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Has Terrence Howard Reinvented Math?

Has Terrence Howard Reinvented Math?

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The opinions and views expressed in this article are meant to be constructive and are never intended to be malicious. These views are solely those of the author and do not reflect the sentiments of the Black Girl Nerds editorial staff or the Editor-In-Chief, either wholly or in part.

Terrence Howard is a very popular actor who has been in a lot of big things, such as 1999’s The Best Man and 2005’s Hustle & Flow, but he’s perhaps best known for his roles in 2008’s Iron Man and the 2015 TV show Empire. Most audiences remember him from Iron Man before he was replaced by Don Cheadle’s version of the character following a pay dispute with the MCU. Apparently, he wasn’t happy with the role because he wasn’t making as much money as Robert Downey Jr — something he was very vocal about after his exit from the franchise.

Well, nobody can actually dispute the fact that Terrence Howard has been vocal about Hollywood and his place in the industry, even when his statements were pretty far out there — like the one where he claimed that people only watched Iron Man because he starred in it. But that’s far from being the only outlandish thing the Empire star has stated, especially in recent times. In fact, Howard made some pretty bizarre claims during his most recent appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience.

This also includes his unorthodox scientific beliefs (and we say “beliefs” since they differ from observable facts in every conceivable shape, form, and meaning), like his focus on disproving Peano Axioms. In layman’s terms, Terrence Howard is focused on disproving the axioms of arithmetic or the foundations of mathematics. He made controversial statements in which he claims that he found proof that 1×1=2 (which absolutely makes no sense) and that zero isn’t a number — when, in fact, it is. Zero just isn’t a natural number, though it is often treated as such in certain mathematical and scientific applications.

Admittedly, no actual mathematicians are taking Terrence Howard seriously on mathematics. Trying to prove or disprove the language of the universe isn’t as easy as waking up one morning and deciding that basic rules of nature don’t apply to Lucius Lyon himself — especially if you’re trying to disprove laws that have explained how other natural laws work after they have been observed.

But then again, no one serious about math or science goes to Joe Rogan’s show for their scientific facts. Rogan has hosted Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox, who are renowned astrophysicists and authors. Astrophysics is highly dependent on mathematics, especially for modeling celestial mechanics. Terrence Howard’s attempts to disprove the basic laws of math, though funny, aren’t inherently bad. It’s good to be curious about stuff, and trying to disprove something is an alternative way of learning new things.

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However, what makes Howard’s case interesting is his train of thought regarding the matter. According to him, the concept of zero is either misinterpreted, misrepresented, or completely misunderstood. During one debate with an unnamed professor of mathematics (mentioned in his book One Times One Equals Two), Howard claimed that zero isn’t a thing because if both of them had an apple, and Howard was to give his apple to the professor, he (Howard) would then have two apples.

To those who passed a second-grade elementary school, this claim makes absolutely no sense, but Terrence Howard defended his theory by stating that, as long as both he and the professor are in the same universe, whatever the professor has, he (Howard) has, because everything in this universe is connected. This somewhat aligns with string theory, which suggests that all particles and fundamental forces in the universe are connected. But string theory is highly dependent on math, which makes Terrence Howard a walking contradiction — admittedly, one of incredible acting talent.

Though his explanation really sounds like a layman’s version of string theory as told to a third-grader, such claims have been the topic of several philosophical, spiritual, and scientific theories. All of these debate the nature of zero, but none of them (not even the contemporary mathematics) debate its existence. Howard also mentioned the first law of thermodynamics and how it applies to his apple analogy about the non-existence of zero as a number and the interconnectedness of everything.

And this is where things get borderline hilarious. To quote a famous YouTuber, Charles Christopher White Jr., better known as MoistCr1TiKaL (aka penguinz0), who commented that under Howard’s notion of zero, “He should have no right to be whining about not getting paid as much as Robert Downey Jr., because basically, Robert Downey Jr.’s money is his [Howard’s] money.”

Ultimately, we’re not here to judge anyone. Terrence Howard is an established actor, and a good one. Thirty-seven awards, including an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in Hustle & Flow, and 60 nominations in total, attest to the fact. However, we take some liberty in judging and disproving the way in which famous people present their ideas as scientific facts. You know, like the time Trump suggested injecting bleach into the human body as a means of fighting COVID.


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