August 20th, 2009
11:42 AM ET

Are you smarter than a second grader?

To quote a friend: "The stupid!  It burns!"

Actress Patricia Heaton, longtime foil to Ray Romano on "Everybody Loves Raymond," is the squirm-inducing subject of the latest viral video spreading across the Internet.  No, she wasn't captured in an unguarded moment by the paparazzi - Heaton was in a television studio, fully aware the audience and the cameras were watching.


The occasion was Monday's celebrity edition of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!"  Just for showing up, Heaton earned $25,000 for her cause - badly-needed medical care in Sierra Leone - and to double the prize, all she had to do was answer a single, second-grade-level math question:

"If a Euro is worth $1.50, five Euros is worth what?"

Her choices were (a) thirty quarters, (b) fifty dimes, (c) seventy nickels, or (d) ninety pennies.

Heaton, who'd already admitted/bragged "I didn't spend enough time in the classroom" as an Ohio State undergrad, immediately began to panic when she saw the question, whining "I can't do math!"  Way to make the Buckeye State proud there, Patty.  Host Regis Philbin tried to help, but from the outset, Heaton seemed more interested in complaining than in trying to answer the question.  At one point, Heaton - who'd begun her appearance by claiming that Midwesterners like her were "smarter" than people on the coasts - told the host "I put everything on credit cards, Regis - I have no idea what this is."  Oh, the pain.

Anyone would get nervous tackling a subject that's not their strong suit on national television.  But for the longest time, Heaton not only didn't know the answer, she didn't seem to know how to figure it out.  She even phoned her husband, because "he's European."  Right, because it was the Euros thing that made it hard.  Finally, after Regis displayed the patience of Job in guiding her through the question, she figured out that $1.50 times five is $7.50 (earning an ovation from the audience) and then, going through all of the answers, that thirty quarters was also $7.50 (another ovation).

Heaton is far from the first celeb to make herself look foolish for a good cause.  But as a parent in California, where budget cuts are primed to drop the state to 50th (that's out of 50, Patricia) in per-student spending for education, the message that being so remarkably clueless in a basic subject is something to laugh about - not to mention far less important than being famous - made me cringe.

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  1. Tom Ott

    Jim Meenan-– Do you consider all republican's stupid?

    October 19, 2009 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe Six Pack too

    ClubQBall – you are 100% correct. Sadly, 100% correct.

    August 21, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dean

    As an English instructor at a two-year career college, I am more than willing to join the chorus of complaints regarding our educational system: I am constantly amazed that young adults who graduated from high school are unable to construct a decent sentence. However, as a person of at least average intelligence who suffers from math phobia/anxiety, I can completely sympathize with Heaton. Clearly, she is not a stupid woman. She is articulate; she has talent. But at that moment, as a self-admitted math-phobe, under the hot lights of the TV studio, with cameras pointing at her, and a large studio audience awaiting her answer, she panicked. I, too, would have panicked.

    Yes, we should decry the fact that the United States' educational system is in a bad way and that students are no longer being taught the fundamentals that earlier generations were taught–but please recognize that there's a difference between ignorance/stupidity and the anxiety that many people suffer when it comes to doing a math problem in their head.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ClubQBall

    It's FUNDAMENTAL math, people. The article SPECIFICALLY states that it's a SECOND-GRADE level math question. If a forty-nine year old person – actress or not – CANNOT answer a question such as this, then the state of this country is in extremely dire conditions.

    For all of you keyboard critics out there spouting off and nattering on about "Awww, Let's give her a break, she's an actress." or saying things like, "What would YOU do in front of a million people with bright lights and applause?", I say this:

    Shame on you. This is EXACTLY the kind of apathetic attitude that has caused this country to fall so far from grace. No wonder our children are looked at as incapable of competing with children from countries like Japan and Germany and India.

    Let me reiterate my points from yesterday: if an adult male (twenty-something) in a retail store CANNOT make accurate change from a $100.00 bill (the total amount due was $82.37) without using a calculator or cash register, then there is something very wrong with our educational system. (By the way, for those of you who are having issues solving my own math question, the answer is $17.63 in change.) It took the cashier almost ten minutes to figure this out.

    So yeah, you people feel free to sit there in front of your keyboards and take me to task for labeling our society a nation of misfits and uneducated fools. Take a look around you, people. You moan and groan and gnash your teeth because so many jobs are being taken away from us and out-sourced to other countries. Why do you suppose that is? Economics and cheap labor are the main reasons, of course. But it's all owing to the fact that so many of our younger generations (Gen X'ers, Gen Y'ers, etc.) are woefully inept and ignorant and are NOT prepared for this new world. For crying out loud, we're raising a generation of "Do you want fries with that?" burger flippers! Are you people not seeing this? Are your heads (minds) shoved so far in the veritable sand that you've lost sight of the fact that we were once a TRUE world power, but are nothing more than a laughing-stock in the eyes of many nations? Really?

