Recently I had a question on HSM regarding mathematicians of Amish origin. But, I was heavily downvoted because the people there did not think my question mattered. They believed that the importance of an Amish mathematician was as little as a mathematician who "liked to wear polka-dotted socks". However, looking at HSM there are many posts about female mathematicians, mathematicians who never went to university, etc. So, what was the issue with a question about Amish mathematicians? The problem is that nobody actually knows a single Amish mathematician. If you do a quick google search, you will not find any mention of one, but you will find data from social scientists which suggests that Amish score in the 15th percentile in mathematics testing.

After so many downvotes and being told that my question was stupid, I decided to post this as my answer to my question:

"Apparently on this website you can't ask questions about groups of people who are generally and for the most part ignored by the countries in which they reside. It is better to assume that mathematicians come from all walks of life and never actually discuss these cultures which are represented in mainstream media so incorrectly. We must dismiss all questions based out of general interest. Questions which could potentially be important are therefore shunned, due to lack of interest from others in the subject. The social implications of a mathematician coming from an oppressed group such as being a female mathematician, are more important than the social implications of an Amish mathematician. Unfortunately, to gain a better insight into the nature of mathematics, we must rehash old questions about Srinivasa Ramanujan, and claim him as the genius he is for his work in infinite series. However, to ask for information about a mathematician from a group of people who are generally not understood in North America, is suicide. The unfortunate truth is that people generally believe the Amish to be of lower intelligence, with a 1980's paper discussing the test scores of 23 pupils within the Old Order Amish school of thought being at or above the 13th percentile. This was not a stupid question, just a question that nobody has ever thought of, as it is much easier to leave a group of people alone than to ponder their contributions to a field and give recognition to those who may have progressed the field further.

Thank you for reading."

The answer was deleted by the moderators and so were a lot of the comments which were trying to boycott my question. They did however leave a single comment which has now collected 6 upvotes "To me this question is a bit like asking "Are there any (insert lifestyle choice here) mathematicians?" Um...yeah. There are. Is this really the sort of question wanted on this site?" This answer comes from a middle school student who would have no understanding of the Amish lifestyle, as it would be very rare for an Amish individual to study higher level mathematics the fact that she thinks this question is so simple is very disappointing.

You come to a stackexchange because you are told that experts are here that can answer your questions seriously and intellectually. You look to see if your question has been asked before and you do some of your own research. What I've clearly found is that you first off will not get an experts opinion on the question, and secondly, if the question is not a popular culture question it will be downvoted and consequently not answered.

Thus, we come full cirlce. HSM does not have experts on it. It has people who have read a few wikipedia pages on mathematics or science and think they know the history of how it all came together. The stackexchange has forgotten what it is for, and it's not working anymore.

I know this question will be closed, or deleted. But this does not matter, I needed to let other people know about this. A moderator from HSM told me I should post this here. Thank you.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can you support your claim I was heavily downvoted because the people there did not think my question mattered.? $\endgroup$
    – anderstood
    Mar 23, 2017 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @anderstood I could if the moderators did not delete countless comments from individuals who honestly did not think my question mattered. One literally said "why does it matter?" and another said "my thoughts exactly." I had to site various links to other similar questions. I can't substantiate a claim if the mods keep deleting comments. $\endgroup$
    – user5540
    Mar 23, 2017 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


The account you've given above is an extraordinarily one-sided view of what happened over the past 24 hours. There are several things you left out:

  • Version 1 of your question included the passage

    I was watching some amish documentary which mentioned that if you did something bad within the community that you could be shunned for a period of time, I was thinking that this would be great!

    I'd love to be shunned and just to mathematics all of the time. Grow a beard. Never bathe. Drink beer.

    There's no way that can be interpreted without some offense being taken. That description bears as much resemblance to the Amish as a piece of Spam does to a ham sandwich.

  • When people mentioned this to you, you made several quite rude comments, including one particularly colorful obscenity (three times) and a couple rude remarks implying that a young member of the site is not fit to be here. You compared the moderators to "fascists" and made a remark that, in retrospect, looks like it compares "female scientists" to Nazis. All of this violates the Be Nice policy, which guides civil interactions on Stack Exchange.

Your answers were deleted because they did not answer the question you posed. Stack Exchange is not a forum. And we totally understand that this is a bit confusing for people at first. Posting something as an answer that doesn't answer the question is often an honest mistake, and I've got no problem with it at all. You learn and move on and grow.

In the future, please refrain from this sort of behavior. Remarks along the lines of the ones you made are not acceptable under any circumstances. This will not be tolerated.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't this answer a comment ;)? Just sayin' $\endgroup$
    – VicAche
    Mar 25, 2017 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ @VicAche Heh, maybe. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Mar 27, 2017 at 14:17

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