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Tue Aug 4, 2020, 04:16 PM


The "2 + 2 is only cultural" spoof came from James Lindsay

of the Sokal Squared fame!

James A. Lindsay, Peter Boghossian, and Helen Pluckrose came to prominence attacking 'Grievance Studies,' poor 'scholarship, and post-modernism. They published academic articles that were pure nonsense, but because they cloaked them in post-modern 'theory' they were published. (If you don't know who they are, it's an amusing story - well worth exploring)

Their interest is in taking on postmodernism. (They are all classic liberals, with liberal values).
They hate postmodernism.

In this case - Lindsay tweeted the nonsensical:

“2+2=4: A perspective in white, Western mathematics that marginalizes other possible values.”

And, like a charm, it worked! People picked it up and started to BELIEVE it.

One of those 'spoofed' came to the attention of someone here and a thread was posted about it:


Lindsay explains his project here:

8 replies, 1339 views

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Reply The "2 + 2 is only cultural" spoof came from James Lindsay (Original post)
janterry Aug 2020 OP
hunter Aug 2020 #1
Dr. Strange Aug 2020 #2
muriel_volestrangler Aug 2020 #3
janterry Aug 2020 #4
muriel_volestrangler Aug 2020 #6
janterry Aug 2020 #7
janterry Aug 2020 #8
janterry Aug 2020 #5

Response to janterry (Original post)

Fri Aug 7, 2020, 11:48 AM

1. Some people have mistaken sarcasm for actual arguments...

... others have mistaken arguments put forth by people who are serious (but blatantly wrong) for sarcasm.

This creates a bitter storm of internet controversy.

The people who can't laugh on either side (right or wrong) are the most offended.

BTW, my own response to that thread was sarcastic.

Or maybe not. Is it possible to count the electrons in empty space?


Is it even possible to count electrons?

John Wheeler proposed all electrons and positrons are actually manifestations of a single entity moving backwards and forwards in time.

It complicates things immensely if all the electrons we count are just the faces of a single electron that's very, very busy.

Engineering electronics today, especially on the scale of modern microprocessors and computer memories, requires a fairly sophisticated understanding of quantum mechanics. Naive interpretations of electronics, most especially the "water in a pipe" analogy where voltage is analogous to water pressure, and amps are analogous to the volume of water, turn out to be fairly useless. "Counting" electrons "flowing" through a conductor gets weird.

I've seen know-it-all techs heatedly arguing uselessly with physicists, no information being transferred in either direction, because their understanding of a problem isn't even on the same plane.

When a mathematician argues 2+2=4 they have very precise understandings of objects, integers, and operations. Other interpretations, especially those based in non-rigorous languages, can be dismissed.

The scary thing about human languages such as English -- and the most wonderful thing as well -- is that we can say things that are untrue, things that might be true, and things that are close enough to the truth for everyday use.

But science requires something more precise than "everyday use" and develops its own languages, especially the languages of mathematics.

If we don't know these languages of science we can't make scientific arguments, and it's silly to argue that 2 + 2 = 5 in some alternative context. If there really is some alternative context (not likely...) then it's up to the developer or observer of that context to create the rigorous language that explains it.

Otherwise they are simply stomping on the highly developed and precise languages of others, which may be the very crime they are accusing others of doing, the equivalent of some MAGA hat wearing fool in WalMart yelling "This is America, speak English!" to shoppers speaking Spanish in the checkout line.

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Response to janterry (Original post)

Fri Aug 7, 2020, 05:29 PM

2. Aha!

I thought he just jumped in after the Marshall tweet. I didn't realize he was ultimately the originator.

On the one hand, it's a stupid idea for satire by Lindsay. But I guess no matter how dumb something is, if it's couched in the right terminology, somebody (especially on Twitter) will buy into it.

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Response to janterry (Original post)

Sun Aug 9, 2020, 09:46 AM

3. Seems Lindsay (and Boghossian and Pluckrose)'s "liberal values" are backed by Christian Nationalists

Last Fall, there was a conference held in London, the Sovereign Nations conference. The ‘star’ speakers were Peter Boghossian, Helen Pluckrose, and James Lindsay, so you already know where this is going — the “grievance studies” whiners got together in London to howl at the moon and complain about how they were losing the culture war. The twist here is these were atheists gathering under the leadership of a Christian Nationalist group led by Michael O’Fallon. Curiously, I first heard about this event because Richard Dawkins endorsed it, because apparently he’s a big fan of Boghossian and assumed that anything he was willingly entangled with would be part of the godless agenda. Unfortunately, Sovereign Nations is more focused on Christian conservatism, opposing immigration, complaining about the World Health Organization, and hating George Soros. I guess the Boghossian/Pluckrose/Lindsay trio are willing to overlook their association with an organization dedicated to Catholic dominion because they share a mutual contempt for social justice. If you must, you can read an account of their conference. Or you can read Godless Spellchecker’s live tweeting of the con (curiously, there’s also a strong association between Sovereign Nations and the Mythcon asstwinks.)