    I take immense pride in being able to speak intelligently; rationalize with reason, thought, and judgment; comprehend complex scientific data; and above all, able to solve simple mathematical equations without looking like a complete simpleton. I'm GLAD my Dad used to make me come home from school and sit down at the dining room table and study, even when I had no homework. I'm THRILLED that he grounded me if I brought home anything less than a 'B+' on my report cards. I'm ECSTATIC that my mother and father loved me enough to give me the desire and the knowledge and the discipline to become a success.

    If you don't like my views, well, guess what? That's fine. You're entitled to disagree with me just as I am entitled to disagree with you in turn. For those of you taking me to task for various things throughout my posts, I has some advice for you: GO LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Take a good, long look at your own lives and at the things you have accomplished. How have YOU helped this society? How have YOU contributed to our success? What are YOU doing to help make our nation a better place and more equipped to deal with our ever-changing roles?

    Timmy O'Toole, Rod, Andy, Peter, Heidi, and football – I dedicate the above to the six of you. In your own special way, each of you has given weight to my words and thoughts. I thank you for playing the role of the ignorant, posturing Internet bully.

    You just proved my point regarding how sad a shape our country is in ... and just how insignificant we've become to the world at large.

    Bless you.

    August 21, 2009 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dina

    Patricia panicked and her mind went blank. That's all there is to it, I think. I always got A's in my math classes. I can do math so well if I have a pen and paper to solve the problem. People are like that sometimes. I understand things better when they are in writing. Maybe she's like that too. Let's give her a break.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jason

    She's an actress, not a scholar, get over it. when did CNN stop reporting the news, and start writing stories only about those the writers want to bash? If you ask me, it wasn't the internet that caused the death of the newspaper, it's the writers that stopped focusing on news, and started creating stories of their own.

    August 20, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ClubQBall

    @ Timmy O'Toole – I have no need nor desire to "make up" anything about myself. If you'd like proof of what I say about myself, I have no problems proving it to you, sir.

    You can send an e-mail to requesting copies of my educational and professional history and experiences and I'll be more than happy to send it to you.

    This goes for anyone on here.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jackie in Dallas


    Because someone born in the mid forties was probably too old to be a hippie? The Summer of Love (height of the Hippie Era) was 1969. Anyone who was born in 1946, and didn't make it to college until the late 60s was in their 20s. I'm no math whiz (see my first comment above), but 1969 minus 1946 = 23, which would mean that they missed the hippie era by a hair (or several inches of hair!). Besides, haven't you noticed that a lot of politicians born roughly in the years of 1946-1949 were in Vietnam in the late 60s and didn't usually go to college until they had the G.I. Bill? Many came back suffering from what we now call post-tramatic shock. Many became very conservative, or went to the opposite extreme. The ones who went to the opposite extreme rarely went into politics (with the possible exception of Sonny Bono), the conservatives would be just the opposite of groovy, peace-loving difference makers!

    August 20, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ClubQBall

    @ Jackie in Dallas – OOHRAH. =) I know "The Silent Spring" quite well. May you continue to see progress in those causes. and I truly applaud you for sticking by your commitment to education. We need more like you ... for you and your peers are the TRUE heroes of this country in my opinion.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Timmy O'Toole

    ClubQBall – I did read your initial post, and I was trying to refute your statement that the education of 1969-1975 was somehow better than now, as in more fundamentally sound. My daughter is seven, and she can answer that question. It takes her just as long, and probably longer under bright lights. My point was that the good old days (of which I have fond memories as well) is not quite what we remembered it as being. Education now is much more advanced than it was twenty years ago, let alone 40. And I say this as... oh, wait, maybe I can make up some credentials to make me appear smarter.
    If I am a fool, a complete and utter fool, at least I have some idea of the reality of the time in which I live, and suck the milk off the teat of yesteryear.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jackie in Dallas


    Pleased to meet you..I'm Jackie, and live in Dallas. I was born in 1950, graduated high school in 1968, college in 1971, spent four years in the Air Force developing the ASVAB (military folks know what that is, the rest don't need to), and committed in my college years to environmental causes, civil rights, women's rights, and put my life (literally) on the line for those causes. I STILL do. I first read Rachel Carson's "The Silent Spring" when I was 14, and believe we are seeing a lot of what she said come true. I am still committed to education, to the causes I took up in years 1967-1971, am glad to see some progress in them, and have taken up even more of them, instead of being less committed.

    Yes, a lot of the counterculture generation became the yuppies and conservatives of today, but if you read enough history, you will see that that type of reactive behavior happens to a lot of people as they age.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Langdon Alger

    Somebody answer me this...if the "hippie culture" was so great, how is it that presidents born in the forties were so bad. Surely any president born in 1946 and went to college in the late sixties would be a groovy, peace-loving, difference maker.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jackie in Dallas


    You are the pot calling the kettle black...while Dina may have misspelled "dumb," you used the word "your" (possessive) instead of the proper contraction, "you're" for you are! Let's face it, blogging is a place where people are trying to express an opinion or question something someone else has said. It would be nice if we had spelling and grammar checkers, but we don't. While consistently using incorrect grammar or bad spelling distracts others from what you are trying to say, that does not invalidate the meaning of what is being said. Now, stop being judgemental!

    August 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ClubQBall

    @ Timmy O'Toole (and the rest of your ilk) – I highly suggest that you intellectually-challenged individuals go back and re-read my initial post. I mentioned absolutely NOTHING about Patrice Heaton. Not a word was said about her OR her performance on 'Millionaire'.

    Please read for context and meaning BEFORE you make such an idiotic, unfounded post. You look like a complete and utter fool now, Timmy.


    August 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ClubQBall

    @ Rod and Andy – Actually, I DO do something about it ... every day that I come to work. The Fortune 500 company I mentioned? We design and develop learning software for toddlers, pre-schoolers, elementary-age children, and all the way up through high school. I also teach Sunday School. I speak four languages (aside from English) fluently: Latin, German, Japanese, and Spanish.

    Rod, you express outrage that I'm actually sounding like someone of YOUR generation. Funny, it seems you would be happy – thrilled, even – that a person born at the advent of the digital age would be extolling the virtues of actual "book-learning" and practical experience rather than advocating the usage of those infernal machines. Instead, you sound bitter, jaded, and cynical. Trust me, sir ... my daddy – a simple roughneck in a refinery – made damned sure I knew how to use my brain.

    Next time, please don't automatically assume I'm one of those pocket-protector wearing geeks who can only use calculators and computers. While I graduated with top honors as a programmer, I DO know the basics. I even know how to use a slide rule and an abacus ... CAN YOU SAY THAT DO YOU? Neither one of my parents lived long enough to see me graduate from university. Sadly, they both grew up in the forties; they were true WWII babies. College wasn't important to the working class, blue-collar folks in small Texas towns in the forties, Andy and Rod.

    Y'all mentioned how it's easy to come on here and criticize anonymously. Okay, my name is Quentin Wayne. I was born February 21, 1970. I live in Houston, Texas.

    Pleased to meet you. Was it that crucial to know my name? Really?

    Rather than come on and spew vitriolic hatred at me because I'm actually criticizing the citizens of my country, I would think you people would cease to be sheep ... and actually echo these same thoughts.

    Apparently, I was incorrect.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  16. JC


    ". . . your an idiot" is incorrect. "Your" is a possessive pronoun and can't work as the subject of a sentence. You meant to say ". . . you are an idiot" or ". . . you're an idiot."

    By the way, you're an idiot.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Jackie in Dallas

    By the way, as "an old hippie," the idiot who made the comment on them is the real numerical idiot! To be a hippie means that you were at least a teenager in the mid to late 60s to mid 70s, which would mean that you were born in the late, late 40s or early to mid 50s. Being born in 1950, I qualify. Being BORN in the years of the hippie would definitely make you a gen Xer in my book! And yes, I gladly wear the peace sign, the flower power emblem, the miniskirt, the granny glasses, and the Jimi Hendrix t-shirts of the time! And know what 'far out' means, not to mention 'sock it to me,' and 'psychedelic'!

    August 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Tim

    Hey Dina, your an idiot! You misspelled the word dumb. That epitomizes just how stupid America has become...

    August 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  19. ClubQBall

    @ Peter – "Freakin' hippie'.

    Um, no, I'm anything BUT a "freakin' hippie" and I wholeheartedly recommend you put some respect into your tone when you address your elders. I'm a former Marine (Gunnery Sergeant) with sixteen years of active service. A "hippie" I am not. I was born in 1970; graduated in 1988.

    You take me to task for my views? Not a problem. I welcome all opposing views, however, when you can compare YOUR educational achievements achievements to MINE then I'll think about not laughing about how absurd and juvenile and uninformed your opinion seems.

    I graduated Magna Cum Laude from both my high school and my university. I hold two degrees plus I'm working on a third. I work in a Fortune 500 company. I think my education experience is pretty much in your face, buddy.

    Now, getting back to the subject at hand. I actually agree with you ... to a certain extent. Sadly, I think you missed that point while you were attempting to lecture and chastise me.

    We are ALL to blame; each and every one of us. Every time a parent uses a television or a video game as a babysitter – instead of spending meaningful quality time with their child(ren) – then yes, we are contributing to that level of dumbing down our country. Every time we sit in front of our televisions and turn on the same mindless, ignorant, stupid drivel this passes for entertainment, then yes, we are also contributing to the eventual demise of our society as a leading competitor in the world at large. As long as we allow idiocy and ignorance to pervade (and pervert) our lives, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. Hence, this is *WHY* I said "Shame on you".

    I don't think you truly read or comprehended my opinion, Peter ... otherwise, you might have realized part of what I had written was tongue-in-cheek while being quite serious.

    Education begins at HOME. I was fortunate to have two loving parents who cared and who wanted the best for me. I was a nerd AND I played sports. My parents made sure I studied or I was punished and forbidden from participating in baseball and football. Those habits still remain to this day.

    Maybe YOU, Peter, should be less quick to jump to conclusions and actually take a moment to reflect and think about how YOU have failed society, young man. Don't take me to task in a public forum unless you're willing to stare in the mirror and accept the same finger of blame.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Fran

    Thanks for saying that. As you said, there are different kinds of intelligence and learning styles. It is difficult for some people to do the math in their head. For example, my learning style is visual/tactile. I need visuals and manipulatives. I need to write things down or have objects or pictures in front of me to be able to learn or figure things out. Other people can learn just by listening to, say, a lecture without having to write down a word.

