Is 2+2 Always Four??

Having a vague suspicion that I may find one more confirmation to my theory: that things are never that axiomatic, I googled:  “mathematics [blank] is 2+2 always 4?”

After one or two clicks I understood that 2+2=5 is also right:

“As any self-respecting engineer would agree, 2+2 can sometimes yield 5, for large values of 2. 🙂 –  Lucian Jun 25 ’14 at 17:38

Going into it a little bit more, to my amazement I find out that also 2+2 sometimes equals 1:

“In Z3 it is still true that 2+2=4, it just happens that 4=1 as well. –  Asaf Karagila Jun 25 ’14 at 17:41

Now, I cannot pretend that I understood a thing as for why are these values: I’ll just tip my hat with British elegance and give credit to specialists. I remember though learning, a number of years ago, to add up 2 apples with two other apples, and my teacher insisted that I could not add up 2 oranges and 2 apples (unless I changed their name to “fruit”).

This, among many others, was part of my life baggage of axioms – we have an existential need for absolute truths and things that are immutable. Well, reality, it so turns out, is not that axiomatic, precise and immutable, and 21st century science begins to openly acknowledge it; but this applies to our personal experience as well as it applies to sciences. It has never before been so obvious that society and individual lives are in upheaval, with old norms, institutions and taboos overturned – and it seems that this is just the beginning.

Life experience puts us in contact with things, people and experiences only to bring us to see, sometimes with pain, sometimes with relief, that clinging too hard to fixed concepts is unrealistic, and we risk to break our necks in free fall through the void of our misconceptions if we don’t give up on heavy, rigid beliefs.

With the insights of quantum physics we find out that reality doesn’t really exist, that it is just a matter of our perception, as particles shift between wave and particle under the eye of the observer. I can see that light can be only wave and vibration, but it’s hard to conceive that physical matter can, too?? The commoner like me can only wonder: how come that light and matter can be at the same time both wave and particle?

Science nowadays is discovering things that were thought impossible or unacceptable only a short while ago. We were convinced that our skies show a fundamental “emptiness”, pointed here and there by stars and galaxies. Only a couple of years ago, in 2011 became public the most recent view that all what we see, distant and near planets, stars, galaxies and all, make up just 4.9 of our universe; the rest of it, and of which scientists had no idea that existed, is dark energy and dark matter (dark, meaning non-reactant to light, invisible) that constitute 95.1% of it all. Pretty  much unknown for scientific pride, who praises itself that it can send space missions outside the solar system.

So, what is mind, after all? The picture changes here, too, so that the firm belief that human mind is just a mechanism comparable to a computer is slowly shifting, as neurologists come ever closer to the understanding of the mind as more than just brain: they start seeing soul also.

To bring just an example, Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is as close to expressing his belief in an ensouled world as anyone could hope for: he thinks that consciousness is not dependent on brain only, but that it arises in any sufficiently complex, connected information-processing system – from cells, to worms, to animals and up to humans; this can be a scientifically refined version of ancient panpsychism – a philosophical doctrine asserting that all there is, it is part of the God-Mind, or Spirit. Of course mainstream science is not yet ready to acknowledge the existence of a Universal Field of Consciousness, but I can see that it is slowly getting there.

For this, and many other reasons too, I began doubting that the world is just the one described by the science that I have studied at school, as I learned to doubt that 2+2=4; at least I know that it doesn’t always hold.

8 thoughts on “Is 2+2 Always Four??”

  1. Wonderful post here Cosmic. You know, I agree with what you said as the world is changing very fast around all of us. Science is not exact, it even states that things are correct until proven wrong. So we are always questioning things and making sure that what is correct is actually correct. That’s how we advance.

    Anything is up for debate now and that’s wonderful. It is teaching the world to be more open-minded and being open-minded is exactly how we can become more unified while keeping our diversity. Paradoxical? I think not! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great take on the prompt. For some reason, made me think of Ockham’s Razor (aka Occam’s Razor), made “popular” to the general public through its mention in the movie Contact, an adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel. In short, it’s the scientific principle that, all things being equal, the simplest answer is usually the right one. But … when are all things equal? Not in the 2 + 2 answers that’s for sure now I know! Marianne


  3. I agree. There is a more advanced science that makes our current version look primitive and superstitious. Here’s a long but spell-binding speech by a surgeon who had a near death experience that brought her some interesting perspectives about reality. I’m not a fundamentalist Christian anymore, but I certainly respect every word this woman is saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for recommending me this video. I am familiar with testimonies on NDE, but you are right, Mary Neil is outstanding by her mastery of her mind and of the subject, how she has coped with the experience itself – there was absolutely no fundamentalism in that. I wish there were increasingly more people like her who would step up from the ranks of anonymity and speak up about their significant “unorthodox” experiences (not necessarily NDEs) with the same competence and awareness.

