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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


Discord feels Fluttershy needs to be a little more assertive when it comes to expressing her own views and maintaining her beliefs against the weight of other arguments, especially when those counter-debates turn... well, personal. Fluttershy doesn't want to risk it.

So Discord mentions a simple fact: two plus two equals five.

Fluttershy naturally disagrees.

It gets worse from there.

(A stand-alone, no prior-reading-necessary part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page (with new Recap section) and FIMFiction group: new members and trope edits are welcome.)

Now with author Patreon page.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 137 )

Fanfic Writer's Note:

Shortly before beginning work on this piece, I announced the title in a blog post. One person mentioned this work with the same title, written by Plumander -- well after I passed "too late" on the name change clock. As such, I just wanted to mention at the outset that this was coincidence, with no offense meant and hopefully none taken. I've spelled my title out to help distinguish the two in the search engine results, but other than that, things were left as originally composed.

Actually, 2+2 = "The color pink" except on Thursdays, when it = "a lb of ham & a loaf of bread." Both thinly sliced & spread w mustard.

I've never dealt w Discord, but I've dealt with a mother, 3 sisters, & numerous ex girlfriends over the years. :derpytongue2:

An intriguing idea as always, though it doesn't feel as solid as your other stuff. Discord is written beautifully, you always capture him really well.

The dog owner is never brought up again, or punished or even needed as anything more than a starting plot point, and that feels unusual for your writing. I don't see why Fluttershy hitting him is meant to be so meaningful. If she strikes another pony, especially if she takes the first shot, she's at fault. So, what exactly is he meant to be proving or teaching her, or the other ponies? That if you annoy her, she might hit you? It's more likely Discord would go after them I'd think.

Not a bad fic by any means, but not the strongest. No vote from me as I'm kinda neutral on it >.<

This was an interesting way to try and get ones point across

Estee #5 · Oct 1st, 2015 · · ·


So, what exactly is he meant to be proving or teaching her, or the other ponies?

Spoilered for those who haven't read the story yet.

That you can only engage in reasonable discussion with reasonable entities. As may be seen soon in another story, Thistle Burr doesn't qualify.

And other ponies are perfectly aware that kicking first is a legal issue. However, thanks to the audience and the inevitable flow of gossip, the locals are now aware that there is somepony in town who can kick Discord. Without consequence. That word will spread... and things may get a little easier.

Fluttershy's ranking on the Pony Scariness Index is not a low one. This bumped it up.

I try to write Discord -- or at least how many ponies perceive him post-release -- as juggling nitroglycerin while wearing gauntlets that happen to be on fire. You get one mistake. Anything which isn't perfection is a mistake.

I'm in love with this artwork .it bends the realm of rules but I guess discord do what ever he wants,

Neat. I liked this. You write a very intriguing Discord, that audience not remembering being poofed back and forth bit was inspired.

This has been a nice day. Let's check Fimfiction one last time, then...

Oh. The new Estee story is up. Well, I know I'm not getting any sleep until I've gone through this...

Ah. Discord has a better understanding of friendship than Fluttershy may realize. Still not a very good one, mind you, but he genuinely seems to want to see her happier, see her grow, see her improve. He wants to see her change for the better... though it's probably not a good idea to ask what "better" means to him. Discord is an excellent teacher once his students realize they're in a classroom, which generally only happens after they've learned the lesson.

And that hint of the future... Seems someone had a slip of the tongue. :trixieshiftright:

Excellent work as always, and as always, thank you for it.

to annoying to be entertaining, IMO


S'okay. If I didn't give at least one person flashbacks to their least favorite online discussion ever, I wasn't doing my unpaid job.

6478935 Don't beat yourself up about it
There's plenty of stories that share the same name
Fragments, Changing Views, heck, there's even another Triptych
Interesting and mind-screwing as always...
I need aspirin

What are you talking about is there a link? I need a link I need to be morally out raged at humanities( from the 18-25 age ranges) stupidity.

Well, Discord certainly was obnoxious enough to look like the Internet. You captured the feeling of being kicked in the teeth well. :facehoof: I swear, this is every argument by every nutjob ever. The only thing that is worth acknowledging agrees with them, everything else is corrupted crap. And yes, the only rules of the debate are those made up on the spot.

...That being said, this is indeed the kind of fic where there is an antagonistic presence in the form of random OC, who sort of disappears. Makes you wonder what another confrontation with Fluttershy would be like. It's not a bad thing, it's just easy to be curious about it.

And cue the arguments about which 'side' is the one that is being spoofed here. Because, ya know, there's only two possible viewpoints in the world and all.

Or maybe I've been reading too many political blogs lately ...

Discord was clearly trying to teach Fluttershy that if someone is acting like an idiotic jerk to her, she has to stand up to them. Or make hippos sit on them, whatever works.

6478935 Interesting philosophical representaion.

I'm lying. I have no idea what I'm reading.

I'm lying about lying. I am also lying about this being a philosophical representation.

I'm lying about the lying about the lying about the lying about this being a philosophical representation. It does represent an interesting growth. This should be an episode in the main series.

I'll tell one more lie.

This was not good.


My facts are correct. What do yours say?

Actually, since Base 3 has the number 2 very much existant, the subscripts aren't really necessary. You just need a guy who knows what's up.

Next time on Fox News, Discord attempts to disprove global warming.

"I'm the cause. Every one of those flowing hairs in Celestia's mane I turn grey causes the world to get a little hotter."

Ponies react!

"We knew it!"

"It still snows where I live, so that's wrong too."

"If I smile and nod, can I try your camera? That'd be a pretty neat cutie mark..."

More at eleven.

