How many apples?
August 13, 2022 5:03 PM   Subscribe

How many apples? [via mefi projects]

Description of image:
First row: Conjoined twin apple, apple core, that stage where the apple flower has fallen off but the apple is still embryonic (or whatever the fruit equivalent is)
Second row: red apple sterotype, 3 very rotten apples, apple pear.

Bonus:
I haven't read it, but this might help if you really want to get into the weeds: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's article on definitions.
posted by aniola (33 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
No apples. It's just a bunch of 1s and 0s.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:17 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


No Fruit Truth
posted by chavenet at 5:34 PM on August 13


Just like last time this was posted (with the porn), my reaction is “what is this even supposed to mean??”. Like, if it’s something more than a picture illustrating the fact that definitions are slippery business, could someone please explain it to me?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:35 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Thinking of Lockean real essence as a sort of definition strikes me as bizarre.
posted by oddman at 5:37 PM on August 13


As a sometimes teacher of math and more often teacher of science, this is an excellent image to save for a day when those two high-achiever students just need something to fight about.
posted by Acari at 5:53 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


To be clear, my interpretation is totally that definitions are slippery business.
That is definitely news to many many people!
posted by Acari at 5:54 PM on August 13


🍎 🍎 🍎 🍎
posted by clavdivs at 5:56 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Level 2 is "how many heaps of apples?"
posted by BungaDunga at 5:56 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Four? Five?

What lights?
posted by gwint at 5:56 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Heh, I once got 750 words for my college newspaper out of basically this issue -- my college dining hall allowed you to take one item of food (piece of fruit, bagel) out of the dining hall with you on the unlimited plan. My roommate had grabbed an apple and cut it in half so that she could take half with her to class and put half away for later that evening. We were stopped by the exit monitor, who told us we were only allowed to take ONE item and she had TWO items.

We argued for a couple of minutes before giving in and giving up half the apple, and I turned it into a story about us using every department at the university to argue that it was ONE item rather than TWO items -- mathematics (fractions!), philosophy (Plato!), theology (the Trinity!), economics, linguistics, marketing, English lit, biology -- and the exit monitor shooting us down repeatedly.

I was incredulous and irritated, but also thought it was hilarious, so I turned it into a column for the paper. It was such a popular little essay, between the ridiculous (and familiar) bureaucracy and the departmental call-outs, that my poor roommate became notorious as the "half-apple girl." She was not happy.

So naturally I wrote a second column apologizing to her for writing it, and detailing all the alternative columns I could have written about the nutty things she did.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:59 PM on August 13 [29 favorites]


But I only count them apples.
posted by bendy at 6:04 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


apple-pen, pineapple-pen
posted by clavdivs at 6:05 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Eyebrows, would you share the story?
posted by bendy at 6:06 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Ceci n'est pas une pomme.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:10 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


"Eyebrows, would you share the story?"

I don't know if it's been digitized! I'm trying to find it online in the archives, but it was before the student newspaper published online and some of the digitizing was a bit spotty! I'll share if I find it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:24 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I’m going with eight (8). I’m counting the twins as two (2) and the bud as none, since it’s not yet reached the stage commonly thought of as “apple”. The rest, edible or not, are all some part of the lifecycle of “apple”.

There’s also the argument for “none”, since this merely a digital photo of apples, but I’m just sticking with the surface interpretation.

Anyone got a problem with that?

Waves paring knife around
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 6:31 PM on August 13


JustSayNoDawg, this is philosophy the correct threat is to wave a poker.
posted by oddman at 8:23 PM on August 13


King Solomon can handle that first one is all I'm saying.
posted by symbioid at 8:42 PM on August 13


pair   pared      perianth
par    perished   pear
posted by aws17576 at 9:12 PM on August 13 [15 favorites]


If I can't eat it, I've got no use for it.
posted by panglos at 12:51 AM on August 14


King Solomon can handle that first one is all I'm saying.

People seem to have the idea that Solomon cut a baby in half…..
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:10 AM on August 14


FWIW, this was partly inspired by arguments about critical theory and trans rights. There's a section of folks (exemplified by people like James A. Lindsay) who claim to be "defending Western civilization" from "the madness of the far left" using logic and math and the unassailable fact that 2+2 never equals 5.

Specifically, it was inspired by arguments in the comments on this Sabine Hossenfelder video, 2+2 Doesn't Always Equal 4. Hossenfelder doesn't get into critical theory or trans rights at all, but some of the commenters felt that those issues were part of the hidden danger of examining the limitations of math in the real world too closely. And they almost always used apples as their counting example.

It goes back to a very old philosophical debate, which I've begun to suspect may be tied to different psychological profiles: Can you say absolutely definitive things about the real world?

People who say "yes" to that question tend to be attracted to ideas of absolute right and wrong, only two sexes and anything else is a defect, and math as something that gives us absolute truth about the world.

People who say "no" to that question tend to be attracted to ideas of contextual right and wrong, sexual variability, and math as a useful tool that can help us think about the real world but can fail if you lean on it too blindly - as you do whenever you use apples as an example of something that's easy to count.
posted by clawsoon at 4:48 AM on August 14 [5 favorites]


The result I got when I fed the image to Google Lens says something interesting about the remaining differences between human and AI cognition, I think:

- 2 apples
- 1 apple core
- 1 genetically modified freeze-dried pig heart
- 1 meteorite
- 1 Asian pear
posted by clawsoon at 5:11 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


There… are… 4… lights
posted by Mchelly at 5:51 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Can you say absolutely definitive things about the real world?

Sure you can, but if you do I'll start taking all of your opinions far less seriously.
posted by flabdablet at 7:59 AM on August 14


We had this before. 42
posted by StephenB at 11:14 AM on August 14


A mathematician, an engineer, and a statistician are asked, "What is 2 + 2?"

The mathematician says, "4"

The engineer says, "4... but let's make it 5 just to be safe."

The statistician closes the door, leans in, and whispers, "What do you want it to be?"
posted by AlSweigart at 7:32 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


Can you say absolutely definitive things about the real world?

Sort of
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 1:55 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


The statistician closes the door, leans in, and whispers, "What do you want it to be?"

Statistician objecting here. Much more likely is "somewhere around 4 probably but the only data source they gave us is preschool homework so expect some serious error bars".
posted by solarion at 2:33 AM on August 15


2 + 2 = 5 for any value of 2 ≥ 2.25.
posted by flabdablet at 3:39 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


2 + 2 = 5 for any value of 2 ≥ 2.25.
No! That should say >, not ≥. Four and a half should be rounded down to 4, as 4 is even. You don't always round up a half, and I will die on this hill.
posted by agentofselection at 10:45 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


You don't always round up a half

Indeed I do, because I am not a banker, and am therefore opposed to stealing. The even integers have no right to appropriate any of the roundings that rightfully belong to their odd neighbours, and I refuse to participate in their even-supremacist conspiracy.
posted by flabdablet at 11:14 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


I have never (until now, obviously) heard of rounding down .5 values for even numbers! It smacks of dishonesty and inconsistency and I shall not allow it. My many seconds of research into this heretofore unknown heresy confirms I am right, even more so when the number is already rounded in some way to the .5 in the first place! No.

Also, 2 + 2.26 does not equal 5. There is inadequate evidence to support the idea that both 2s are the same value.
posted by dg at 5:04 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


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