need a pilot program. I nominate myself. Oh, and since it’s a pilot program and we don’t know how well it will work, I’ll hold onto my health insurance until we’re certain the other system works, which won’t be until after I die since it’s supposed to be a lifetime plan.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wouldn’t that still be Socialist, though?

    • http://codemonkeybryan.com Bryan Elliott

      Hey, if it’s a tax credit, it’s no socialist, amirite? I’ll take a $2m lifetime tax credit.

    • Puzzled

      What do you mean still? There is nothing socialist about ACA (alas.)

      • Baby_Raptor

        There isn’t, but one of their big claims is that it supposedly is Socialist. So I was just continuing along that line of thought.

  • Cybershaman

    I’ve missed decimal places and zeros before but…wow… :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004052694896 Jack Dowell

    Even if the math worked as Fischer though it did, there is still a blatant problem with it. As so far as I can tell, the site cost, assuming Fischer was right about the cost, 634 million once. The plan proposed would be cheaper, yes. Until three people were born, at which point it would become $2,000,000 more expensive. In 2010, about 4 million people were born. We can then assume that around 11,000 people are born a day, which means that one day after it was implemented, it would be $22,000,000 more expensive. (Note that this is using Fischer Math™, not actual math) So yeah, apparently basic logic is also not a skill of this guy. Not that I’m telling anyone anything new there.

    • Brian Westley

      There’s a book of the bible called “Numbers” but I don’t think it helps any…

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Well, if you know the first ten numbers, you know all of them, right? S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Checkmate, atheists!

    • The Other Weirdo

      Technically, even that would be bad. In Matthew 6:19-30~ Jesus waxed poetic on the subject of the future–he hated it, natch–and so having 2 million bucks in the kitty for future expenses would damn them to hell even faster than relying socialized medicine.

  • kielc

    “jibe” not “jive”… other than that, hilarious!

  • Oranje

    I love that the screencaps say “Caller on the Phone.”

    Instead of, say, caller on the toaster.

    • Artor

      People call on lines, but why does nobody ever call on the point, polygon, prism or tesseract? They’re just so one-dimensional.

  • http://codemonkeybryan.com Bryan Elliott

    Multiplication is so much easier in scientific notation.

  • http://twitter.com/thom1956 Tom Schott

    Some fundies like Bryan Fischer can even tie their shoes – without looking! … *some*, I said.

  • Mitch

    Last time I checked (and I’ll be honest, it’s been a while), Jesus never charged people for healing. Tell him to get his lazy self down from on high and start that back up!

  • baal

    They also regularly attribute later causes to earlier events. ex obama caused the Bush economic crash (-8% GDP in bush’s last year).

  • JimAido

    “That would be one billion, gagillion, fafillion….”

    “Mr. Bryan Fischer, sorry to interrupt. We have Dr. Evil on the line, and he wants his job back.”

  • Jason Hinchliffe

    To be fair, this is less an indictment of his math skills, than it is of his irrational support for anything that confirms his beliefs. He overlooks a painfully obvious error (from what we must assume is a legitimately stupid caller) simply because his line of (un)reasoning supports his position. System 1 failure at its finest. We should all take a lesson.

    • Brian

      No, thats still a pretty bad indictment on his math skills.

      • Jason Hinchliffe

        Apparently reading comprehension is the lacking skill here. “I said x is less than y” , not “x is not a bad indictment”.

  • Mario Strada

    Don’t the republicans understand that the reason why the website crashed was because it was too popular?

    I really have not heard any other explanation. New and popular. It happens all the time.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Well, no. It was a technological clusterfuck, actually.

      Late requirements. Changing requirements. Non-IT people overseeing it. Impossible deadlines. Complex and changing systems. Insufficient programmers hired.

      The website is a fucking disaster. It can be fixed, and it looks like it’s being worked on frantically as we speak. But really, this is a way bigger problem than a new and popular website not having enough servers to handle demand. This is piss-poor development.

      I want ObamaCare to work. I’d have preferred single-payer, but we didn’t get that. However, I’m perfectly willing to point at the stinky pile of crap that is the current website and call it a stinky pile of crap.

      • TheLump

        I’m with you on this, mate.

      • Mario Strada

        I have no doubt you are right. I have been building websites since 1995 and I have been part of several major deployments. Just recently I launched a site for a microchip manufacturer that crashed the moment it went online as all their china offices connected at once and the server was not configured properly.

        I am sure that the website for national healthcare is many degrees of complexity larger than anything I have ever had to deal with. I have read comments on the Blaze of people saying “I got a site with chat, forum, blog and a bunch of other stuff for free and it works great!” Which only goes to their ignorance in the matter.

        My point is that until I read your post, I did not know why it went down or what the problems may be. I usually go for the simplest explanation.

        At the same time, just thinking of what it takes to put an entire national health care online with all the security, multiple databases, the bureaucracy alone involved in making the minutest change it gives me a migraine.

        Frankly, I am not surprised it is a clusterfuck. It’s par for the course on any project of that magnitude.

        However, comparing the health care proper with its website is futile. Whatever happened was of a technical nature, not policy.

        By the way, agree completely with you that Single payer is the only way to go. Let’s never forget that “Obamacare” is nothing but an evolution of Newt Gingrich original counter proposal to Hillary CLinton back when she was trying to reform the system. At the time, they loved the mandate and what they disliked was paying for uninsured people ER visits. Especially migrant workers.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Fair enough. And I cannot agree more with you on this line:

          … comparing the health care proper with its website is futile. Whatever happened was of a technical nature, not policy.

          And if I implied that a website of this magnitude was going to be easy, I apologize. I know it’s incredibly difficult. It was always going to have problems on roll-out. Just … not necessarily this level of problems.

  • Kodie

    It was great that he admitted his embarrassing mistake instead of trillioning down for a change.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Pfft hee hee! I stared blankly at that for several seconds before it sank in.

  • uniqueuser

    No, no, no! Of course it would work. Doesn’t anyone here understand New [Testament] Math? You know, the one where five loaves of bread and two fish equals food for five thousand people.

  • http://iamchristianiamanatheist.blogspot.kr/ Christian Kemp

    I will give him credit for at least admitting he was wrong. Usually he doesn’t.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Oh Jesus Christ, I bet there are dogs that can count six zeroes twice.

  • curtcameron

    It’s interesting that this error, which is wrong by a factor of a million, is about the same error that they make in the age of the Earth, which is also off by about a million times.

  • Sara G.

    This made my day :D

  • the moother

    Let’s borrow that money from China to pay our exorbitant medical bills. And we can use that money to buy drugs and equipment from China. Everybody happy.

  • Mark W.

    “You almost have to feel bad for him”

    No, no I don’t, not even a little bit, not a smidge, or an iota. If Bryan was crushed by falling rocks, I would feel worse about the poor rocks that had the indignity of having this odious little troll smeared all over them.