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You are born into a society to two loving parents. During the first few years of life they raise you with caring and compassion.when you talk to your friends, you notice they're all complaining about the exact same problem. It seems that pretty much no one can balance their checkbooks correctly. Just about everyone you know, no matter how smart or educated they are, are constantly bouncing checks and having trouble with their monthly finances. Over time, this becomes a normal thing to you. Eventually you just stop noticing it. You just accept that this kind of problem is a normal thing that everyone has to wrestle with.
-By Caleb Jones
1 + 1 = 2
2 + 2 = 5
3 + 3 = 6
4 + 4 = 8
And so on. The fact she's teaching you that 2 + 2 = 5 doesn't bother you at all or raise any alarms. She's your teacher, you're the student. She's an authority figure, you're just a small child. She must be right. 2 + 2 = 5. You don't even think about it.
As you get older and rise through the grades at school, all the other teachers repeat 2 + 2 = 5, and grade your mathematics papers accordingly. You become accustomed to getting As or at least Bs on all of your math homework. You are happy.
At home, your loving mother cares for you, often reminding you that, good, honest, caring people always use 2 + 2 = 5 when doing any math. Saying 2 + 2 equals any other number is selfish and wrong. As you become a teenager, your strong, masculine father, whom you love very much and want to make proud, often puffs out his chest and booms that "real men" make damn sure that 2 + 2 = 5. Only "idiots" and "pussies" say it equals anything else. The boys on the playground sometimes say (or at least imply) the same thing. So do all the cute girls you're suddenly becoming attracted to.
Your family often takes you to church. There, the pastor often gives rousing, fire-and-brimstone sermons about how 2 + 2 = 5, and those who believe it equals any other number are sinners, are evil, and will go straight to hell when they die. You certainly don't want to go to hell! You redouble your efforts on your math homework, confirming always at that 2 + 2 = 5 in any equations you work on. Your teachers nod approvingly and continue to give you good grades.
You become a little older, 18, 19, 20 years old, and begin to form political opinions. The right-wing conservatives on Fox News and talk radio often talk about those who believe 2 + 2 does not equal five are disgusting degenerates who are violating the Bible. They're also unpatriotic and don't give a shit about their country to whom they owe so much freedom.
Surprisingly, the progressives and left-liberals also hate people who don't believe 2 + 2 = 5, though their opinion is a little different. Those who don't believe 2 + 2 = 5, they say, are selfish and racist. They hate poor people, hate teachers, hate children, and especially hate women. They're complete assholes who don't care about anyone but themselves. After all of this you are very thankful you're not one of those people. 2 + 2 = 5. Thank goodness.
You become an adult. You move out, get a job, and get your own apartment. Your newly found freedom is nice and you can't wait to start your own life in the real world. You are happy and full of optimism. Something very peculiar happens one day. You are balancing your checking account at the end of the month. The Quicken software you use, like most of the other bookkeeping software, assumes that 2 + 2 = 5. Yet for some reason, all the numbers add up wrong at the end of the month.
In frustration, you decide to do the mathematics yourself on paper, and amazingly, end up with the same problem. The numbers just don't add up right. Weird. Finally you forget about it and go out with your friends. For the rest of the month, it's chaos with your checkbook and your bank. You keep bouncing checks and debit card charges, pissing off vendors, and getting charged overdraft fees by your bank. It's maddening.
What comes instead is an angry letter from the government saying that all of your numbers were wrong on your tax return, and that you actually owe them $6,000 in back taxes. Needless to say, you're furious. You don't have $6,000. So you work out a payment plan with them, and angrily start paying the government every month, in addition to your usual bills and taxes.
Your anger is alleviated a little, not much but a little, the next day when you hear all of your other co-workers bitching about the same thing. They were all told that they did their taxes wrong and owed way more than they should have. There is much frustration. Intense anger is directed at the government and politicians. There are even whispers of government conspiracies.
The long years wear on. For some reason you don't understand, every time there are numbers involved in your life, you have constant, massive problems. "Why is this happening to me?" you ask, "I'm a good, honest, moral person. I'm doing everything I was ever told to do. This should not be happening to me." Your only small comfort is that just about everyone else you know is also suffering the same problems to varying degrees, so at least you're fitting in and people approve of you.
One day you're sitting at a coffee shop, glaring into your smartphone, angrily grumbling about how you've discovered you're paying way more interest on your car loan than your budget ever called for. You strike up a conversation with another fellow sitting next to you. He's a nice guy, but there's an air about him that's very unusual. He seems to be much happier than most people you run into, and a little bit of a smartass. Regardless, he's fun to talk to. He introduces himself as Whitelizard.
As you start going on and on about all the problems in your life, Whitelizard smiles knowingly, like he's heard it all before. Eventually he stops you and says, "I'm going to tell you something. You're not going to like it, and you're not going to agree with it, but if you actually do it, it will completely turn your life around for the better." Curious, you ask, "What? What is it?"
"2 + 2 doesn't equal 5", Whitelizard says with a glint in his eye, "Actually, 2 + 2 = 4." Instantly, you jerk away from him like he just slapped you in the mouth, and you glare at him like he's a madman. "What the hell are you talking about?" you scream, "That's insane. Everyone knows that 2 + 2 = 5. Are you some kind of idiot?"
"I know that's what you've been told," Whitelizard says, nodding sadly, "What you've been told is wrong. Why do you think you're always having these problems with numbers? Why do you think everyone you know has the same problem? Is this some kind of big coincidence? Of course not. It's because 2 + 2 = 4, not 5."
"That's ridiculous!" you laugh, "2 + 2 doesn't equal 4. You're full of shit!" "Let me show you something," Whitelizard says. He pulls out two coins and places them on the table. "How many coins are there?" "Two," you say, still visibly upset.
"Okay," Whitelizard says, "Now I'm going to add two more. Okay? 2 + 2."
You shrug as you watch Whitelizard slowly place two more coins on the table.
"Now," he says, "2 + 2. Count the coins."
You count the coins. One, two, three...four.
Wait a minute. That can't be right. One, two, three...four? This just can't be right. This Whitelizard guy is some kind of magician and he's pulling some kind of trick on you. Or he's a hypnotist and he's somehow deluded your mind. Or he's put some kind of drug in your coffee. Or...or...something. This...this just can't be right. With this clear evidence of something disproving a basic rule of life that you've been told your entire life, you explode with fury.
"Fuck you man!" you scream, "You think you're so fucking smart! You think you know everything! This little thing with the coins? It's all bullshit. You're making it up. You're just pissed off at mathematics! You're just trying to sell me something! You're a shallow, selfish prick who hates women and you're going to hell, dude. Fucking asshole!" You grab your coffee and storm out of the coffee shop. It's been a very long time since you've been this angry. What a jerk that guy was!
Later that month, you pound your desk in frustration as you get more notices from the bank about some new overdraft charges. Then suddenly you think back to that strange guy at the coffee shop. He was clearly crazy and obviously an asshole, but would it hurt to try out what he said in a very small way?
Carefully, you get up and close the door to your home office and close the blinds so that no one sees you. Then you carefully balance your checkbook and the transactions in your checking account just like you always have, but this time, you do it with 2 + 2 = 4, not 5. When done, you sit dumbfounded at the results. For the first time in your life, your totals come out perfectly and your entire checkbook balances to the penny.
What. The. Hell. You don't really understand what you're seeing. This can't be right, but yet there it is.
You try it again. You go to figure interest on your car loan using 2 + 2 = 4. Again, all the numbers come out perfectly.
Still disbelieving, you try it a third time, doing some math on some measurements for a homemade bookshelf you've always wanted to make. And again, it works perfectly.
You start to get a little excited. It's like you've suddenly acquired some kind of superpower no one else has.
Over the next few weeks, you very quietly start switching all the math you do from 2 + 2 = 5 to 2 + 2 = 4. You're very secretive about it and tell no one. If anyone actually found out you were doing this, you believe they would call you a sick, selfish, evil asshole who hates children and you'd probably lose your job and lose all of your friends. You certainly don't want that! So you keep it all on the down-low.
Yet despite this, for the first time in your life, everything starts to work perfectly. Soon you're one of the happiest people you know.
A few years later you're walking down the street and bump into a guy who looks familiar. To your shock, it's Whitelizard. "Hey man!" you say excited.
"Hey," he says with a smile, "How have you been?" He's his usual happy self, and it's almost as if he's forgotten you screamed at him the last time you talked.
"I have to tell you something," you say. Then you pull him aside, glance around to make sure no one is looking, and say quietly, "I tried that 2 + 2 = 4 thing. It works! I mean, holy shit! It actually works! I can't believe it's this easy!"
"It's nice, isn't it?" Whitelizard says with his usual smile.
"Look, I'm sorry I yelled at you and called you an asshole, back then..."
