Donald Trump Jr. May Not Have A Grasp of Basic Math, According to This Tweet

Donald Trump Jr.
Donald Trump Jr. liked conspiracy theory comments. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Twitter users are roasting Donald Trump Jr. after he flaunted his apparent misunderstanding of basic math in a Tuesday tweet.

The eldest Trump child had attempted to make a snarky remark about an October 2015 Chicago Tribune headline, "Five Years Into Common Core, Many ACT Scores Below Average"—but ended up flunking a middle school math test instead.

"I would imagine that 50 percent are below average...that's how math works," Trump Jr. wrote. "The real question is what is the average now vs. before Common Core."

I would imagine that 50% are below average... that's how math works. The real question is what is average now vs before common core.

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 31, 2017

The problem is, that's not how math works.

As some Twitter users pointed out, Trump Jr. seemed to be mixing up "mean" and "median." If the first son wanted to calculate mean, he would add up all of the test scores and divide them by how many there were. But he'd get the median by putting all of the test scores in order, from smallest to biggest, and finding the one that's exactly in the middle, meaning 50 percent of the scores would fall on either side of it.

In other words, if Trump Jr. had said "median" instead of "average," he would have been right.

If you wanted to get technical, mean, median and mode are all types of averages, but Trump Jr. can't get away on a technicality with this one.

"What Trump Jr. said is true for one definition of 'average,' but not true for the other two," Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, told Newsweek. "If I were a grader, that's not a correct answer on my exam."

50% are below the *median*, sunshine.

— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) October 31, 2017

Wolfers said he has noticed a kind of fundamental misunderstanding about the difference between mean and median running through the Trump administration. President Donald Trump's current tax proposal, for example, promises a $4,000 raise to the average American family.

"When you give a tax cut to the extremely rich, on average it has a big effect on the mean [American family] and no effect on the median [American family]," Wolfers explained. He added that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a similar mistake when at Monday's press conference she attempted to explain Trump's tax plan with a convoluted analogy about 10 journalists splitting a $100 bar tab after a night out.

"My guess is that Trump Jr. didn't mean anything sophisticated by his tweet—he just thought he was being clever," Wolfers said. "But in fact, what he tweeted wasn't entirely accurate."

It's not the first time a Trump family member has shown a poor understanding of basic middle school skills. Ivanka Trump has been known to struggle with vocabulary words like albeit, otherwise and relative. And just on Monday, the eldest Trump daughter admitted she didn't understand how birthdays worked, calling back to the time when she wished her son Theodore a "happy birthday" when he turned eight months old.

The president himself might be able to use a middle school–level geography and United States history lesson, as earlier this month it seemed to slip his mind he is also president of the U.S. Virgin Islands. And the president also had trouble locating Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.