How many apples?
March 29, 2022 11:52 PM   Subscribe

How many apples?
A couple of years ago, Harvard statistics PhD student Kareem Carr ignited a firestorm of debate when he talked about 2+2=5. Apples kept coming up in the debate as the quintessential example of a countable thing. "I have two apples. I get two more apples. Now I have four apples. Always. Math is never wrong." For some reason the example was always apples. Thinking about that finally bore fruit in the making of this: How many apples do you count in this image?

I'm interested to know your answer to the question posed in the image.

Yes, this is the simplest, stupidest project I have done.
Role: philosomiphizing, stealing stock footage
posted by clawsoon (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This project was posted to MetaFilter by aniola on August 13, 2022: How many apples?

Worst captcha ever.
I say 4, though I can't really defend it:
2 1 0
1 0 0
posted by mpark at 2:18 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


8 for me...

2 1 0
1 3 1

Now I’m questioning what I think of as an apple though, so reserve the right to change my answer
posted by one4themoment at 3:41 PM on March 30


Now I’m questioning what I think of as an apple though, so reserve the right to change my answer

My hope is to shake your faith in the universal usefulness of numbers.

Oh, and one of them is a pear.
posted by clawsoon at 3:59 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I think this is less a statement about mathematics than it is a statement about the philosophy of language (see, e.g., this comic about hot dogs and sandwiches).
posted by jedicus at 8:22 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


It's possible that I wrote a statement about the uses of math and you read a statement about the philosophy of language. :-) Something something authorial intent, something something post-structuralism...
posted by clawsoon at 7:20 PM on March 31


🍊? sinaasappel = China-apple in Dutch.
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:39 AM on April 1


I fed the image to Google Lens. It saw:

- 2 apples
- 1 apple core
- 1 genetically modified freeze-dried pig heart
- 1 meteorite
- 1 Asian pear

...which I think says something interesting about the human tendency/ability to generalize from context.
posted by clawsoon at 4:19 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


My hope is to shake your faith in the universal usefulness of numbers.

I must disappoint you, then.

The problem here is not with quantitative thinking. It's with the ambiguity of the term "apple".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:16 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I count six.

1 1 0
1 3 0 (unable to determine apple-ness from this picture; inconclusive is 0 because it can't be 1)
posted by penduluum at 8:30 AM on April 5


I don't think it's true that we if looked at each picture (or part of a picture) individually and agreed (yes or no) whether or not it was one apple that we might still disagree about how many there were.
posted by straight at 9:49 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I see that this was posted to the front page... and people mentioned that there are NSFW ads on the site, which led to the post being deleted. So sorry! I run an ad-blocker and had no idea.

Anybody have suggestions for a better image host I should use?
posted by clawsoon at 4:11 PM on April 5


Your "apology" feels very hollow since you are now aware that you are spreading porn but you still haven't taken down the site.
posted by Umami Dearest at 7:27 PM on April 5


Hello! I posted this to the front page because I found it silly and easy and charming but also had absolutely no idea or knowledge about the ads; I also apologize for inadvertently exposing anyone to any of that. I liked the small discussion here and thought seeing others' thoughts via a FPP would be interesting. Obviously erred.
posted by youarenothere at 7:53 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Umami Dearest: Your "apology" feels very hollow since you are now aware that you are spreading porn but you still haven't taken down the site.

I'm not even sure how I'd do that. I uploaded it anonymously, and I'm not seeing any kind of "delete" button when I visit the link. Any help would be appreciated if you know a way.
posted by clawsoon at 8:24 PM on April 5


I've asked the mods to replace the links in this post.
posted by clawsoon at 8:40 PM on April 5


[Links fixed! ]
posted by travelingthyme at 9:12 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Thanks!

And now I wish I had titled the post, "You can't count apples."
posted by clawsoon at 9:31 PM on April 5


Or, How do you like them apples?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:15 PM on August 13


« Older Brain Tape...   |   Pokenons... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.