Simple math problem stumps internet

Posted at 10:30 AM, Jul 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-08 08:17:43-04

Math is hard. Thank goodness the internet is here to help! Except that while the internet has a lot of answers, a lot of those answers are wrong.

Such was the case with this math problem that has gone viral. The question was taken from a math test designed for 6- to 7-year-olds, according to Today. In the proud, storied tradition of using trains to illustrate math problems, the following conundrum was posed:

Twitter (@LouiseBloxham)

I’ll give you a few seconds to think this over. *Jeopardy music plays*

Think you have the answer? Well the answer is:


So why is the internet so confused? Well, the question was originally posted on a Parents against Primary Testing Facebook page by a parent who insisted the answer was 46 and deemed the question too hard for students.

Now, of course, 46 is the answer if for some reason the 19 people who got off the train are unaccounted for. What happened to them? I don’t know. I’m trying to solve a math problem, not a missing persons case.

Anyway, the problem was made worse when Twitter user Louise Bloxham shared an image of the problem repeating the wrong answer, and a viral math problem was born.

But really, the answer is 65. Want proof? Let’s see how we get there:

Now this post uses algebra to solve the problem, which got even more parents upset. What 7-year-old knows algebra? Heck, I don’t even like algebra. I like to keep my numbers and letters separate, thank you very much.

But the way I view it, it can be solved by using simple addition and subtraction. If you take 19 and subtract 17, that’s two people, add that to 63 and you have… Wait. I ran out of fingers.

Regardless, all of the people who posted about the answer being 46 have since deleted their posts in embarrassment, so I think we can put this controversy to rest. And now we can tackle the real question: Why do math writers have an obsession with trains?

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