How ISPs Violate the Laws of Mathematics

By | January 28, 2020

This video is based on joke presentation I
gave last year. I was recently on the phone with an internet
service provider whose name shall remain unspoken because they promised me their mediocre internet
services for one price and then charged me another price . And you may not be surprised
to hear that price B was greater than price A. So I was on the phone to see if I could
get B to equal to A. Which reminds me of the first of the axioms
of Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory. For those of you who don’t know, Zermelo-Fraenkel
set theory is the, how shall I put it – pedantry? that forms the foundation of modern mathematics. And to get a good idea, you only really need
to know two things about it: – it exists (that’s a math joke, though
I guess so is this whole talk) – and, using the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms,
the number 2 is written like this , which in English reads “the set that contains
the set that contains only the set containing nothing as well as the set containing nothing”. I can see the logicians in the audience are
loving this. Ok, so the first axiom of Zermelo-Fraenkel
set theory says that two sets are equal if they have the same elements. However, the internet company that shall not
be named was providing the same set of services for different prices – . So B≠A, but they
both contain the same set of services… this is a violation the first axiom of Zermelo-Fraenkel
set theory. At this point, perhaps, I should have been
worried. But I continued nevertheless. I again asked for price A. And they replied: “The option we offered
IS all that we can offer.” I was horrified. For, you see, the second axiom of Zermelo-Fraenkel
set theory implies that a set cannot be a member of itself, and yet they had just said
that the set of all options they could offer was the same as the option they offered, which
clearly must be contained in the set of all options they could offer. And thus they violated the second axiom upon
which modern mathematics is built. “Let me speak to your manager” I said,
which is code for “I think your working axiomatic system is crap.” But, as expected, the manager did not immediately
improve the situation. Just so we’re all on the same page, I simply
wanted internet for the promised price A, let’s say, $40, but had been charged B,
say, $50 for the same service. And I had been told that “$50 is the best
offer they can make.” The manager promptly offered me internet,
PLUS a home wifi router, for $45. You might think this is an improvement, as
did I until I asked if I could have the offer of internet plus router, but hold the router,
and I was told “No.” The third axiom of Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory
was not happy with that. Because you’re supposed to be able to make
a subset out of elements of a set, and have that also be a set, but apparently not in
the world of ISPs. This also violates axiom 6 , by the way. The fifth axiom , combining existing sets
together into new sets – well, I have to give it to the internet companies; they’ve
got this down pat: they call it “bundling”. The violation of the seventh Axiom, the axiom
of infinity, is, to be honest, more a criticism of modern mathematics than telecommunication
companies (though they still violate it). Speaking as a physicist, I can tell you that
internet service providers and any other physical thing in our apparently non-continuous, finite-sized
observable universe – they can’t have an infinite amount of anything. I can’t even say they have an infinite absence
of customer service, because that would require the possibility of an infinite amount for
them to be lacking. But there was still something bugging me – the
manager told me that the offer for $45 was comprised of internet for $40 a month, plus
5 bucks a month for the router. So breaking things down: the possible monthly
services provided include {internet for $40, internet for $50, TV, phone, and wifi router
for $5}. Now, it was clear that “internet for $40”
was an element of the set called “internet plus router”, and “internet plus router”
was an element of “possible service combinations”, while “internet for $40”, on its own,
was not. And yet, the possible service combinations
should include all possible combinations of services, which Zermelo-Fraenkel would call
the power set. And thus I realized that the 8th axiom was
violated (and, also, the 4th). I think at this point we’d hit all 8 axioms,
and my internet company violated 7 out of 8 – but as all of you doubtless know, the
standard Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms often come packaged with a 9th axiom. And you need only see the name to know this
axiom is seriously violated by telecommunications companies. And so, I almost despaired, except despair
can’t be constructed without the Axiom schema of specification . And then I remembered something important:
even if all of the axioms I hold dear are violated, that doesn’t mean there’s no
logic or reason remaining. What’s “true” in the mathematical world
depends on what underlying axioms you take to be true. So I said “Hang on,” and took a deep breath. “Can I get the 45 dollar option, which consists
of internet for $40 and a router for 5 bucks a month, and then just send you back the router
so I don’t have to pay for it?” And you know what the guy from the internet
company told me? He told me what every scheming mathematician
wants to hear from their axioms: “I can’t tell you you can’t do that.” The End This story is partly based on the truth (I’ll
leave you to figure out which parts), and I first told it at the festival of Bad Ad-Hoc
Hypotheses (BAHFest), where the idea is to listen to crazy made up scientific theories
in the hope that we’ll be, well, both entertained, and more aware of how science actually works. And you can listen to more entertaining stories
(science and otherwise) on Audible, this video’s sponsor. Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks
on the planet, including best-sellers, mysteries, memoirs, originals, and science books – I
very much enjoyed “How Not To Be Wrong”, by Jordan Ellenberg, a more correct but similarly
sarcastic book about how to use simple math to not be wrong (it has plenty of fascinating
stories of big mistakes that have been made because people misused math). To start listening with a 30-day trial, go
to or text ‘minutephysics’ to 500500 and you can choose 1 audiobook and
2 audible originals each month. Again, that’s
or text ‘minutephysics’ to 500500, and thanks to Audible for supporting MinutePhysics.