      I have enjoyed reading some pages of your fiction – I have found in it wit, depth, fun, imagination and fine sarcasm.
      Honestly, I was impressed by the wit, depth, humor, at times sarcasm towards certain values of our pop culture. Your imagination runs far and fast, and I had an overall impression that I was reading a new, future kind of fiction literature. I don’t mean futuristic, science-fiction stuff – I mean, literature that is going to replace the repetitive one that we keep on seeing flung at readers by the pail these days. I also liked the insertion of those relevant images from popular culture: smart, innovative, challenging. And maybe I should be able to make good use of your generous offer if I downloaded your strategies for page-turning – so, in the idea that I’ll do it, thanks again.
      And, finally I liked the crazy idea (because extremely brave) of turning your back to your medical practice. You have no idea of the many ways I can relate to your (ex)”condition” – my husband is a gastroenterologist, ailing of the same pains like you describe, but he totally lacks the courage to do something about it.

      Lastly- this is the last one, promise – you really made my day by being the first one to like my post The Journey Down the Stairways – it is by far the most meaningful to me, of all posts. Great meeting you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for such a remarkable compliment. I had a difficult time sleeping the night after I read it. Visions of grandeur dancing in my wee little head. That sort of thing.

        I’m thinking about your husband today as I read a book, “The How of Happiness,” by Lyubomirsky, a research psychologist and the first of her kind, she says, to write this type of book. While I don’t consider psychology a hard science yet, they’re moving in the right direction. This book says that 40 percent of the ingredients of happiness are under our control, 50% consist of a genetic set point and 10% of happiness is due to our circumstances. She says that of the 12 scientifically supported strategies for increasing happiness, some work for some people and others work for others. Her book contains a test that identifies the areas that are most apt to make the test taker happy if worked on consistently. All outstandingly valuable info, however, in the run up to the main thrust of the book she mentioned that there is a gene they’ve identified that is associated with depression, but it is activated by chronic stress.

        Light bulbs went on in my head.

        Medicine and the school/training leading up to it are inherently stressful, far beyond what people generally realize. Anyone who say things to deny this, things like, “all jobs are stressful,” is making a huge mistake. It’s like saying all religions are the same or all childbirths are the same. Only ignorance floats these notions. But I’ve heard them all my career – as I’ve dreamed of having a life without the living-hell of medicine around my neck.

        If a person happens to have the gene that is associated with depression in the setting of chronic stress, and that person is a doctor, the key to happiness for that individual lies in the 10% arena: finding a job where there is lower stress. The author so far has missed this point entirely, though I’m only half through the book and already do recommend it highly.

        Another point: creative people tend to have dominant/ active right cerebral hemispheres as well as a high incidence of depression. The book makes mention of the fact that there is an area in the left prefrontal cortex that is more active in happier people. These pieces fit together. I’ve read that slowing the breathing activates the prefrontal cortex (another book written by a PhD at Stanford). I’m rambling a bit here, but activating the left prefrontal cortex may be worth consideration by the research scientists. It may explain why yoga (with the slow breathing) seems to make people happier.

        Regarding your insightful story that involves your dad dying of cancer after a stroke… I think you are wise in taking dreams seriously and in pondering the nature of consciousness. Every aspect, every ability of mind and body seems to be dealt out to humans in different degrees so that there are some of us who can jump and “stuff” a basketball while others can experience aspects of consciousness that would be impossible for the rest of us to comprehend at all.

        My father had two strokes and died a week after the second one. He was a doctor. After the first stroke he calmly said he had three years to live. Three years later he died. Although he was not religious, he was never afraid of death. Perhaps that was part of his gift.

