It’s time to re-evaluate the whole “one-plus-one-equals-two” thing. It just never seemed right to me, so I did some research on it and learned some shocking things about this so-called “fact.”
First, we don’t even know who invented it. Was it based on real science, or is this just another one of those things our teachers told us to accept without questioning? And why was the inventor afraid to put his or her name on it?
Second, not everyone agrees with this “fact.” All it took was a few minutes on the Internet to find people – good people! – who make a very convincing case for 1+1=3. Yet, do we ever hear about them, or about their findings? No. In fact, math textbooks starting as young as first grade present 1+1=2 as established science, without even including a note that some people think this is wrong.
What is Big Math hiding? Why are they afraid of considering other possibilities? And more important, why are we – the citizens of this great country – basing our lives on something so demonstrably flawed?
Welcome to the 21st Century, where any fact can be called into question simply by saying that “some people” disagree. If you’re not scared by this, you are not paying attention. And if you’re Jewish and you’re not scared by this, you should read up on your history.
In the Middle Ages, innocent Jews were tortured and murdered every year, when mobs attacked us for killing Christian children and using their blood to make matzah. Aside from the gross absurdity of the idea, all it would take is the most basic knowledge of the laws of keeping kosher to know that Jews literally put salt on meat to remove any trace of blood before it is cooked and eaten. Yet we Jews died for centuries because our enemies didn’t let facts – actual, real, true things – get in the way of their hatred.
In 1903, Russian anti-Semites created The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a text which “proved” that Jews are plotting to take over the world. The noted industrialist and anti-Semite Henry Ford had a half-million copies printed and distributed in the United States in the early days of the 20th century, and it was required reading in German schools in the 1930s. This hoax showed the world that things don’t have to be true; if enough people believe them, they become true. Adolph Hitler later coined the phrase, “the Big Lie,” and used it with devastating results.
For many years, I taught a lesson on Holocaust Denial – the claim that the Holocaust never happened, and that Jews invented it to garner world sympathy for reparation payments and for the establishment of Israel. My text was a piece of satire claiming that Idaho doesn’t exist – that it is a fiction created by the Mapmaking Cartel. It is no sillier than my argument that 1+1=3… and no more correct than the claim that we Jews made up the Holocaust. Yet, if you Google “Holocaust Denial,” you will get 6,710,000 results (and no, I did not make that up. Check for yourself).
So when people today claim that global warming is a hoax, and point to “some people” who disagree with the findings of the vast majority of scientists from every country on earth, we Jews should pay special attention. When we see videos of people making outrageous statements, and then hear that “they didn’t say that,” we should do more than pay attention – we should be scared. And if we ever hear anyone – anyone – say that “everyone is lying except me,” we should be terrified. Because people who want to tell us that true is not true will never, ever have our best interests at heart.
In 2005, Stephen Colbert coined the word, “truthiness.” It is defined as, “the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.” The most appealing thing about “truthiness” is that it allows people to believe whatever they want, and find someone – anyone – who will validate their belief as true. But the sad truth about life is that not everything we want to believe is true, is actually true. Sometimes we’re not aware of all the facts; other times, we’re just plain wrong.
Science is based on creating theories and testing them in the real world. One plus one equals two because we have tested and proved it. Whether you like the result or not, whether it fits with your world-view or not, it is true.
My teacher, Dr. Leonard Kravitz, taught, “People say the truth will set you free. That may be so, but I’ll guarantee this: the truth will make you anxious.” Today, many people around the world have rejected the anxiety of dealing with facts, and have chosen instead to be soothed by convenient untruths. As a human being, this saddens me. As a Jew, it scares me.
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” And he wasn’t even Jewish!
Rabbi Don Weber