They’ve since moved on to creating a new blog, New Discourses, with those three prominently featured; right now, Lindsay seems to be providing most of the content, if you really need a day of reading bad writing and bizarre logic. The discombobulating thing is that New Discourses is Sovereign Nations media, owned by Michael O’Fallon, who wants to promote conservative Christian Nationalism, and yet these arch-rationalist/skeptics/self-proclaimed liberals are willingly associating themselves with the religious right.

It’s a somewhat surprising fellowship until you recognize that there are two things that unite them: a hatred of social justice, diversity, and racial equality, and…MONEY. They’ve been bought and paid for by O’Fallon.

Aaron Rabinowitz provides an excellent analysis of these repulsive bedfellows and their filthy philosophical positions and the Kama Sutra of twisty rationalizations they use to bring them together on the Embrace the Void podcast. Listen to that…it’s a mind-boggling hour of revelations. Did you know that the pandemic is a social justice warrior conspiracy to take over the country?


The purpose of Sovereign Nations is best understood as a prolegomenon to the formation of a new, and not just sentimental, conservative and Constitutional Republic. Sovereign Nations serves as an exploration of the intellectual viability of the conservative political habitat, with a view to establishing the groundwork for the construction and elaboration of a broader and more comprehensive vision for the movement in relation to the exegetical intent of our founders through our national founding documents. The essential precondition for a renewed conservative engagement with intellectual life is confidence in its own coherence and credibility.


"Sovereign Nations" is established around a conspiracy theory that George Soros is trying to undermine the USA, and is embracing the "WHO/China are attacking the USA with coronavirus" crap. Until July 2019, the above "About Us" including the following:

As can be seen over the past 8 years, the goal of Open Society Foundations is to demean and destroy the tenets of traditional conservatism and thus create a crisis of conscience within the mind of the conservative. In order to succeed, we must rebuild the confidence in the presuppositions of conservatism in all of its exercised forms including in economics, civil liberties, family, sovereignty, theology, rule of law, and foreign affairs. What was once heresy is now law and what was once law is now heresy. The issue for progressive Open Society Foundations is that their new “law” has no foundational presupposition.

It is our hope to engage with the ideas and concepts that are at the center of Open Society Foundations without descending into ad hominem argumentation. We would seek to be upfront with our disagreements, respect our philosophical and ideological opponents, and look forward to creating a common ground of open discussion.


(no, no, god forbid they descend into ad hominem argumentation after accusing OSF of demeaning and destroying conservatism, putting forward "heresy" and having ideas about law without foundation)

Still prominent on its home page:

Much more in the (hour long) Aaron Rabinowitz podcast linked to above.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 9, 2020, 10:04 AM

4. They are classic liberals


Your so-called research is nonsense.

Look them up, they say quite clearly who they are and what they believe.

They eschew postmodernism (and most researchers do)

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Response to janterry (Reply #4)

Sun Aug 9, 2020, 10:37 AM

6. They use the words "postmodernism" as a ridiculous strawman

Lindsay's attempts to define it are unreadable crap. Meanwhile, he's collaborating with O'Fallon, who claims that advocating "social distancing" to cut the spread of coronavirus is a conspiracy to get "social justice" accepted. O'Fallon is a far right loon, and Lindsay's hatred of "social justice" has led him to partner a right-wing nutjob.

The more I find out about Lindsay, the worse he looks. If you want to find out what postmodernism actually is, I recommend this (as the author says, this actually makes use of primary sources, whereas, ironically, Lindsay's flailing attempts ignore primary sources completely).


And Lindsay tries to tie it to "Cultural Marxism", which is a guarantee he's full of shit on the subject. Invocations of "Cultural Marxism" lead back to a conspiracy theory from a far right group of nutcases in the 1990s.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #6)

Sun Aug 9, 2020, 11:32 AM

7. Oh, I've read the postmodernists


I prefer the scientific method

ETA: If you disagree with Lindsay, you should quote his ideas. I'm sure they are open to refutation (as all good science is

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #6)

Sun Aug 9, 2020, 12:25 PM

8. here at



not marxism. postmodernism

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 9, 2020, 10:17 AM

5. because you have not engaged with their ideas


the best place to start is wikipedia:

Pluckrose described herself and her collaborators as being "left-wing liberal sceptics." She stated that a core reason for why they wanted to carry out the project was to convince other "leftist academics" that there was a problem with "corrupted scholarship" in academic fields that were "based on identity politics and postmodernism."[4] She argued that in rejecting modernism, much postmodernist-derived scholarship was also rejecting science, reason, and liberal democracy, and thus undermining many important progressive gains.[4] Pluckrose also expressed concern that, in both foregrounding the importance of group identity and facilitating the growth of post-truth by claiming that there is no objective truth, this postmodernist theory was contributing to "the reactionary surge to the right" seen in many countries during the 2010.

There is no doubt that the three do not agree with post-modernism. As someone loosely trained in the scientific method - I concur - I am a fallibilist --as are most scientists and serious researchers. (Though please note, I am neither! Just trained a little

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