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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

An Engineer, a Mathematician and a ‘Climate scientist’ are each asked “what is 2 + 2?”

The Engineer says “somewhere between 3.9 and 4.1”, the Mathematician says “4” and the ‘Climate scientist’ says “what would you like it to be?”

David Bidstrup

32 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fred Z

    A fairly weak punch line.

    Surely the assembly here can do better.

    My climate scientist says “I shall consult some tree rings for the answer.”

    Not very good either I fear.

  • Laird

    A good article, not that it’s going to change anyone’s mind. CAGW enthusiasts and climate “scientists” are too deeply invested in “climate change” to be dissuaded by actual evidence that temperature measurements are so grossly distorted and dependent upon human manipulation as to be essentially meaningless.

    Anyway, the answer to “what is 2 + 2?” can easily be a broader range than “somewhere between 3.9 and 4.1”. It can be either 3 or 5 for some values of 2. With rounding to whole integers, both 1.6 and 2.4 round to 2. Thus 2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8 which rounds to 5, and 1.6 + 1.6 = 3.2 which rounds to 3. Simples. Within limits, “What number would you like?” isn’t an irrational answer.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Here is something else for Greenoids to worry about! I just read in The Australian, page 6, about a claim of a new type of energy- Hydrogen-Boron fusion! Professor Heinrich Hora says that it should be feasible within a decade. No radioactivity, and plenty of energy. Greenies, those who simply hate progress of any sort, will try to ban it, no doubt.

  • Brian Swisher

    I have a badge that says, “2 + 2 = 5 for sufficently large values of 2”. The person who got the biggest kick out of it was a mathematician. He read it and started laughing so hard, he was unable to speak. When he got his breath back, he said, “Well, if you allow 2 to expand infinitely…” and then he was off again.

  • Julie near Chicago

    My own thought is, It depends on what you mean by 2 . 🙂

    (As well, of course, as by +. Oh, and by 2 + 2 — Common Core, anyone? — and by = .)

    These are issues of serious contention, you know. Serious contention. Very serious. Seriously serious. For some value of serious.

  • bobby b

    “For some value of serious.”


    (For some values of “ha.”) 😆

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Trying to put definitions on things? What a masculinist view of the world! Things can be as many as they choose to be, so there, you objectivists!

  • Deep Lurker

    … and the ‘Climate scientist’ says, “4 – which confirms the consensus for anthropogenic global warming.”

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby– 😀

  • bobby b

    The Engineer says “somewhere between 3.9 and 4.1”, the Mathematician says “4” and the ‘Climate scientist’ says “we cannot give you an exact number, but we do know that 98.9% of all climate scientists agree that it is higher than it has ever been, and it’s rising, and it may even be too late to keep it from reaching the catastrophic level of 5, at which point mathematics as we know it will be altered forever. If only we had more money . . . “

  • Umbriel

    I vote for bobby b’s punchline, though it’d be better if he worked computer models and “adjusted” data in there somewhere.

  • bgates

    95% of our models have 95% confidence that it’s at least 4.1, which means we’re 190% positive it’s higher than it’s ever been (and we revisited some old, untrustworthy raw addition from the past, and it turns out that when properly adjusted by various important factors, 2+2 was really never more than negative thirty seven as recently as the 1980s).

  • Mr Ed

    The climate scientist says ‘7.132487406’ and rising.‘.

  • R. Dawes

    “We need an answer of either 3 or 5, as political winds require so that in any event we can further the proper social agenda, therefore let us firstly adjust the values of 2 as appropriate (taking care to erase the problematic original data and to present the adjusted data as the dataset that everyone should work from) and secondly devise – then refuse to divulge the details of – our own proprietary means of adding two numbers together, all while telling the ple… I mean populace… that the science is settled. Anyone who dissents, especially those who insist 2+2=4 or anything resembling it, is a shill for Big Oil or Big Coal, and should be silenced through criminal prosecution.”

  • The climate ‘scientist’ says “Whatever I’d like it to be!”

    (It was the successful candidate in the ‘eurocrat hires accountant’ joke who said, “Whatever you’d like it to be!”)

  • decnine

    Before or after adjustment?

  • Clovis Sangrail

    Initially it was four, but we’ve revisited earlier versions of that sum and realised that the answer needed to be adjusted downwards since it didn’t agree with our computer models. Now we’re having to adjust upwards to ensure a fit to the models so it’s currently 5. This is a very disturbing, nay catastrophic, trend and unless we all give up on all energy use it will soon be six.

    Please note that Russell and Whitehead give, in Principia Mathematica, a proof that 1+1=2 (it’s on p83 of Vol. 2, so it must be tricky).

  • View from the Solent

    It doesn’t matter what value you claim is the sum, according to Goedel you can’t prove it anyway.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Tom Lehrer – New Math:


  • terence patrick hewett

    Tom Lehrer – We Will All Go Together When We Go:


  • Kevin B

    It’s worse than we thought!

  • Fraser Orr

    And the climate scientist says… “we can’t give a precise falsifiable prediction but our models estimate as high as 4,643,123.66 by 2050 unless we radically change our way of life. Surely we don’t want to take the risk that we might be right? These other two deniers are dangerous subversives.”

    BTW, the theologian says “4, but 1, really.”

  • staghounds

    Why are you asking math questions when the PLANET is IN DANGER!!!

    The only sort of person who asks math questions is a DENIER!!!

  • CaptDMO

    Let’s see, with interest, minus inflation and fees,…and let me check for patent or copyrights…

  • NickM

    15 cigarettes = loneliness.

  • As the computer scientist, I can assure you that 2 + 2 = 22, “type conversion failure”, and occasionally “null pointer exception”

  • It doesn’t matter what value you claim is the sum, according to Goedel you can’t prove it anyway. (View from the Solent
    December 15, 2017 at 9:28 am)

    I assume you mean that if you deny the axiom of choice, then proving that 2+2=4 gets hard. So strictly, according to Goedel, you can prove it – provided you buy this axiom he just happens to have conveniently to hand.

    I strongly assert my inalienable right to buy and own an axiom of choice, and to carry it around with me at all times for use on any climate scientist or similar I may encounter.

  • Snorri Godhi

    “Is that a temperature increase or decrease?”

  • Snorri Godhi

    Here is another interdisciplinary joke that i like. No libertarian content, i’m afraid.

    Three English scientists are on a train to Scotland for an interdisciplinary conference.
    After crossing the border, the biologist says: Hey look, in Scotland cows are brown!
    The statistician says: No: in Scotland SOME cows are brown!
    The logician says: No: in Scotland there are at least 4 cows with at least 1 brown side.

  • Alisa

    No true cow…

  • Clovis Sangrail

    OK, SOH failure: 2+2=4 is fine without the axiom of choice (essentially since it doesn’t involve anything infinte).

  • auralay

    Climate science has homogenised the first 2 to actually be 1.8 and the second is now reading 2.2. So the model of 1.8 + 2.2 is actually in step with reality AND shows that in 2024 it will will have risen past the tipping point. We need a conference in Bali to debate the solution!