100 thoughts on “How ISPs Violate the Laws of Mathematics

  1. DA_COP Reee Post author

    What is this… you really took math into reality. Trees sad.

  2. Bryce Post author

    All logic you thought you had goes out the window when you call an phone/internet provider

  3. Pieter Maes Post author

    Also for our ISP's here, Unlimited, is actually Limited… go figure..

  4. TheVergile Post author

    no law of physics was hurt in the making of this video. all scenes were performed by trained professionals. dont try at home

  5. TheCptnOf Fail Post author

    I went through the same thing. Except removing the phone line we signed up with raised the bill by $20.
    And we bought our own modem that we could not plug the phone into. So despite returning the modem they continued to charge for it because clearly we must still have it. Despite the fact that multiple times it was confirmed by multiple people that it had been returned and every singe one being confused by it, we were still charged every month for the modem for two years. In the end they game us a month free service. So we got about half the money back.

  6. Scoot Amazing Post author

    Give it a year and your bill will be 100 dollars one day.

  7. Hostage Murderer Post author

    I deal with charter and they are a group of annoying, lying, bloodsucking bastards

  8. Hyper Bhola Post author

    the other day, I was discussing with my gf about a weird caller , then she said. "No way!!!" and I said "yeahhhhhhhhhh shit just got real". this shit happened in the set {}.

  9. DuffinThe Muffin Post author

    I have no idea what you were saying through just about all of this video other than isp bad, very informative

  10. Rudyanto Basri Post author

    Internet Provider: $50
    Henry: This Video
    Internet Provider: Pshh… What a nerd

  11. CrOnOs Post author

    lol i just pay 12 euros for a month of illimited internet access and you just paid 40 dollars for a crap service
    better be in europe internet addict's 🙂

  12. Alexandru Tănase Post author

    I'm a translator and I study foreign languages, why do I even watch this?
    I suppose I will get one day a contract involving a mathematics paper, so who knows

  13. Jonathan Ciesla Post author

    Advertisements where they actually teach you how to read people's minds on those who find you too quiet are back.

  14. CalicifierWolf Post author

    I worked for over 500 ISP's that outsourced their work to us. It was hell, and we had to talk in grey areas and shady business. Like "can I just return the router" scenarios, I had to lead people with questions to what they wanted. "So you said you wanted x, but currently are not getting it, what would you like to ask for so I can help you."

  15. Katie and Jared Coates Post author


    At least we agree spectrum sucks all the asses.

  16. lily pad Post author

    second axiom is not violated, in new foundations set theory.

  17. Mauren Post author

    They break the mathematical laws of my bank account that’s for sure.

  18. shootie Post author

    It’s treu we have to watch out for that stupid YouTuber and his map game videos, he might even grow bigger than isorrowproductions

  19. Martin Godinez Post author

    "I can't tell you you can't do that"
    Guess what , he got you. Once you return the router they're still going to charge you $45 lol.

  20. Iron Man Post author

    You can get them to play nice, you just have to threaten to leave to another company. They’ll chop your bill in half real quick.

  21. blink1821 Post author

    This is such a cringy stretch of the fundamental axioms of set theory it makes me sick. Videos like this get shared by people who have no idea what he’s talking about, because they feel it will make them look smart. No, If you share this, you look like a moron to anybody who knows any set theory. This is a guy who is taking mathematical definitions and warping them into an “OMG ISP bad!!!” narrative, while making idiot college and high school students gush because this is their first encounter with axiomatic logic. As a published mathematician, I see your BS. But good for you, because the SEO for YouTube will serve this video very well. Disgusting and a disgrace to actual education

  22. Scott Hannan Post author

    ‘On a waiter’s check pad,’ said Slartibartfast, 'reality and unreality collide on such a fundamental level that each becomes the other and anything is possible, within certain parameters’

    Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe, and Everything

  23. Scott Hannan Post author

    Bistromathics, to put it simply, is a revolutionary new way of understanding numbers. Einstein realised that space is not absolute, but merely depended on the observers movement in space. Likewise, he realised time is not absolute but merely depended on observers movements in time. Bistromathics, in the most basic sense, is the realisation that numbers are not absolute, but merely depend on the observers movement in restaurants.