"Don't worry about it," Whitelizard says, "I was telling you something the exact opposite of what you had been told your entire life by everyone in society you loved, trusted, or looked up to. Of course you're going to be upset. Anyone would. I don't blame you. I'd probably react the same way. Hell, it took me many years to accept it myself! But hey, at least you had the courage and independence to actually try it out. Most people just get angry, stubbornly stand their ground, and go back to their lives of up-and-down chaos. You're one of the few who actually tried it. And now you know. I'm just glad you gave it a shot."
"Me too," you say, "Just...", you look around carefully, "Keep your voice down, okay? I don't want anyone to know I'm doing this. My dad would hate me and my girlfriend would break up with me and my boss..." "Look," Whitelizard interrupts, "Soon, you won't give a shit what those people think, and you'll find that once they see you're happy, they won't really care and will still love you anyway. Then you'll be truly free. But I realize this is still new to you. One step at a time." He smiles and slaps you on the back.
You talk for a bit longer, shake hands with him, bid him farewell, and continue down the street. You look up and smile as you walk. The sun is shining. It's going to be a good day.
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SanMigLight 2013-11-24 05:29:11
what is 2+2=5?
Matt T. 2013-11-24 06:44:33
Great post BD. Brought a knowing smile to my face. By substituting "monogamy works for everyone" for "2+2=5" in the story, I am at the point where I'm not telling my friends, family, and coworkers out of fear of losing them. I can envision the day where they just accept me and my relationship beliefs, and they would ask me: "Hey Matt, how's your girlfriend? Uh huh. And what about your other girlfriend? Uh huh. And what about your fuckbuddy? Awesome."
maldek 2013-11-24 07:51:45
Great story! You could substitute a lot of things like... monogamy is best paying taxes is your duty socialsm means prosperity feminism helps women fat women are beautiful Stay at home moms are bad only career wifes are good you need a degree to be successful you can vote for a change debt means wealth ...feel free to continue this list as you see fit.
Nicholas 2013-11-24 07:55:46
Holy fucking shit! I knew this was going to be good, but you absolutely blew me away with this one, BD. This THE allegory for fighting all types of mainstream indoctrination dogma. It's so amazing and beautifully written. I hope this goes viral. It might get people to actually think.
Hawk 2013-11-24 08:17:04
Amazing post! 10/10 Side note: Bd, can you do a post about religion? I'm pretty sure religion holds people back to their full potential, and encourages unhappiness... Would be cool to see your view on religion.
Korg 2013-11-24 08:25:17
Seems something broke in your RSS feed. I keep getting the previous one when a new one is posted.
Tin Man 2013-11-24 09:11:37
Hey BD...The cool part of the story, is that every reader will see the equation "mean" something differently - based upon what we each need individually. Thanks for not forcing a meaning - for me, I read it and see "masculinity" or "being sexual" or "being yourself" as the point. Someone else will make it mean whatever they need it to mean. That's the cool thing with telling stories and using analogies - you don't force a specific "thing" - the reader's mind will fill in the gaps perfectly. Great job and thanks.
Jack 2013-11-24 09:28:15
Absolutely brilliant post, man! Totally awesome! Ever read Orwell's 1984? "Freedom is the ability to say that 2+2=4 without punishment. Once that is granted, all else must logically follow." The question we all must answer is: "And if the Party says there are five fingers and not four, then how many?" Everyone has their own level of sacrifice that they are prepared to make for freedom. My answer to the question is: There are still four fingers. And ditto about the religion post. That would be another good one.
Blackdragon 2013-11-24 10:37:46
Bd, can you do a post about religion? I’m pretty sure religion holds people back to their full potential, and encourages unhappiness… Would be cool to see your view on religion.Not sure if I want to go there. I don't want to sidetrack the topic content here. I've mentioned my views on religion before (it's just more false Societal Programming, only from the right instead of the left). Let me think about it.
Ever read Orwell’s 1984?One of the best books ever written.
Rex 2013-11-24 11:09:01
Great post. Strong message. Regular BD readers will get it immediately, others can use it as a general observation of societal programming/propaganda.