    The fact that she couldn't do the math has nothing to do with her intelligence. It likely has to do with her learning style, a learning disability, perhaps ADD. In addition to this she was in front of a live audience and likely became very nervous. Let's not be so quick to judge, people.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Timmy O'Toole

    ClubQBall – Umm fail on the 1969-1970 fundamentals issue. Ms. Heaton was born in 1959 which means she would be going through 4th through 10th grades during those years (give or take a grade). So therefore, she is sort of a contemporary of yours. Why don't we just chalk it up to everybody being different rather than some angry whitewashing cynicism.
    You've been served. I win the Intertubes. Thank you Al Gore!

    August 20, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Bubba

    Peter, wtf are you trying to say? You're, like, proving your own point by being inarticulate? Video game ate your brain?

    August 20, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Brian

    Aretak, you hit the nail on the head. We need to all go to our politicians and yell at them for spending more money then they have to spend. That is something this ENTIRE COUNTRY seems to need to learn. Everything now seems to be put on credit... While credit/loan has its purposes, (i.e. emergency need, purchasing big ticket items like cars, and homes), it is not and never will be able to do anything good for you if you do not have the income to ever pay down the credit.

    Our government has been living on credit since 1835. In the last 60 years we have only twice had 2 years in a row where the federal government's budget had a surplus to pay down the nation's dept, 1948-1949, and 1998-2001. We have had 8 straight years of massive over-budget spending. And to top it off, we are still fighting a recession, which in many ways can only be fought by spending money with less incomming money during that time (all the more reason why we need to get the budget in order and have a surplus budget while we have a good economy so that we can pay off the dept, and have the money to spend when needed to keep the economy going in times of recession).

    August 20, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Jackie in Dallas

    I actually sympathize with Patricia on this. I am numerically dyslexic (which means that I reverse numbers, or sometimes cannot read them correctly), and that question would terrify me! Yet I'm a reasonably bright 59-year old career woman who writes for a living. Oh, and I'm also a member of Mensa.

    She may not have handled it gracefully, but I surely feel her pain!

    August 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  25. JC


    Your paragraph has a few errors. Here's one way it could be revised (I've bracketed the corrections):

    [We] kids born [from] 1969 through 1975 were taught the fundamentals. We were taught how to make proper change. We were taught respect [–] to use good manners and to be respectful of our elders. My generation knew how to create complex sentences and use proper grammar and punctuation[,] by the time we were in the third grade!!!

    Not bad, though.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  26. kd

    California might drop to 50th in per-pupil spending? That would put it behind Mississippi (currently 49th) and Utah (currently 50th). I can't speak for Mississippi, but after living in Utah for the past 16 years – YOU FOLKS IN CALIFORNIA DON'T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Anais

    Someone asked what Patricia Heaton has to do with politics. She is an avowed conservative Catholic who has been outspoken about her views. She probably had questions like this way back in Catholic elementary school! It seems ironic that conservatives who say they are better in some way than other Americans eventually get their comeuppance, as she did with this simple math question. If she had just translated each of the answers into their equivalents, she would not have had a problem with the answer, just as if she had not made that superior comment, she would not have had people react negatively toward her. I feel sorry for her, as she has not yet learned that humility and gratitude go a long way toward fostering good karma in the universe.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Mars

    Maybe she has dyslexia in math.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  29. don thomas

    If Steve from Tampa wishes to converse that all republicans are dumb, he should look in the mirror for even having said such a generalized statement, he then will find who is dumb. Does not matter from politics. He is the dumb one.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Football

    Hey ClubQBall,
    Stop using football players as an example. I not only graduated with a 3.95 in highschool beating out the class president in rank, but I was also the captain of the varsity football team two years in a row. I went to a 4 year university in upstate NY where I proceeded to get a degree in engineering, and play NCAA football. After college I became sucessfully employed for a defense contractor as an engineer. Yeah everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I'm sure compounding factors of stress due to the environment in which she was in, coupled with a blank mind cause by seeing something that triggered a fear response, in this case math, made her lock up.

    Oh yeah, one more thing...

    The prom queen was every bit as hot and amazing on prom night as rumors would have you believe. I know, I lived it.

    Go back to your cave writing on the wall

    August 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Regionguy

    It is my opinion (yeah, first ammendment protection stuff) she is a strict Scientologist, so stuff based on facts, like math, probably is not high on her list.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Rudy

    I dont understand you people...Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses on any number of subjects. Although I wish I could be strong in math, I am not. Stop looking for perfection in these hollywood stars from body weight to brains. They are just the same as you and I...just with more money.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Lorraine

    I dont' think Patricia Heaton is all that dumb. Sure, maths may not be her strong suit and maybe she panicked a bit and couldn't focus on figuring out the answer – BUT, I got the distinct impression that above all she was putting on a show meant to come across as cutsie and endearing. She overdid it.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  34. RobNYNY

    There's actually an easier and faster way to do it: 150 nickles factors as 5 x 150 = 5 x 5 x 30 = 5 x 5 x 5 x 6 = 5 x 5 x 5 x 3 x 2.