Okay, this story does re-enforce my belief that Discord is an asshole, so it's got that going for it. However, he's such an asshole that you end up wondering why Fluttershy didn't go all the way and tell him to piss off. All throughout this story she keeps thinking that he isn't even her friend. So, when she stands up to him, why didn't she tell him to get out of her life?

6480201 They begin with different assumptions.
It's true only assuming you're using base 3. The problem is that without the subscript, it's generally assumed that any number is in base 10, disregarding scenarios that specifically call for something like binary - and even then it's obvious.

Great, Same old, same old.....Fluttershy dealing with a neurotic, childish mess with godlike powers. All he needs now is a Stratocaster and Raybans.

Discord is probably only slightly less troublesome and annoying as a friend than as an enemy. At least at this point.


Excellent work. I love how you portrayed Discord, even reformed, as appearing rather dangerous. This is good. Too often, Discord is portrayed as a harmless puppy dog, when in reality he would be terrifying to deal with for most ponies. Even here, while activity trying to be helpful, in his own way, he cut a rather menacing figure. I enjoyed the fic fully, well done :twilightsmile:

But if you just lacked the assumptions, where would be the fun?

This was interesting. First time I've read a story of Fluttershy and Discord interacting in such a way.

6480274 What the hay are you two talking about?


Discord is an excellent teacher once his students realize they're in a classroom, which generally only happens after they've learned the lesson.

Good sir, that is one of the most insightful things I have ever seen written about Discord. You get a cookie.
Mine say 1<or=1.

Well, that was... something. I'm not sure what, but something.

As I often do with Discord, I get the feeling here that Discord is a friend in the sense that an abusive spouse is a lover. Our heroes are expected to keep him around and entertain him not because they're friends but because if they don't, he will make them regret it. The actual lesson of various Discord episodes - that someone who treats you this way is not your friend - never seems to register.

*Counts forelegs one by one* "One. Two."
*Counts back legs one by one* "One. Two."
*Counts all legs together* "One. Two. Three. Four. No, Discord, I'm not going to count the fifth one because it was not there a second ago and you do not have the right to violate my bodily autonomy."

2+2=5 for large values of 2.


The really awful thing is that there is no number system in which 2+2=5.

Proof it! And cite reputable sources only!:derpytongue2:

Just going to leave this here, as per the will of the internet.


The really awful thing is that there is no numeral system in which 2+2=5.

float largeTwo = Float.intBitsToFloat(0x40200000);
float epsilon = Float.intBitsToFloat(0x3f7d70a4);
// This means largeTwo is equal to 2 within the margin for error specified by epsilon
assert Math.abs(largeTwo - 2f) < epsilon;
int five = (int)(largeTwo + largeTwo);
// Two plus two equals five for large values of two
assert five == 5;

0x40200000 is the hex representation of the bit coding of 2.9 in the IEEE 754 standard. 0x3f7d70a4 is similarly the representation for 0.99.


If one didn't completely lose perspective and/or go insane they'd surely learn a lot from the big D himself. And they'd have to do it, to keep a step ahead of said pitfalls.

6479437 You know, there's a Granny Weatherwax qoute out there that says something very similiar, something to the effect that in life you take the tests first, then get the lessons after.

There are many large values of two which are half of five. :trollestia:

As for x ≈ y, it is very difficult for floating point numbers to be exactly equal, especially once you start performing mathematical operations on the numbers. You never compare floats with ==, always with some epsilon value.

And fluttershy is a mare :trixieshiftright:


Exactly my point. A == with an epsilon is a ≈.

Not quite. An epsilon comparison is a means to obtain an approximation. We never even attempt to check exact equality, because it's basically a fruitless endeavor. A subtle but important difference.

However, in actual serious code (as opposed to joking around like I was earlier), the approximation we make is how we check for equality, because the binary representation of our floating point number can't generally accurately represent the number we're trying to use. For example, in much the same way you cannot accurately represent 1/3 in base-10 decimal notation (you get 0.333... when you try), you cannot accurately represent 1/10 (0.1) in binary.

Incidentally, this is why money should absolutely never ever ever be stored or manipulated as floating point values (single precision or double precision). Some languages have standard libraries for handling money, or you can store the value as an integer 100 times greater than the money it represents (so "int 475" instead of "float 4.75f")

Well. Apart from the fact that she wasn't actively referred to as a 'shill' and Discord didn't use YouTube or Naturalnews as a reputable source..... that was frighteningly accurate to RL. Almost painfully so.

Jorz #42 · Oct 1st, 2015 · · 18 ·

....This is a parody of social justice warriors right?
I really hope it is anyway.

One of these days, Discord is going to learn that there is only so far you can push other people before they have no further interest in you.

At some point, the excuse of playing trickster teacher loses its effectiveness and people see you for what you are: A sadistic child with the powers of a god. And they're going to seal you away again.

For good reason.


The dog owner is never brought up again, or punished or even needed as anything more than a starting plot point, and that feels unusual for your writing.

Discord was drowning him at the beginning of the story.

He thinks training a dog to bite makes the stallion a menace, while he happily drowns ponies he doesn't like.

There's just one problem with all this. Discord proves he's way worse than Burr, but he's above any true repercussions. It undermines the lesson he's trying to teach, which is not putting up with everything nasty a person does. Discord is living proof that it doesn't work, because she still has to put up with everything he does. It's in character for him since he's a huge hypocrite, though.

Good story is good... But one thing we can all agree on is that 1+ 1 = 3

6479480 Came for this reference.

Left satisfied.

6480825 No I don't got it. What's the ^ symbol mean?

6481011 OK you have all completly lost me. Why are you all math geniuses? What is up with the squigly equal sign and how did you make it? I got a headache.

6481011 the entire argument could have been done if she forced him to define "five" and "two" and "plus", but she wasn't smart enough to understand that math is a system where the rules are only what they are due to concensus.

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