        It’s very nice to meet you. I will never forget what you said about my writing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have downloaded the tips – your paper here is amazing! I have done a bit of forging, collecting, building up some “wordsmith” tools myself, but yours is together rich, inspiring and fun – although a little bushy in places – too much information that can’t be prevented from flooding out, I know. It’s a well of tools for writers, of writing wisdom (“big words take more energy and draw attention away from the story”), life-wisdom, and, the cherry on the cake, spiced with personal anecdotes – I really enjoyed myself, before I’ll be getting more into the knots and bolts of it for a “professional” (I dream to) use. Your vision is in many points breaking some conventional thinking about writing, and I find everything reliable and insightful (about the use of adverbs and adjectives). I liked the pathologist’s lens – your very personal perspective, or contribution to the perspective; I agree that the editor can bring a magic wand or a sledge-hammer in a crystal shop. If I could wrap your vision in a nutshell: in writing laws are good, dogmas are not. I totally agree, and I observed the same, in my own experience. It totally deserves a place among other writing-about-writing papers on the Amazon, but I think that you could even enrich it more with equally insightful observations/recommendations in other aspects of writing fiction: character? Plot?
          The girl Jewish-Japanese – is amazingly reminding me of my visiting some shrines in Kyoto this last November, where incidentally I came to be aware of this possible Jewish – Japan connection. I am not sure how did Johanna come to your mind – I mean, I think I understood how you could recognize something of your wife in her, but I refer to the pairing Japanese-Jewish: why this, particularly (it could have been anything: American- Swedish, or whatever.) Is it particularly because the two cultures inspire you in any particular way? If so, maybe you could be interested in reading this relatively short article at this site:

          In your kindly and length-generous response, I found interesting and useful your thoughts on depression and on the gene that gets to be activated with predilection in creative people, according to the psychologist author. In this case, it explains the now popular fact that depression affects intelligent people, and usually it hits the hardest at the end of thirties (I have in my intention to write about that – patterns…). But it’s not my husband who is being depressive (although he IS especially intelligent in my eyes, and not only), it’s me – totally out of it, I dare say. It’s been though, the best thing it ever happened in my life: I died, to be born again.
          I cannot tell you how I have found myself in so many ways in your personal journey – and this is good reason for me to be amazed once more at how we, humans are brothers and sisters in so many ways. This will motivate me the more (as if more incentives were needed) to explore the unseen patterns that we all are subjected to.
          I have, like you said, my own rainbow day when I read your response – it touched me in so many ways – it is amazing how dependent (deprived, maybe??) of a sign of recognition and validation of our work we all are, which, at our age, I think, is about legacy, identity, scope and meaning what our life is for.
          – It makes so much sense when you have considerable traffic, which is not my case yet, and this is why I particularly appreciate your long, soul-nourishing response; therefore, do not feel compelled to another response, I can perfectly understand, as I respect your decision to cut off comments.


          1. I finally found this thread! I’m so disorganized. Sorry, my google chrome crashed and I lost track of about 50 tabs I had open. Finding yours in the “History” area took some time. There was probably an easier way that I didn’t think of.

            My wife is Japanese-American, 3rd generation and I’m of Scottish descent, so our kids are “Hapa.” The idea for having Johanna be half Jewish just felt right intuitively. I’m a big Einstein fan, so that probably explains it. Johanna’s friend, Maxwell is another type of “Hapa.” His mother wants to call herself “Persian,” I think. His last name is “Mason” which I think is English. He’s a little old her she – 25 and she’s 19, but still they’re going to fall in love eventually, I hope. (I try to plan things sometimes, but it’s almost as if the characters won’t do things my way. Very strange, but that’s why I love writing fiction.)

            By the way, would it be OK with you if I quoted some of your incredibly generous comments about my story and my e-book? I was thinking I might quote you somewhere on my blog – someplace where I’m trying to encourage people to take a look at Johanna’s story. I would, of course, put a link to your blog in there. (It’s the only honest thing to do.)

            Wow, that article on Japan is interesting. I’m fairly convinced that there is a real connection. In my wildest dreams I never would have imagined it. But all those similarities between the Shinto religion and the ancient Jewish religion. Amazing! This will give me something new to put in my story for sure. Thank you so much!

            You mentioned traffic – I didn’t have much for about two years. I had read the advice on how you should go read other people’s blogs and follow them if you like them. But I didn’t want to “play that game.” I’ve always had a tendency to avoid “the game” at work where politics was so important and I didn’t want to be political. But finally I just started reading and following as many blogs as I had time using the reader’s “search engine” as a source of blogs on specific subjects that I’m interested in. I was surprised that people started following me right away. It wasn’t long before I was spending literally all my writing time answering comments (and not writing fiction). So at that point I turned off my comments with a heavy heart. I really miss that aspect of blogging, so I’m going to invent a time machine… hahaha. I wish. But really, I hope to be able to turn on my comments again. But I really must focus on finishing Johanna’s novel first. (I hope Kindle allows a ton of pictures and links.)

            Thank you for you great advice on making my e-book better. When I’m done with the novel I’ll get back into that and get rid of some of the bushiness, add some chapters about plot and other important topics that you mentioned.

            Please let me know if it would be OK to use your glowing comments. Thanks!

            All my best,


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