    Answer (c) has to be wrong because there has to be a factor of 7 (in 70), (d) is wrong because it has to have 3 x 3 (to get the 9 in 90), and (b) is wrong because there is no factor of 3 in 50. So it has to be (a). Sure enough, 30 quarters is (2 x 3 x 5) x (5 x 5).

    August 20, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Born in 1972

    ClubQBall, excellent.

    You say it all with this paragraph

    The kids born in 1969 through 1975 were taught the fundamentals. We were taught how to make proper change. We were taught respect; to use good manners and to be respectful of our elders. My generation knew how to create complex sentences and use proper grammar and punctuation by the time we were in the third grade!!!

    This paragraph should be framed.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  36. John

    I think the big surprise is that Regis turns out to be a patient and persistent teacher. He guided Ms Heaton through the problem space and showed her how to eliminate potential answers. Yes, he did that a lot in the older version of the show, before the time limits were imposed. However, Regis had an especially unmotivated and unconfident student in this case. He pulled it off anyway. It may be his job, or maybe not. But he did it. Of course, the producer does not impose time limits on celebs. Oh that the pupil:teacher ratio could be as nice as 1:1 in the real world!

    August 20, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  37. JC

    Ms. Heaton is probably not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, when it comes to arithmetic. So she panicked. I dare say that all of us can be viewed as dimwits, by a lot of people, when it comes to certain things.

    My brother is a professor at the California Institute of Technology and writes books and papers on quantum mechanics, but the guy would have a panic attack if he were told to scramble an egg.

    I'd say the volume of stupidity and the volume of brilliance, in this country and around the world, have been pretty much the same, since day one.

    And don't be too quick to condemn the educational level of today's kids. If you're over 40, try taking the SAT, right now. You'd be lucky to score much higher than the dumbest jock.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  38. SonnyCrocket

    HaHaHa! I feel dumber for having read these posts!

    August 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  39. iamevilhomer

    so how come no one's ragging on the European husband who couldn't figure it out?

    August 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  40. A Ray

    What pressure? The "ordinary people" who are the usual contestants have to deal with timers on the questions, and the fact that they don't normally spend hours in front of a camera and audience. If anything, she should have had LESS pressure than those regular people who manage to answer 10 or so of the questions without having the benefit of being a stage presence in the first place, and with that timer ticking down in front of them on the screen.

    And folks, SHE didn't donate anything to her charity – the show/network did. She got some free publicity and her charity got some money thanks to the show, its sponsors, and the network. Even Wynonna Judd admitted she was hoping to push her new CD during her spot. So let's not go too overboard on her so-called altruism as excusing her poor showing (mathematically or in attitude).

    August 20, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  41. The Truth

    And people wonder how the financial mess happened!

    I can understand brain lock doing equations with the pressure, but the real sad part is she did not even need to do any math to figure out the answer. She did not even try to do anything, didn't even make an assumption something worth $1.50 and you have 5 of them the total would be higher than $5. How does she manage to shop? Is she one of those who has everything rung up at the cashier and then realizes what she is paying? Simple basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division should be able to be done in your head. That is a requirement to move up one of the grades in grade school, or least it use to be. Hold people (kids) accountable can't meet the requirements to move up, then they don't move up period.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Steve in Tampa

    Heaton is obviously stupid. She's also a hard-core Republican. That pretty much says it all.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Charles

    Kids aren't learning because the teachers are products of the Education Dept at their respective institutions, rather than the real subjects that they claim to be qualified to teach.

    Elementary and Middle School science education is almost completely devoid of math, btw, and thus it really is boring ... the language of science is math.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Michael

    It is about reacting under pressure. Most people can do the fractions but reacting in a given situation is really what is being tested. Patricia despite all her history of being on screen has had the benefit of retakes and this live show caught her and made her really squirm under pressure.

    It is just good to see the human side of life in the stars, why we watch and why we have so much fun the day after.

    Everyone that knows what is wrong with the world really just needs to take the time to fix one little bit of it where they can and that should make for some real change instead of constant online bellyaching.

    Change the channel and make a life.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Cheryl, NH

    At least she got there...did you see Kelly Pickler on "Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader?" Ha ha ha, now that was an example of lacking education! I believe her comment was something like "Hungary (pronounced hungry by Miss Pickler) is a country? Get outa here!" I don't have to agree with Ms. Heaton's politics to give her the benefit of the doubt, none of you have ever had a "senior moment"? Please spare us the wholier than thou crap.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Bob

    Who thinks George W. Bush could have answered this question? Anybody ..... ? He probably would have asked what a Euro is.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Linda

    Don't worry about it were playing for your charity!!
    I watched the show & you were under pressure....stuff happens,
    pat yourself on the back for donating $$$ Great T.V.

    Everett, WA

    August 20, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  48. A_professor

    Good for her getting it right! I agree about the joy of discovery. Math phobia is real and slamming her for having it does nothing to help the cause. She did get it right in the end because she isn't stupid and she CAN do math. She just didn't know she could.

    I get this all the time with students, especially women. Once you get past the phobia, they really can do the math.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Greg in Houston

    She's a right wing nut job so it figures that is about how well she is educated. I'm surprised she wasn't too busy preparing her "Death Panel" infomercial for AM radio.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  50. kat

    This is why I feel bad for the US education system. There is no basic, foundation for a person to graduate.
    We don't need a healthcare reform, we need an education reform!!!!

    August 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Ann Marie

    Come on Rebecca, so President Obama is bright because he went to Harvard? He must be bright because I always thought there were 50 states but he must know what he is talking about when he said there were 57 states. Or maybe he was just tired and flustered and made a mistake like all human beings – including Ms. Heaton.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Heidi

    Its like saying donuts and mcdonalds are at fault for making me fat.

    Im tired of people blame on the educational system. East Coast vs West Coast?...give me a break! School has little influence in what makes you or your children smart. I went to a high school that was considered one of the best school systems in the country and failed miserably because I was lazy. My parents idea of being mindful was yelling at me only when I bought home a bad report card or my teacher called.

    The world is out there you have to make efforts to understanding it. Its called discipline people.

    Out of all of this hullabaloo the only thing that could be considered fact is that humans want to take little responsibilities of their shortcomings.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  53. me

    this is not the same at all as that woman who didnt know germany was a country, but now its popular to pick on our own people and make ourselves feel better/superior to non existant idiots.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  54. me

    this is news worthy? so she cant do 3 different conversions in her head off the bat within a 10 second window. many people, actors included, dont have jobs that require mental math on a regular basis. so what? even an engineer like me who lives and dies by math would be a bit slow with this contrived question.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  55. R

    The ugly American.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Aretak

    Are you kidding me? All that just to go on about California's budget concerns? You want to pick on about your goverment representatives that cannot balance a budget? How about them spending money they don't have? You want to criticize Heaton for not knowing right away that thirty quarters is 7.50...may want to go after those lawmakers that seem to think that they can spend more than what they have.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Z Wib

    and yet, keeps posting stories about Paris Hilton, The Kardashians, and a list of other rich, spoiled idiots who would not last one day at an actual job.

    Not to mention Jon and Kate, Lindsay, Britney (anyone with a Y at the end of their name.)

    Then again, Britney actual does something other than walk around clueless... she lip-synchs, clueless.

    maybe CNN and other "news" sites would stop covering these talentless, dumb, useless people...

    but have to sell those advertising slots ! Larry King, Hollywood Minute...

    Hypocrisy, brought to you by CNN.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  58. LouGnAZ

    Peter, you obviously failed history. Hippies were born before 69'-'75. Go back to your Xbox and score some more points killing zombies. Freakin' Gen X, Gen Y or whatever "Gen" you're from!!

    August 20, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Moonbeam

    I am a baby boomer, and I believe I'd have more money saved today if in high school I had been taught the time-value of money by learning how interest compounds, how to balance a checkbook, etc. Those subjects were far important for me to learn than to spend time studying the lives of the fornicating gods of Greek mythology and even Shakespeare. I needed to learn financial planning and management more than I needed to know that "fair Juliet is the sun." All of that is "much ado about nothing" in comparison with life skills which were not taught. Additionally, I think gym class should be done away with and that hour added to a child's personal time so he has enough time to do the ridiculous amounts of homework now being assigned since it appears that not as much teaching is being accomplished during school hours as it once was. Children now hardly have time for family life anymore. Further, it is the parents' personal decision as to how much their children will exercise and how and it is the parents' responsibility to see their children shower or bath. Children should not be forced into group showers as if they were in the military or in prison. That having been said, it did take me about 30 seconds to answer the question Ms. Heaton had been asked (and I feel bad that it even took me that long).

    August 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  60. biffco

    if you care to watch, she did the math of converting the euro to dollar just fine then did the math on each answer. all regis did was ask her how much each answer was.

    so was she nervous? perhaps its harder to think when you are nervous. my question is why are bloggers the true whiners? the woman is doing something for charity yet instead you try to make her sound stupid.

    hey guess what!? maybe she is stupid, how would any of us know? yet you spend your time writing about celebrities and just because they are famous doesn't mean they should be geniuses. you decided to write an article pointing out a celebrity may not be too bright. who said they are in the first place

    reminds me of people complaining about how celebrities have political views, but the true people to blame are the bloggers, and cnn producers and news channels who air those opinions.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Ginny

    I agree that she should have been able to calm down and just figure it out, but frankly, some people truly are math-phobic and can't perform even the simplest calculations under pressure. Seriously – could you do this in your head within a few seconds, with tons of people watching you?

