A comment by JoeShipman from yesterday's "Capitalism: A Love Story" post.
Several commenters knocked me for saying: "My favorite thing in the movie was the trashing of young math and science graduates who, instead of applying their talents to the benefit of humanity, went to Wall Street to design the complicated derivative securities that almost destroyed the economy. The closeup on an incomprehensible math equation was, for me, the most shocking image in the movie."
I wish I could get a screen shot of the equation shown in the movie. It's far more complicated that my critics are imagining. (More complicated than this.)
Why were people with such depth of mathematical skill using it this way? I guess the question answers itself. For the money. I agree with Michael Moore's disgust over the misapplication of intellectual work.
Now, Moore operates through cinematic technique not conventional rational argument. He's an entertainer and a polemicist, and complicated math can't be funny for long. It's interesting to see how he presents the stuff about the financial crisis. At one point, we see him sitting on a park bench next to a guy who tries to explain derivatives, and what's funny is the expression on Moore's face — we see in him what nearly all of us are thinking — I can't understand. And that generates a further emotional/political reaction: If I can't understand it, I'm worried that it's an evil scheme. Moore's cinematic "argument" works like that.