CarloSandros 2013-11-24 11:34:50
I really liked this POST this is a definate among BEST 2013 BD posts. Someone mentioned substituting with other things.I think its gives a clear story how maleable our minds are to adapt.Not to get into NLP and such but really how our lives can be fkd by what society tells you then you become frustrated in general with Life and then when you begin to think for yourself is when things truly start to florish.GREAT article to help people wake up on things,believe or not most Millionaires and successful businessmen once they go through the 2+2=4 moment thats when their lives change and start making things happen in Life.I wouldnt say per se' monogamy..eventhough its BD forte is dating women.. but in general in Life,Thanks Whitelizard 😉
CarloSandros 2013-11-24 11:46:02
@Maldek I disagree with your comment cause what I cathc off this is basically whitelizard showing few men know 2+2=4;he wasnt radical or extremist but more of realistic.Not all things in Life are by force brother..its knowing the system to work the system. Back to the subject of women and dating why you think these mormon guys have 3 and more wives? and are on TV? Think about that for a sec. @HAwk this doesnt apply to religion brother. religion is broad.its spiritual and financial and its Power within the system,depending who is favoring and sort. This goes soo off topic it would requiere burn more brain neurons and hours trying to put it into simple words why we exist on this Earth.So "Religion" Doesnt apply. Really you have to find it within yourself first to find religion in your heart. We as humans are born with an instinctual feeling that there is something larger than Life beyond earth..a higher being..thats a self journey of dicovery that isnt relevant. Religion isnt BAD though dude,like I mentioned before: "Back to the subject of women and dating why you think these mormon guys have 3 and more wives? and are on TV? Think about that for a sec. "
Bastardly 2013-11-24 12:37:55
@CarloSandros If you're saying religion isn't bad then obviously you don't understand it's history and impact on mankind. BD nailed it with 'false social programming' if you don't think that's harmful then what do you think the dark ages where?
Jon 2013-11-24 12:52:15
There's a physics joke that says 2 + 2 = 5 with sufficiently large values of two. 😉 But I know what you mean, and it's still a good analogy and could definitely be applied to religion. People on the left and right fight over God's name and what he wants from us, but they team up against the person who says "I don't believe in any of your gods - you haven't met your burden of proof."
Beast Mode 2013-11-24 15:36:02
Hey BD, Let me start off by saying job well done. This is by far my favorite piece you have written. Now I know what you mean. Beautifully articulated you're one bad ass dude.
Tim 2013-11-25 11:11:13
It's hard for me to understand why you would write an article like this considering just last week you said you didn't really care about the truth behind whether people (particularly women) have a biological desire to procreate or just a biological desire to have sex. Possibly you've had a change of heart (and now really care about all truths), but I see it more in terms of the monogamy topic. It seems that it's your life's mission to dispel the idea that monogamy doesn't last forever.
ash 2013-11-25 12:09:15
Good point. I like how someone can look at this in a graph and record it down to a T. 1) Anger 2) Denial 3) Bargaining And bloody hell all this could've been skipped over had people adhered to integrity and truth in the first place. For the practical people out there. This means. a) Eliminating mass media consumption b) Forging a steel mind that cuts through BS and understands what BRINGS RESULTS, what works to maximize happiness. Have no idea why that guy said do one in religion considering there are.. I shit you not.... perhaps 5 to 10 million Liberal Atheists on reddit, Every. Day. Shitting. on. Christianity in. one. form. or. the. other. who neglect to talk about how this modern conventional wisdumb (cultural Marxism, PC, white mens are evilzzz, college roolz, Jonah hill is funny, womenzz are the smartz, organic foodzzz and avoiding meat makes me heaalthyyy) At least the Bible possessed seeds of truth within its Proverbs about all kinds of life. At least it was a solid framework to sustain people through the Dark Ages transitioned into civilization. Can the same be said about this fucking bullshit on TV and all the lame fucking lies? No. And this is AFTER the internet came to fruitition which makes it even more shameful.
Blimy 2013-11-25 12:55:28
Ash I like what you said about not consuming mass media. Great way to cut out B.S. As far as defending the bible saying it contains 'truths' and that it got people through the dark ages...it caused the dark ages. Come on. The church ruled EVERYTHING back then and basically outlawed science. Which is why we had the 'dark ages', such rampant disease, famine, huge illiteracy rates. We're still in the shadow of that today.
Blimy 2013-11-25 13:15:34
By outlawed science I mean they outlawed the study of certain branches of science, astrology, human autopsy, abandoned advanced philosophy done by the Romans before them, failed to carry on great engineering feats like the aqueducts that could have saved Europe from the black death. Hell at times the church and mob rule did what they could to suppress advance mathmatics. Who do you think all those hundreds of thousands of 'witches' where burned at the stake? Scientist, philosophers, freethinkers, anyone who didn't agree with your little black book. That was the age of the bible. So don't go crying 'oppressed christian' no one is buying it.