    Anyway, she doesn't make a living using her intellectual skills. Cut her some slack for doing something for charity.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Andy

    Well QBall, do something about it then. Lots of people can come onto a message board and rant and rave about all sorts of things. Become a teacher, volunteer and teach Sunday School, run for your local school board or city council, there's lots of things you can do, but whining anonymously shouldn't be one of them. You must be a very smart person, based on your outrage, so you must have a lot of knowledge you can share with the youth of today.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Rod


    Wow. Your generation (those born between 1969-1975 by your reckoning) were the first to use calculators in the classroom. MY generation, those born post-Korea, we had to do it all on paper or in our heads. We were introduced to the 'new math' that did away with long division and forced us to think the problem through without making scratchmarks on paper. My guess is that you had some technological help in the math classrooms, something I'm 100% against even today. Passing the class isn't the goal! The goal is to learn the material and to be able to use it.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Dina

    sorry! I meant: We need more Catholic school nuns to teach this country! I am amazed as to how much AMERICA has DUMBED down.
    (Please forgive me, Sr. Margaret Mary!).

    August 20, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Joe Six Pack too

    JAG I couldn't agree with you more. I lost all respect for her when she weighed in on the Teri Schiavo case. That was reinforced when she did that commercial against stem cell research in Missouri.

    And she's a Republican. Who says all those 'Hollywood types' are liberals.

    Any fool could do that problem – six quarters make $1.50 and 5 times 6 is 30. Duh. Euros doesn't even enter into the problem.

    And she got applause for that. How appalling.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Amy

    Thank you, Lyn. It's really easy to be an armchair critic, but we don't take into account the nerves of the people put in the hot seat, even if it's "just for charity." You can't tell me that even seasoned pros wouldn't feel butterflies when going on a game show.

    Yes, we really need to improve our education. But don't make this woman a poster child of that movement. There are plenty of others who fit the bill in normal, everday life.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Tom

    Leave her alone. Why is it that when there is a little blood in the water that all the lazy sharks pounce. Go find something worthwhile to complain about.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Dina

    We need more Catholic school nuns to teach this country! I am amazed as to how much American has dumed down.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Christian

    She obviously didn't comprehend what was being asked. Answering the simpliest questions can be nerve racking when you are doing it in front of a studio audience and you know millions of people are going to watch it. She just panicked. No big deal. Its certainly nothing to rant over.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Jay

    Do you really need to bring up THE Ohio State University. I believe it would be her primary education (elementary school I would hope) that would have been the basis for her 'lack of her ability to multiply'.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Newswatcher


    Stupidity is indeed painful.

    Painful to see, especially on national TV.

    I always liked her as an actress; ironically, she played the 'smart' one in the family on Everybody Loves Raymond ... which everybody loves in reruns.

    But that performance on Millionaire was beyond 'squirmy'.

    It was squirrely.

    She was so rude, and made " I'm a rich movie star, I don't understand money " comments, and made deragotory comments about huge segments of the American public, and also her own alma mater ... that the audience gasped and groaned and even boo'd her a couple of times.

    And then she proved she was not only rude, but stupid , to boot.

    Quite the combination.

    Very unattractive and disappointing. I'm glad her charity got something, but to see her shrieking like a schoolgirl out there, and not even letting the host try to guide her through it, seemed so self-serving and attention-getting.

    And to hear someone say they can't count to seven dollars and fifty cents, because they 'use credit cards for everything' , at these times, in this economy is particularly stunning.

    There are people playing that game hoping to get enough money to put a roof on their house ... a very modest roof on a modest house ... or to 'earn' enough to buy a garden shed to put their lawnmowers in ... and they are the lucky ones in America right now. Some don't even have a house to put a roof on, or a lawn to mow.

    To have a big 'star' come up there and brag about paying no attention to money, is painful to see on so many levels.

    I'm sure her performance that night doesn't reflect where her heart is at ... or at least I hope it doesn't ... otherwise she might tell all those who are helping the starving children in that charity to simply let them eat cake.

    Heretofore, we all here have been huge fans of " Raymond " over the years and watch it every day.

    We have not been able to sit through it once, though, since that performance.

    I know it seems unreasonable, but my husband and myself just sat in stoney silence the first two times we tried, and now we just switch it off.

    Sad that someone can totally spoil what should have been a fun experience for all.

    Being ' math challenged ' is not the issue here ... Being snide and snotty and cavalier toward > people < ... and completely out of touch with the ordinary person, is the issue.

    This wasn't the Oscars ... this was a room full of just plain folks, and that is what that show is all about.

    Love Regis ... He seemed astonished ... but gamely hung in there ... He's a true pro.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Jim Meenan

    Another stupid Republican heard from!

    August 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Rebecca

    SoCalGal, c'mon. President Obama is a Harvard educated lawyer who was the first African American president of the Harvard law review. Like him or not like him, you can't argue with the fact that he's extremely bright.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  74. LYN

    To the slobs who created a video virus
    out of heaton's math problem:

    Would you prefer Mrs Heaton was addicted to spray tanning and Rodeo Drive?
    Would you prefer Mrs Heaton was a hedonist ass,
    a hair-swinging, perfume-making,
    bulimic, demanding fashion slave diva,
    such as heigl, longoria, sheridan,
    j lopez, lohan, spears, aniston, etc etc etc?
    Would it be better if Heaton didn't care about serving a good
    cause, and instead stayed home by the pool?
    Is that what you really find attractive?
    Leave Heaton alone, at least
    she was out there trying .