  24. AvangionQ Post author

    Welcome to business in the US, where corporations will nickel and dime you, then wonder why you're angry with them.

  25. Blueprint Post author

    So, adding a router subtracts 5 dollars from the price without a router? Ask for two routers!

  26. jules 03 Post author

    The anime guy asking to his step sister if he can **** her

    The sister : I can't tell you you can't do that

  27. Jevon S Post author

    Sue charter spectrum for 1. False advertising and 2. Duh…..

  28. 3rdHalf Post author

    I have ISP that i have used for coupple years now. Last year they upgraded their infrastructure and suggested me to upgrade from 200mbps – 21€ a month to 500mbps – 23€. I don't really care about faster internet, so I ignored their offer.
    Guess what they did? They reduced my current plan to 19€ a month.

  29. Kevin Post author

    I went from a video about how JFK handles illegal fruit to this

  30. Christopher Crow Post author

    I'm not really a math guy, but youtube algorithm apparently says I should be. That being said I understand very little of this video and still a bit unclear what the axiom thingies are/mean. That being said I do understand social systems and I believe this is one of the smartest ways to say FU to a type of company we all generally dislike.

  31. McAkkeezz Post author

    Yeah that's cool but in Finland we have this thing called Elisa Saunalahti huoleton 4G super for only 29.90 per month

  32. Gypsy JR Post author

    Too funny! Like any ISPs I've ever dealt with could begin to understand this.

  33. David Neal Lambson Post author

    Watch the beginning in slow mow and you will see the internet provider. 😉

  34. Daniel Hermes Post author

    0:08 Charter Spectrum.

    I didn't speak it out load🤷🏽‍♂️

  35. Samuel Tukua Post author

    I spent a year taking a Uni course in set theory JUST so I could understand this video. Absolutely fantastic btw.

  36. 1504MBR 1504MBR Post author

    Tmobile does the same thing! Amazing how math applies to all , except to companies too big to give a shit. Its because they hire Indian workers who dont know math and most of the public who dont understand their bs explanations.

  37. Edwin CC Vital Post author

    nothing prevents you from having A=>C and B=>C with A≠B

  38. Striker977 Post author

    Isnt that just the tax you pay for using the service ?

  39. Bumnapper Fannyfartle Post author

    Ya he lost me like immediately as he started explaining the theory

  40. Kenny Gillis Post author

    Xfinity jacked my price up because my "intro period" ended. I called up and canceled my service. I waited five minutes, and then called their sales line. They offered me the intro rate. When I told the person what I did, she said "you're smart, that's what you're supposed to do." They just bank on you putting your internet on auto-pay and not bothering to go through the trouble of jumping through the hoops to get the lower plan. Hell, if enough people just let that first upcharged bill hit before fixing it, they've made millions of extra dollars.

  41. Mrittika Murmu Post author

    My review : A serious joke which is conceptually not really a joke.
    ( Just imagine arguing with a shopkeeper in this manner of logic. What a scenario will it be! ).

  42. narancia ghirga Post author

    Who would win
    Zermelo-franko set theory or
    Some wifi guy

  43. Maurício Pessoa Post author

    Oh that reminds me when my ISP sold me Internet + some services. I asked them if I could remove the services that I wasn't using and get a discount, but then they said "no, if you remove the services, your internet price will rise to the same amount you're currently paying".

  44. Dan T Post author

    At first I didn't understand anything, but then I realized this is exactly how I tend to think, generally.

  45. Aaron Easterling Post author

    Has flashback of discrete math final that was solely probability, multiple choice, AND NO partial credit

  46. Marcel Dornier Post author

    You saying surreals are standard way to write numbers in zf?

  47. Johusep Lopez Post author

    0:04 – Time Warner "Spectrum"….

    Those filthy rich Hebrews again….

  48. Nathan Smith Post author

    They want the router as part of the set because it's a limited time offer and then they start charging you more than $50

    At least it's not as bad as the famous 'Verizon Math'… as for not offering infinity… I have a screenshot of a bandwidth test when they were doing maintenance and my router was fully open to the internet and unrestricted. It actually says, 'Your speed- Infinite'. Hasn't ever been that good again. 🙁

    What bugs me more is that this isn't against civil laws. (Well, it may be. NYS is suing Spectrum right now for violating the terms of their merger with TW).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *