If you ever need to escape from a geek in a hurry, ask him whether it’s more correct to say “two and two IS five” or “two and two ARE five”. By the time he’s worked out what needs correcting first, you’ll be long gone. The geek unit of currency is trivial knowledge, and this requires a fanatic devotion to accuracy. God help you if you try to quote Monty Python to a geek and get the words wrong.

Since so much is riding on the geek’s knowledge, it’s of paramount importance that this knowledge be as thorough as possible. After all, if it really doesn’t matter what stardate “Journey to Babel” takes place on, then what is the value of knowing it? It HAS to matter, and therefore it HAS to be known, and therefore it is unthinkable that this knowledge not be used if it can be.

In the quest for absolute, correct knowledge, nothing is above criticism for being “wrong”. A joke that relies on, say, Daleks being unable to climb stairs, must be torpedoed by a geek saying, “Um, actually, it has been established that Daleks can levitate up stairs.” Never mind that it ruins the joke and that the teller of the joke, knowing what a Dalek is, probably is fully aware of this, accuracy demands that the geek point out the utter absurdity of any humor that relies on such fallacious information regarding fictional robots*.

On the Internet, you can identify a geek in the throes of an accuracy attack by his signature cry of, “Um, actually…”. The “Um” is usually added (and yes, written in) in a feeble attempt to not make it appear that the geek is being condescending when 99% of the time that is exactly what he’s doing. Another phrase you’re likely to hear is, “you forgot”, the point of which is the unstated, “but I didn’t!”


It also makes no difference if the point that demands correction has nothing really to do with the topic at hand. You can write a three hundred page history of the kettle drum in orchestral music and if at any point in it you’ve made an off-hand remark about Babylon 5 that isn’t 100% correct, the geek will fixate on that one point like a laser. In fact, he’s likely to dismiss the rest of the text completely, since if you can’t be trusted with important Babylon 5 details, why should he trust you on your knowledge of musical instruments?

What it all comes down to is this: if you’re a geek and you have an opportunity to show off a portion of this vast collection of utterly worthless trivia you’ve accumulated, you have an obligation to do so. Not only will it humble any other geeks who may have thought for a second that they had a decent knowledge of the Shannara series, it will impress everyone else who witnesses this humbling. Also, the honor of the series demands it!

Geeks LOVE accuracy because dammit, if you’re not going to memorize the hit dice of every creature in the Monster Manual, why even play?

* Um, actually they aren’t robots.


28 Responses

  1. This site is hilarious! Keep it up.

  2. Two PLUS two EQUALS fi- hey, wait!

  3. One of the forum moderators on Television Without Pity (I think the Star Trek: Enterprise one) actually banned the use of “Um…” on her boards, taking the position that it’s always rude or condescending. I’m glad she did, as it broke me of the habit for good once I realized she was right.

    If you’re going to be one of “The Correctors” (Thursdays at 9 on NBC!), it’s at least better to be direct about it.

  4. See, I’ve never encountered “You forgot…”, which actually strikes me as startlingly polite and decorous for a geek interaction.

  5. […] Making the joke more “accurate” (Type A). This geek will fix the joke by correcting some trivial detail that the writer […]

  6. Again, more than a bit late: I had to look this entry up when I ran across a copy of the old book “Hope For the Flowers”. It’s a fantasy/allegory picture book, about a caterpillar who, after trying to climb to the top a huge tower of other caterpillars, realizes that the true way to “elevate” himself is not by stepping on others, but by transformation.

    Children love this book until a certain age; then they become very irritated over the author’s occasional use of “worm” as a synonym for “caterpillar”. They don’t worry about the fact that caterpillars don’t talk in language, that they do not harbor ambitions of self-elevation, that black-and-white butterflies do not mate with yellow butterflies — all of which happen in this book; but they’ll become almost frantic with frustration over the misuse of “worm”.

    Geeks, I think, never grow past this stage.

  7. But you forgot that the 4E does not use the hit dice any more.

  8. Two plus two equals five is a phrase is originally a communist slogan. Mathematically it makes no sense, so the grammar doesn’t even matter. If you use Daleks in a joke, then you have to be targeting geeks because they are obscure sci-fi characters. Therefore you would HAVE to know that they fly….

  9. Actually, two plus two equals five is perfectly valid in mathematics, you only need to determine in which base you are working.

  10. @Meldor Um, actually doesn’t matter if 2 plus 2 equals five or not, the question is what is more correct “IS” or “ARE”.

  11. “Actually, two plus two equals five is perfectly valid in mathematics, you only need to determine in which base you are working.”

    Don’t be silly. With both “2” and “5” being single digit numbers, there’s no possible base in which “2+2” can equal to 5. (In base 4, it’d be 2+2=10 however)

    “the question is what is more correct “IS” or “ARE””

    Actually the question is about the whole of the sentence. And both sentences are 100% wrong, mathematically.

  12. There’s also my personal favorite, “I’m sorry, but…” This immediately signifies that not only is the person commenting not actually sorry, but they totally think they’re better than you and want to make sure you know it.

  13. It’s “is”, not “are”.

  14. Another favorite weasel intro for the geek correction: “To be fair”. I see this one a lot from that particular strain of geek who loves Devil’s Advocacy.

  15. 2+2 does equal five, for sufficiently strange values of 2.

  16. Two + two is an expression. A single expression. It’s singular, so “is five” would be MORE correct. It would still be completely wrong mathematically, but would be grammatically less incorrect that “are five”.

    “Two plus two equals five is a phrase is originally a communist slogan.”
    No. It comes from 1984, a book written by a man called George Orwell. It wasn’t a slogan, it was part of a brainwashing process done by the (not communist) government.

    And yes, I’m aware that I’ve read this more than a year late and the people I’m replying to will almost certainly never read it. Meh.

  17. And I reply even later to say that you did the right thing.

    And to add that “are” is correct following “two and two”, but incorrect following “two plus two”. I’d accept “equals” or “makes” in the place of “is”.

  18. So what happens when the person using these hated expressions is correct?

  19. That depends on whether or not they are adding to the discussion by being proper, or if they are contributing nothing save for barely-relevant pedantry .

  20. It’s two years after this post went live… and the terrifying self-explication continues. Dorian, Ken, please return to this blog somehow – in book-form if you can. They just get worse.

  21. I am known here as g1 but I did not sign up with your site until jan 3 or 4th. I signed on wikipedia in the fall as 1gsparks. I have been hacked threatened and I am in fear of my life. I donkt know Babylon 5? I am living a nightmare. I need your help. Please!

  22. […] of a stretch, and that somehow incorporating the term “octothorpe” would not only be more accurate than “cross,” a Doctor Octopus reference could probably be squeezed in there too since […]

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