    August 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Kay

    Not sure what Patricia not knowing math has to do with Politicians; is she a Politician?

    August 20, 2009 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Beauregard Kumquat Alyoisis

    She's close to my age and I can relate since I went to Catholic school but hated it so much, I didn't apply myself and as a result, I also had trouble answering that question. At least she's gorgeous (to me anyway)!

    August 20, 2009 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  77. DP

    What about Winona Judd’s appearance? She was asked how many possible combos 3 pairs of pants & 4 tops would make. She had no clue, giving various excuses just as lame as Patricia Heaton. She called her friend who was a “mom” (yeah, because doing laundry is a prerequisite for this question). I was so disgusted, I didn’t stick around to see her final answer.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  78. David

    Does it really matter. I mean the government will probably pass legislation to pick up the bill anyhow, so why bother figuring the amount. 🙂

    August 20, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  79. cat

    What I see in the video is the joy of discovery she has when she realizes she can actually do the math if she reasons it out ! That is why I am a teacher. She is just a math-phobic person, not stupid. Plus there truly are many different kinds of ways of thinking and intelligence.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Mike

    ClubQBall, I think the social scale has always been more favorable to athletes than smart students. If you can figure out how to make kids, particularly high schoolers, value a good education, you should write a book as I am sure a ton of parents out there would love to read it.

    I don't think our students today are dumber than they were in the past, in fact, I would argue the opposite. As we enter more firmly into the service sector and get away from the manufacturing sector, the old adage of the "more you know, the farther you go" will become increasingly true.

    In the 70's you could barely scape by high school and then land a job in the auto industry or manufacturing and make a good wage. Now you are pretty much required to have some level of formal educational to make a decent wage.

    As for this article, and Patrica Heaton, she made (and makes) a ton of money by being attractive and funny; she doesn't need to be brilliant. Therefore she probably doesn't place much emphasis on math, as from her experience she doesn't need it.

    Or perhaps she just had a bad day. You can't tell me all that pressure of being on a television show might now freeze your brain.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  81. BLong

    Sure, you were TAUGHT all of this stuff...and I'm sure it was mostly by your parents more than anything. I do agree that the younger generation (me being included) has it A LOT easier. But why aren't our parents (possibly you included, mine definitely not included) teaching us the same things they were taught? I'm not saying all the blame is on parents because I know a lot of the blame should fall on us. However, parents are also to blame for the way this "younger generation" acts.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Matt

    Who cares...she got the answer right. Whats the big deal. I read that whole pointless column thinking she got the question wrong.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Peter - VA Beach, VA

    The country is as dumb as it is because we, the average citizen, have let it become so. Everything that dumbs us down- TV, internet, etc- these are things in which we have a choice.

    TV and video games became popular because we wanted to use them. Blame other people all you want. Shame other people all you want. But you're just as reckless and irresponsible as the next person. All are to blame for our idiocy.

    Whining and crying won't solve anything. I guess they didn't teach you to commit to action back in '69-'75. Freakin' hippie.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  84. SoCalGal

    If you think that's scary...just think about all the politicians with the same level of education who are right now making decisions about running your lives...your taxes, your education, your national security, your health care, your bail-outs... the list is endless!!!!!

    August 20, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  85. pamedtec

    AMEN KATE!!!

    August 20, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  86. JAG

    In anything I've ever heard or read about Patricia Heaton, she always comes off as such a snob and so 'holier than thou'. Remember that time she accused Michelle Pfeiffer of having plastic surgery? As if it was any of her business. This time, she got put in her place and on national television. Sucks to be her. Her charity is probably so ashamed that they gave the money back to her.

    August 20, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Denizen Kate

    Perhaps if stupidity were actually painful, we'd find a cure.

    August 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  88. ClubQBall

    And so, with shows like this and the many others that are disguised as contextual reality game shows, the dumbing down of America continues.

    When we, as a society, put more emphasis and accolades on rewarding a below-average, special-needs football jock for taking his neighborhood high school football squad to the state championship game than, say, the four-member science club who successfully created a project that can and someday may help society relinquish its dependency on fossil fuels ... well ... YOU DO THE MATH.

    I'm utterly ashamed at how woefully ignorant and illiterate these children are today ... and I'm only 39 years old!!! The kids born in 1969 through 1975 were taught the fundamentals. We were taught how to make proper change. We were taught respect; to use good manners and to be respectful of our elders. My generation knew how to create complex sentences and use proper grammar and punctuation by the time we were in the third grade!!!

    What has happened to society? What has happened to this once great country? Why does a "D" average football player rank higher on the social scale than an "A" average student who believes in hard work and WANTS to go to college to LEARN? Can someone explain this to me, please?

    Be ashamed of yourselves for allowing the dumbing down of this once great country. Hang your heads and be ashamed when twenty year old adults become flummoxed and can't count back change from a $100.00 bill without using a calculator. Be ashamed and horrified when an eighteen-year old cannot name the last four U.S. Presidents.

    August 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |

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