Ronni and Brittany talk about George Orwell’s book 1984 and why shared language and fundamental truths such as 2+2=4 are so important to our world.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Ronnie: Hi, Brittany,
Brittany: Hi, Ronnie.
Ronnie: So, I know earlier we talked and you said that you didn’t really like math very much, but I do not, but I kind of wanna talk about some math stuff. I’ll allow it. although I have to be honest, it’s talking about math, but it’s actually not talking about math at all. So I wanna talk about a very, very simple equation, two plus two equals four. You can handle that, right?
Brittany: I think I can handle that.
Ronnie: Yeah. Good. Okay, good. so I wanna actually talk about this for two reasons, but first, so fun fact about me that I used to teach math, but when I was in school, I didn’t really like math very much. It was okay. I wasn’t bad at it, but I wasn’t huge.
Brittany: I can relate.
Ronnie: I wasn’t a huge fan. It was just a thing I had to do. It wasn’t until later when after college I decided to go back to school and get my teaching credentials. And I had this really wonderful idea of, Hey, I bet if I had a math teaching credential, it would make me more marketable. So, I went back and I took some classes on, some review classes on math so that I could pass my math test in order to teach it. And in that process, when I was suddenly teaching myself math, I discovered how much I loved it, how much I discuss it, I loved all the underlying patterns, and it felt as though it was some like, mysterious answer to the universe. But, so I learned to really love it on a deeper level. So now I like math a lot, but I like to tell that story because I think there’s a lot of people who think they don’t like math. And really it’s just, it depends on how you’re understanding math. So who knows, maybe someday you’ll grow to like it a little bit more. Okay, so two ways that I wanna talk about math. First. Have you heard of the book? I assume you have 1984 by George Orwell.
Brittany: Yes, I have.
Ronnie: Yes. I mean, it’s a great book. I know it’s not really a kid’s book, so depending on the age of our readers, it might not quite be appropriate for them. Maybe some teenagers. But even if you’re not reading it yet or might not read it for a few years, it’s still got a lot of really interesting concepts in it. It’s a dystopian future type of book. and even though it was written in the 1940s, it was written in the 1940s, about 1984. So it was the future then. And of course, we’re way past that in our future now. But what’s interesting is that a lot of the things that are written in the book almost feel very similar, the things that are happening to today.
Brittany: No, I think you’re right. Yeah. And I’m sorry to say that, I think you’re right, but you know, Connor and I talked about this and it didn’t end up happening, thank goodness, but we almost had the Ministry of Truth or whatever, remember?
Ronnie: That was really crazy. And I’m so thankful that enough people spoke up about it and they shut that down. ’cause that was pretty insane. But one of the things that are in Big Brother is the idea that you’re always being watched by this like huge ominous power that, isn’t just watching you, but can actually read your thoughts. And so there’s the thought police, and if you are thinking the wrong thing, they’ll come after you and then they’ll throw you in camps and they’ll retrain your brain and reeducate you so that you think the right thing that you were supposed to think along the party line. So that’s one of the big things about, 1984. And one of the ways that they explain this concept is with the math equation, two plus two equals four, because two plus two equals four is pretty simple truth that everyone knows, right?
Brittany: Yes, Or the audience. I’m asking both,
Ronnie: I guess. but in the book, they say if someone like Big Brother or someone like this, you know, ominous government force can convince somebody of a very simple truth like two plus two equals four, but convince them that, that’s wrong and that instead something like two plus two equals five is true. If you can convince somebody of something that’s a non-truth, then you pretty much have control over them completely because you have control over all their thoughts. You have control over what they know to be reality. So.
Brittany: Or is it I going with that you’ll find it. You’re good.
Ronnie: So what’s really interesting in today’s world as far as, yeah, we can talk about like the ministry of truth also kind of ties in, but there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now where words are being like we’re redefining words to mean things that they don’t mean. We can think about this. Did you remember reading about how they changed the definition of the word vaccine? Like last year?
Brittany: Yes. That was crazy. Yes. And what it meant to be, ’cause it was a vaccine, like, a skeptic or whatever, it also changed. Yeah. I don’t remember what the details were or what they changed it to.
Ronnie: It was something about how a vaccine, used to be, that it produced immunity, immunity to a disease. So that was the key. It produced immunity and then they changed it to that it only produces protection. So whereas, a vaccine used to actually keep you from getting something, now it merely just protects you. and so they changed that. And then they also changed, that, they also changed that a vaccine instead of, being something that stimulates the immune system to produce the immunity, they did it too, something that is used to stimulate the immune response, which is a, it doesn’t feel very different, but it is a little bit different. It’s actually a very huge difference. Instead of saying, we’re creating the immunity now, we’re just prodding your immune system to maybe do something.
Brittany: You know, they also changed the definition. I remember on Joe Rogan’s show, we talked about this, they changed the definition of what an anti-vaxxer meant.
