It’s been a month since I posted last, and this seems a strange way to break back into the posting habit but: You should boycott Pizza Hut. Here’s why:

That’s a quick screen capture from a commercial that started running on various websites this month (I stumbled across it on ESPN.com). There is apparently a 30-second version on Hulu.

Readers of this blog need no explanation as to why this is worth a boycott of Pizza Hut. It’s not really a big deal. But, rather, it’s yet another small step that a high-profile person or organization has taken towards making math, and by extension all the STEM disciplines, less likely to be taken seriously by the general public and in particular young people. And it’s another little paper cut for anti-intellectualism in general that will eventually bleed us all to death.

Big companies have no business making themselves part of the problem, and every opportunity to become part of the solution. Therefore I am asking anybody who feels like I do about this commercial to boycott Pizza Hut until they (1) pull the advertisement, (2) apologize, and (3) donate a modest but substantial sum of money — say the approximate revenue they gained from running this ad — to a nonprofit organization that supports STEM education. In particular, if you are a teacher, share this post with your colleagues and administrators and encourage a school-wide boycott of Pizza Hut for school parties, trips, etc.

I’ve been beating this to death in my Twitter stream, and I’ve set up a Facebook group for people to rally around. The YouTube video has gotten upwards of 8000 views and over 50 comments since I posted it this past Sunday, so I think there is a lot of common cause happening here. Go to it!

UPDATE: Pizza Hut responded while I was typing this post. Check the wall of the Facebook group. It’s a start.

What if the commercial went like this…”Who likes to read? We will tell you how much you owe. Reading is for nerds. If you don’t like math, we will include your tip on the bill. If you have problems counting, we will pull the money out of your wallet.”

If you couldn’t read, you would be too embarrassed to admit it. If you can’t do math, just throw your hands up and people will forgive you because they don’t understand math either.

Let’s give Pizza Hut a combination engineering-culinary-mathematical modeling problem:

Perform a set of measurements to create a function model for cooking temperature and cooking time for the most uniformly cooked pizzas based on diameter of the pizza. How do the useful temperatures and times depend on the diameter of the pizza? Is there an ideal diameter for each temperature?

What if the commercial went like this…”Who likes to read? We will tell you how much you owe. Reading is for nerds. If you don’t like math, we will include your tip on the bill. If you have problems counting, we will pull the money out of your wallet.”

If you couldn’t read, you would be too embarrassed to admit it. If you can’t do math, just throw your hands up and people will forgive you because they don’t understand math either.

I agree that the ad was a very bad corporate decision. And Pizza Hut’s knee-jerk response (just having fun, folks!) made things worse.

Oh, well, their pizza sucked anyway, and I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place.

I’m on it.

Let’s give Pizza Hut a combination engineering-culinary-mathematical modeling problem:

Perform a set of measurements to create a function model for cooking temperature and cooking time for the most uniformly cooked pizzas based on diameter of the pizza. How do the useful temperatures and times depend on the diameter of the pizza? Is there an ideal diameter for each temperature?