Tim 2013-11-25 16:48:12
ash, Blimy -- Good thoughts on the surface but they miss the heart of the issue: all these little categories (religion, science, politics, etc.) are mere scapegoats, covering up the mess that is the universe. The only truth, and the reason 2+2 does not equal 5, is that there will always be some sort of something fucking us up. There is no solution to the madness. Blackdragon's final sentence: "You look up and smile as you walk. The sun is shining. It’s going to be a good day." - this will never be true for humanity as a whole, as there will always be someone getting the shaft
Oxyjinn 2013-11-26 10:33:52
lifeofalovergirl 2013-11-30 13:12:36
My Dad used to always ask, whenever we would say something like "well, they say its best to _____ (insert whatever- eat so many servings of carbs, get an annual checkup, let the baby sleep in his own bed, etc)", "who is THEY?" He would ask questions like how do you know "they" know what is best, how does this benefit them, how do you know whose idea this really was? Then he'd tell us to always question authority and never believe something just because you are told to or seen it written in a book. He'd be like "just because someone decided to write it down and claim it was fact, a lot of people will believe it, but writing something down doesn't necessarily make it truth. It doesnt matter how many credentials someone has, those are only superficial and based on believing what someone else claimed as truth. Even statistics can be altered in such a way as to "prove" a point that may not really be the best representation of a fact. It was always "question established norms" and "question the establishment" because oftentimes they have an agenda. Yes, my dad was a super hippy but some of what he had to say was legit. People are often afraid to question and afraid to seek new ways of doing things but the greatest minds out there always have.
illuzsion 2013-12-06 07:44:50
Absolutely brilliant BD! I would have had Whitelizard close the talk with " Sometimes you may automaticaly slip into 2+2=5, wake up when that happens and do your math again". All in all great post.
bandini 2014-01-12 17:45:08
The problem with your analogy is that, in math, you're not taught 2+2=4 by rote. You're taught what the '+' symbol means, what the '=' sign means, and are given graphical representations of addition, so that you don't need to remember an answer - you can calculate it through a reuseable formula. Math isn't a good example for relationship dynamics and societal structure because, by its very nature, it is based on measurable and expressible relations. These unwritten rules of interaction are the exact opposite of math - there is no proof that one could ever find for them. There is no wrong way to treat anyone, no wrong way to look at women. They are completely arbitrary, like how we call certain wavelengths of light "blue", or certain configurations of material a "desk", or a "car". I suppose you could re-tool the example, so that we just considered four of something "5", but in its current state it's a bit over-simplified. At the end of the day however, it's up to the individual to decide how they participate in society, and accept the consequences of acting in a way that brings derision and judgement.
Blackdragon 2014-01-13 00:22:28
Being just a liiiiiitle too picky, aren't we?
Wes 2014-01-31 09:15:25
That was a great post BD. I really enjoyed it. It's unbelievable that nobody gets how relationships work and that people still get married!
Arthur 2015-08-10 08:30:49
'What do you think the dark ages where?' The 'Dark Ages' are a myth. Look at the top comment in this thread. http://www.quora.com/How-would-the-world-be-today-if-the-Dark-Ages-never-happened Feel free to add historical evidence if you can find any to contradict this.
Johnny Ringo 2017-02-24 08:29:11
Mark Twain's "What is Man" essay is a great one and tackles this. He points out that humans originate no thoughts. They all come from the outside. Books, TV, friends, a million things.
8/ 2017-09-19 15:02:18
This was a really nice post...
Johnny Ringo 2017-09-19 17:45:08
Hey BD! “Look, I’m sorry I yelled at you and called you an asshole, back then…” 🙂 🙂
Curtis 2017-10-26 07:41:15
BD - maybe not an article on religion but maybe "Faith" would be a good approach to it and give us guys some counter points. Being in Oklahoma, we see a lot of these fake or wanna be Christian girls that like to play like good girls and then when we have "the talk" all of the sudden they say the reason they still believe that monogamy will work is their "faith" and that God has a man for them blah blah blah. They suddenly ignore all stats or numbers. So, they pick and choose when they are going to apply this faith. It can be very frustrating sometimes the amount of Christian women here all delusional looking for their own personal messiah. What do you say or have said when ladies bring this up?
Jatin 2018-02-19 09:40:12
I can prove u that 2+2=5 We know that, 2+2=4 2+2=4-9/2+9/2 2+2=√(4-9/2)^2. +9/2 2+2=√16-36+(9/2)^2. +9/2 2+2=√-20+(9/2)^2. +9/2 2+2=√25-45+(9/2)^2. +9/2 2+2=√(5)^2-2.5.9/2+(9/2)^2+9/2 2+2=√(5-9/2)^2. +9/2 2+2=5-9/2+9/2 2+2=5. HENCE PROVED ??????????