If 2+2=5, then bertrand russel is the pope!

  • Thread starter Entropia
  • Start date
  • #1
138
1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Inconsistant logical systems are not useful in getting at "the truth". The following is a cute "proof" by Bertrand Russel:

If 2+2=5...
that means 4=5...
so, lets subtract 2 from each side...
that gives us...
2=3....
transposing, we have 3=2...
now, lets subtract 1 from each side...
2=1...
Now, since the Pope and Russel are two different people, and 2=1...
Therefore, the Pope and Russel are one.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
HallsofIvy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
41,833
955
It's not necessary to be that complicated.
In general, If p is a false statement then
p=> q
is true for any statement q:

The direct statement: "if (2+2= 5) then Bertrand Russel is the pope" is a true statement.
 
  • #3
252
1
There is an anecdote about this demonstration (I do not know if this really happened).It is said that during a public lecture Russell was making the remark that from a contradictory set of axioms practically everything can be deduced.At this a man from the public interrupted the lecture and challenged him to prove that from 4=5 results that he is the Pope.Which he brilliantly did...

In another sequence of ideas [my comments are general,possible you know very well,I do not intend to sell flowers to the gardener] the necessity to avoid internal incoherences is what make epistemology so important:its task in mathematics and applied sciences is to establish whether the scientific hypotheses (or the axioms of mathematics) are coherent therefore acceptable logically:all sets of premises (including axioms) must have internal consistence.Indeed in order to be experimentally adequate all scientific hypotheses must pass first the logical test.

Is logic a feature of reality?Well,there is no necessary connection between ontological reality and logic (since logic is a feature of human reasoning).From the fact that we understood so many facts about nature using conceptualizations based on logic does not follow that this will always be the case;in fact there are enough many scientists who are skeptical about the prospects of finding a 'theory of everything' exactly due to this problem.
Anyway,as Einstein once remarked,it is a real miracle that we have been able to understand so many things so far...
 
Last edited:

Related Threads on If 2+2=5, then bertrand russel is the pope!

  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
3K
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
13
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
1K
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
913
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
10
Views
2K
Top