Sunday, February 19, 2012

1 + 1 = ?

One and one do not make two. One and one make one. You can’t add something to itself to make it something else. For example, there is only one me (‘thankfully’, says you) and I can’t be added to myself to make someone else. I and I do not make you. Got it? Good.

Now, to add one with another one is a different matter. One plus another (different) one is not the same equation as one and one, which is adding one to itself. However, the answer is still not two. One plus another one makes two ones, not two. Two is something else entirely. The idea that two ones make a two is absurd. Two number ones don’t even look like a number two. They’re not even the same shape. In fact, two number ones look like an eleven and it would make as much sense to say that one and one makes eleven than to say they make two. In fact, it would probably make more sense.

Now, I’m not denying that one and another one share some mathematical/numerical notional value with a two. I’m just saying that one and another one are not the same thing as a two. They are just two ones. Let me put it this way, imagine that I am a fruit seller and I have two oranges. Combined, these two oranges weigh the same as a grapefruit. When I put the items on sale I charge the same for the two oranges as I would for a grapefruit. So, the two oranges are the same value as a grapefruit but that does not make the two oranges an actual grapefruit. A grapefruit is larger, tastes different, is a different colour and there is only one of it. If you thought that the two oranges became a grapefruit just because they weighed and cost the same you’d be insane. So why is it acceptable to think that two ones somehow become a two? It doesn’t make any sense.

What disturbs me is that we actually teach this shite in schools. We fill the heads of kids with this rubbish and then expect them to be able to deal with the bubbling, popping, fizzing, stretching, bending and wriggling contents of reality. We teach kids that one and one makes two not because it’s true but because it just seems true. It’s like everything else we teach kids in school, it hasn’t much to do with the real world at all. It’s just enough to get along with in what we’ve decided to pretend is the real world. It’s unreal, anyone who can add one and one knows that.

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