Ronnie: Oh, they did? What was that?
Brittany: It used to just be like, oh, like if you googled anti-vaxxer was, oh, you know, somebody who doesn’t get vaccines is, you know, morally against getting vaccines. And they changed it to anyone who questions vaccines. Which is a big difference because I know a lot, I have a lot of friends that got the vaccine because they felt like they had to, they felt pressure, but they don’t agree with it, you know? So it’s funny to me because yeah, it just, it made anybody who just even questions it an anti-vaxxer, which I just thought was interesting.
Ronnie: Oh, that is really interesting.
Brittany: It’s all about language, how you choose to mess with language like you said.
Ronnie: Absolutely. So, going back to we’re gonna bring math back in two plus two equals four in like summer of 2020. This is here in the middle of COVID when the world’s all kind of changing. As for myself, I’m learning more about what is actually happening in the world. So it was a very big kind of awakening summer for me. But I came to find out that there are actual professors at prestigious universities that are teaching that two plus two can equal five. And they’re teaching this in a way of, oh, this is a creative thought experience experiment. We’re teaching you to think outside of the box, how can you make two plus two equal five? And there was this whole, I found out about it because I was on Twitter. I know our audience hopefully is not on Twitter, but on Twitter, I discovered this whole debate going on between, people who see who normally would look to be extremely intelligent, working or teaching or students at, you know, very highly esteemed universities. And they are arguing that two plus two can equal five depending on how you define it. The terms two and two and plus and equals, and four and five. And this was like mind-boggling to me as a math teacher, as someone who grew to love math, because I saw it as, you know, this, like concrete foundations of the universe. I didn’t understand why they would be changing, why they would be trying to like to destroy everything. To me it felt like a big deal, right? Because I guess, ’cause I like math, I’m like, you destroy math, you destroy everything.
Brittany: Well, but numbers are important because as you’re kind of alluding to, is that they’re universal truths. you know, and it’s funny, I love things like philosophy that you can debate and you know, entertain different ideas. But part of the reason that numbers are so important is because A equals A, as Aron said, You know It is universal objective truth.
Ronnie: Yeah. And it was really interesting reading through some of the ways in which people were trying to explain how two plus two could equal five. Now, many of the ways I’ll admit were things that probably are a little bit confusing for people who might not be familiar with either computer programming or higher level math, because it was, it did things where it’s kind of, redefining the values of what different numbers mean. But one way that probably most of our audience can understand is they would say things like, oh, take the number 2.4 now 2.4 that can round to two, right? So if you have 2.4, which rounds to two plus 2.4, which rounds to two, that would equal, 4.8, which rounds to five. So therefore you would have two plus two equals five. But of course that doesn’t make sense at all. Do you, why? Like, do you have any idea why that wouldn’t make sense? Does it like ringing a bell in your head? Like what’s something’s off?
Brittany: Yeah, but that’s the thing nowadays, right? It’s like, oh no, we can, you know, in fact, I even heard somewhere it’s like, oh yeah, but actually thinking the two plus two is four is like racist and stuff like that. It’s just so silly.
Ronnie: It really is. But that was this whole thing. I’m in the summer of 2020, and that’s when I was paying really close attention. I don’t know if there’s still, people are still debating that, but it was a legitimate debate in the, you know, prestigious mathematical circles of two plus two equaling five. So of course, I immediately thought of the book 1984, which the whole premise of the book is if you can convince somebody of a deep truth that it is not true. So you can change someone’s reality that you have complete control over them. And that’s what’s happening in today’s world as we’re changing language, not just math language, but the language of the meaning of the word vaccine or vaccinated or anti-vaxxer. and so understanding language and having consistent language, it’s extremely important. And it’s interesting to me that that’s happening in today’s world, that we’re changing the language so much, even on something as foundational as math.
Brittany: Yes. you know, it’s nuts.
Ronnie: Yeah. so I know, yeah, I know it seems small maybe to a lot of other people, but I do think it’s something that is worth thinking about. And as you know, the math teacher and me, I’m a math purist and two plus two always equals four. And that is not just my truth. That is the truth.
Brittany: No, I think that’s absolutely right. And it’s crazy. You know, we’ve talked about, you know, critical race theory and things like that in this show before. And if you look at the goal of these, you know, kind of social justice warriors, one of their biggest tools in trying to change public perception is changing the meaning of words. That’s like one of their biggest things because they know how important words are, right? And us dictating our meaning, deciding what things mean. So, you know, it’s crazy that they would do that. Change the meaning of math. That’s just absolutely nuts to me. Well, any closing thoughts, Ronnie?
Ronnie: My closing thought is just that two plus two equals four,
Brittany: That’s all. That is Words to Live by Ladies and Gentlemen. I love it. Well, as always, do not forget to subscribe to the podcast and share with your friends and chime in and let us know what episodes you want us to do, what you want us to talk about. So until next time, we will talk to you later. Bye, guys.