Monday, December 20, 2010

the erin crabtree model of indicated apathy

i could care less about this. i could care so much less.
by which i mean, of course, that i care quite a bit.

you see, i love math. i don't think you understand. i LOVE math. i also LOVE grammar. the fusion of these two passions, and my desire to defend their honour, has forged a marriage of sorts. a beautiful marriage which you are about to see.

people like to blaspheme in the face of the english language. as many of you are well aware, i could rant about this for . . . a very large amount of time. but for today, i am going to address only one of the symptoms that plagues our sickly generation. one i think most of us are aware of at this point, but which still rages feverishly on in the vocabulary of americans.

i think you know what i am talking about:

"i could care less."

but fear not, fellow americans. i have created the ultimate weapon to combat the misuse of english: mathematical representations of english.

so, without further ado (which, by the way, i always want to spell as adieu), i present to you
the erin crabtree model of indicated apathy:
(x being the amount one cares)
I could care less: 0 < x ≤ ∞
(all we can reasonably surmise from this statement is that x, or the amount one cares, is greater than the minimum (zero). one does indeed care to some degree, a degree which could in fact be infinite.)

I couldn't care less: x = 0
(this statement is much clearer in that it effectively equates the amount of caring to the minimum, or zero.)
another way to say this: I do not care: x = 0

My apathy is infinite: ~x = ∞
(this shall be read as "not x equals infinity." this carries nearly the same meaning as the two previous claims, but with perhaps more gusto. it was included because i desperately wanted to put negative infinity in here somewhere, but it didn't apply, as one can't logically care a negative amount. to care a negative amount would be caring, simply in the reverse direction. this does raise questions about if it is possible for the lack of something to be infinite. can apathy be infinite? for the purposes of this model, i hold that it can.)

I could care more: 0 ≤ x < ∞
(all right, so no one but me really says this, but i like it. it's not much clearer than the original offender, but it does allow for the possibility of x being zero and specifies that one does not care the maximum possible amount. not perfect, but a bit closer to the intended meaning, i daresay.)

and while we're on that topic: many, when confronted with the error of their ways, claim they meant what they said. "yeah, i could care less. i do care some, just not very much."

well, don't worry. i've come up with a foolproof way that you can say what you mean:

I could care less, but only marginally. I could care exponentially more: 0 < x « ∞

as you can see, my friends, there is a multitude of options. when in doubt, please consider what you are trying to say, scan the list, and choose wisely. (and be sure to double-check your work!)

photo credits to stevie shale: my first rudimentary explanation of this theory


  1. I adore you.

    And I could care less about this blog posting. A lot less. Mostly because it's the best thing ever and I can't stop caring about it!

    Thank you for combining math and grammar. Too many people insist that they remain separate, when really, they make so much sense together.

    Next, I challenge you to make sense of the 'well-known' phrase: "Oh, she hadn't better dare!"

  2. Meaningful to say the least, this model makes SENSE. I too have seen this in society and counted as another example of "it's the thought that counts," Only with a negative connotation. How dare you tell me you have a fraction of care in such a harmful manner?

  3. thank you both immensely. feel free to use this as an explanation when you encounter this error. i plan to someday print it on business cards that i carry with me.