Equivalent is not the same as equal

5×4=5+5+5+5

Following accepted logic, this equation appears to be correct. But, it’s not – 5×4 is equivalent to 20 not 5+5+5+5.

To come up with the wrong answer required the application of school training – a question comes in front of the equal sign and therefore the answer is on the other side of the equal sign.  Except, in life, it doesn’t work that way. In performing the calculation, it may be said that the brain has worked too fast because it already calculated the sum of 5+5+5+5 and presented 20 as the answer even though the product of the calculation is not the question being asked.

To derive the correct answer one must begin by looking at semantics. Yes, Right and Wrong really does boil down to splitting hairs over the definition of certain words. Equal is defined as, “being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value.”  Whereas equivalent is defined as, “equal in value, amount, function, or meaning.”

5 copies of 4 may well be equal to but not necessarily equivalent to 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 and 4 copies of 5 might be the same but, in reality, could represent something completely different. For example, 4 bunches of 5 bananas is different from 5 bunches of 4 bananas even though they total to the same number of bananas.

Liars will argue the slightest difference in the meaning of words, cloaking the bigger picture by tying us up in detail, using the minutiae of semantics as the basis for legitimising their version of reality. 

Most sane people know that the remorseless drip, drip, drip of semantics can only lead straight up the backside of a mental breakdown.

© Rod McRiven 2020

Photo by: Rosemary Ketchum

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