The Corner

Re: Jonah and Math

Derb can probably set me right here if I’m wrong, but I believe there’s an apocryphal story involving Bertrand Russell’s assertion of the related proposition that once a contradiction is allowed into a closed system anything can be proven. Supposedly someone in the audience yelled out a challenge: If 2 plus 2 equals 5, prove that I am the pope. Russell shot back: If 2 plus 2 is 5, then 4 is 5; if 4 is 5, then (subtracting three from each side) 1 is 2; you and the pope are two, therefore you and the pope are one.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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