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26 Aug 2010

1+1=2 or Does It?

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Challenging Assumptions

As is commonly known, viewing the same thing from different perspectives often alters that thing. One time, someone cited 1+1=2 as a “fact” that remained unchanged regardless of perspective. However, it really demonstrates the malleability of facts.

For instance, consider these four true expressions of 1+1:

  1. 1+1=2
  2. 1+1=10
  3. 1+1=11
  4. 1+1=1

The first is the normal arithmetic expression we learned in school; however, what we often overlook is that it uses just one type of numeric language called Base 10. The second example expresses the same thing but uses a numeric language called Binary. It’s even more widely used than our recognizable form because it’s the language of computers.

The third expression assumes that “1” is a shape. Imagine adding one spade to another to get two of them. We can express it symbolically as ♣ + ♣ = ♣♣. This is frequently the first “language” used to teach children arithmetic.

The fourth expression is a bit more difficult to see but is frequently used too. Consider the statement that one man plus one woman equals one couple. Another example would be a single drink which we make by adding one part A to one part B. Consider as well that one period of sunlight and one period of darkness equals one day. In these examples each “1” in the equation represents a unique item. In other words, they each represent one of something different rather one of the same thing as in the other three perspectives.

Thus, this exercise helps to train our minds to search for different perspectives and to demonstrate the importance of not just looking at the facts . . . but how they are interpreted.

Series Navigation<< How Challenging Assumptions Every Day Improves Problem SolvingChallenging Assumptions Example >>

5 Responses

  1. Two others:

    1+1=1 –> One person and one person on one team doing everything together

    1+1=3+ –> The work of one person and the work of one person on a team equals the work of three or more people when working effectively as a team

    1. Mike Lehr

      Thank you very much for the additions, John. I appreciate it! I’ll have to include in a sequel to this post. Thank you again for stopping by for a visit and connecting on LinkedIn. ~Mike

      1. Glad they made sense to you in the spirit of your original post. I’m subscribed to your blog and follow you on Twitter. Very good alignment of my thinking with your writing. Recommend your blog quite frequently as well.

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