Zero is Number One

0=1. What? Is that even legal mathematics? Well if we can prove that 1=2, will you be willing to accept 0=1? Here goes…


Multiplying both sides by a:

a × a=a × b

Subtracting –b2 on both sides:

a2 – b2 = a × b – b2

Factoring out:

 (a+b) × (a-b) = b × (a-b)

Canceling (a-b) on both sides:

a+b =b

Replacing b with a (based on our starting point):



And if a=1, then



There you have it. Based on the same line of reasoning, zero is one (number one).


Zero is so cool it is the IN thing in town nowadays. Almost anything with zero sells. We have:

  1. Zero calorie food and drinks for the figure conscious
  2. Zero emission and zero waste for the environment
  3. Zero defect for product quality assurance
  4. Zero wait time for efficiency
  5. Zero accidents for safety-first standards

Zero is now becoming number one in many aspects of human society, culture and industry.

In today’s world of continuous improvement to stay competitive, we need to raise our standards. We need yet another zero adopted by people who wish to excel: we need people who have zero tolerance.

In particular, we need leaders, managers and workers with zero tolerance to corruption and incompetence. The “that will do” attitude needs to be eradicated in our mindset and systems.

The reason many cultures are on a spiral decline is because people have begun to tolerate many things that are detrimental and harmful. Once we tolerate what is substandard and poor quality and begin to compromise our principles, we slowly give up more of our competitive edge.

Without noticing it, people will one day wake up homeless on the streets if they do not hold their guard on this creeping dysfunction of lowering their standards. Like the proverbial frog which got boiled for not noticing the slow but incremental increase in the temperature of the pot it was in, we can likewise turn out to be left with nothing if we are not vigilant.

We should not put up with tardiness, lack of common sense, and poor workmanship. We should not tolerate white lies, little bribes, and extortion in the guise of “tips” and “gifts.” A person who wishes to be an achiever should not give such corrupt values and practices even an inch of his turf.

When a mayor wants to clean up his town/city, he should not give a maximum tolerance policy for his police officers and workers out to demolish squatter shanties, let citizens simply get off the hook when they litter and pollute the environment, or have corrupt officers in his team get away with playing under-the-table tricks in handling money in the course of their duties.


And like the maker of the Japanese Zero fighter (Mitsubishi) is now back to flying high with a new commercial jet plane, let’s welcome ZERO as our Number ONE ally in our quest for excellence.

Andy Philips | 2015-11/13


  1. While I agree with your insight about zero tolerance of corruption, I’d just like to point out that the supposed “1=2” fallacy has been debunked before. If a = b, then a – b = 0. Therefore, cancelling out (a – b) is basically dividing both sides by zero, which is an illegal move in math.

    That aside, this was a great read. Thanks for the article! 🙂

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