%% Image and caption selected per Image Pickin' thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1299267153073226200
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[[quoteright:300:[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Madred_Picard_5306.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[-[[ArmorPiercingQuestion "I asked how many lights you see."]]\\
[[MemeticMutation "There are four lights."]]\\
[[BlatantLies "I don't understand how you can be so mistaken."]]-] ]]

->''"Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as "the truth" exists... The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but ''the past''. If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'It never happened' -- well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five -- well, two and two are five."''
--> -- '''Creator/GeorgeOrwell''', "Looking Back on the Spanish War," [[OlderThanTheyThink two plus two years before]] ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''

A MindRape technique [[TropeCodifier popularised]] by ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour'': The villain has the hero in his clutches, but the hero Simply... Won't... ''Crack''. Sometimes the villain has to do more, i.e., to make the hero's mind break. This means using ColdBloodedTorture (both physical and psychological) to make the hero [[TheTreacheryOfImages see things that aren't there]] or being forced to acknowledge [[BlatantLies things that are patently untrue]], [[DoubleThink self-contradictory]], and/or [[LogicBomb irrational]].

The villain needs to make the hero believe that 2 + 2 = 5. It is said that the Truth will set you Free, and when truth loses all meaning, it becomes just another method of Orwellian [[MoreThanMindControl Mind Control]].

[[{{Doublethink}} Perception is Truth. Black is White. Wrong is Right. Right is Left. Up is Down.]] [[Music/WeirdAlYankovic Everything you know is wrong.]]

Often occurs in a society where BigBrotherIsWatching. A good way of procuring a ManchurianAgent or otherwise {{Brainwashed}} drone; if you can break someone down so much that they end up believing this, then you can put them back together however you want.

See also AppealToForce. Can also be accomplished with {{Gaslighting}} or TheLudovicoTechnique.

'''Note:''' [[JustForFun/IThoughtItMeant This trope has nothing to do with actual math or equations]].



* Lampshaded/spoofed in ''ComicBook/TheInvisibles'' when Sir Miles is using the drug ''Key 17'' to mess with King Mob's mind. He causes King Mob to see, among other things, five fingers where there are four. The illustration is subtly creepy.
** At the end, when King Mob escapes, he returns the favor: "How many fingers am I holding up, Sir Miles? [[FlippingTheBird Just two.]]"
* ''ComicBook/LandOfTheBlind'': "Nothing is better than a big juicy steak."
* The Green Goblin attempted this in an issue of ''ComicBook/SpiderMan''. Having captured Spidey and held him hostage for several days, to the point where he was dying of thirst, Goblin presented two glasses of water. One was underneath a beam of light while the other was kept in shadow. Everytime Spidey reached for the lit up glass, he was electrocuted, but was told the glass in the darkness would be perfectly safe. In other words, Gobby was trying to goad him into literally choosing the dark side.

* Lampshaded by Nice Guy Eddie, in Film/ReservoirDogs:
-->" "If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he'll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it fucking so!"

* The Attorney General wanted to find which was his best law enforcement agency, so he held a contest. The FBI, the CIA, and the NYPD all took part, meeting the AG at the edge of a large forest.\\
The AG said, "There is a rabbit out in the woods. Each agency will take turns, and whoever finds it in the least amount of time is the best.\\
The FBI went first. They returned two hours later without a rabbit and made a report: "We surveilled the rabbit, bugged his house, and built an airtight case against him."\\
The AG said, "Bull. You guys never found the rabbit."\\
The CIA went into the woods. An hour later, they came out without the rabbit and made a report: "We kidnapped the rabbit, turned him by offering him money and female rabbits, and now he works for us, spying on other rabbits."\\
The AG said, "Bull, you guys never found the rabbit."\\
The NYPD detectives went into the woods. Fifteen minutes later a bear walked out, [[PoliceBrutality bruised, black-eyed, and swollen]], holding his hands in the air, and yelled, "All right, I'm a rabbit, I'm a rabbit!"
** In Russia, this joke was formerly told with the KGB as the butt of the joke.
** In the Brazilian version, the Scotland Yard finds the rabbit in two hours by using deduction, the CIA finds the rabbit in one hour by using surveillance and the Rio de Janeiro Police returns in 30 minutes with a beaten up drug addict claiming to be a rabbit.
** There are also versions that [[http://images-cdn.9gag.com/photo/aWZyORn_700b_v2.jpg combine]] the US and Russian versions.

* George Orwell used this for ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''. Winston Smith writes that freedom is the ability to say "two plus two is four," then later tries to make himself believe in Doublethink by changing it to five. During his torture, the torturer forces him to see [[HowManyFingers five fingers]] when there are only four. After Winston is released, he at one point subconsciously writes "2 + 2 = 5" on a coffee table's dust layer. Interestingly, several editions of the book list [[HopeSpot "2 + 2 = "]] instead. Alas, it's actually a typo: [[DownerEnding Winston really did write "2 + 2 = 5"]]
* Dostoevsky offers us this joyful piece of wisdom:
-->"Once it's proved to you that, essentially speaking, one little drop of your own fat should be dearer to you than a hundred thousand of your fellow men, and that in this result all so-called virtues and obligations and other ravings and prejudices will finally be resolved, go ahead and accept it, there's nothing to be done, because two times two is-mathematics. Try objecting to that."
** Dostoevsky is actually inverting this trope: the torture comes from the reality that 2*2 = 4 and that there is no realistic hope to escape from it. Only when you can say 2*2 = something other than 4, can there be hope and freedom. Perhaps a version of IRejectYourReality when the reality is gloomy and tortuous.
* In one of ''Literature/TheStainlessSteelRat'' books, "the grey men" mess with Jim's mind using hypnosis [[spoiler:to make him think they've chopped off his hands and reattached them]].
* In the children's book ''[[Literature/JimButton Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver]]'' (''Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer'') by Creator/MichaelEnde, the dragon Mrs. Grindtooth (Frau Mahlzahn) tries to use this technique on her pupil/slave Li Si. Li Si, being both very intelligent and very brave, refuses to fold.
* Part of what happened to Tycho Celchu between the comics and the books of the ''ComicBook/XWingSeries''. He was bent pretty terribly by Isard but didn't actually break. When she overlaid Rebel and Imperial insignia and tried to transfer his loyalty to one over to the other, the contradiction sent him into a catatonic state. She later tried it on [[spoiler:Corran Horn]] with even less success.
** The Sith have a tendency to use this and BeingTorturedMakesYouEvil on Jedi captives. Unfortunately, it's often successful because the Sith are not only exploiting loopholes in the Jedi's dogma of emotional repression, but they also exploit the Order's ''chronic'' bad habit of [[HalfTruth telling their rank-and-file "a certain point of view"]] when it comes to critical information.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'': In the fifth book, Ramsay Bolton tortures [[spoiler: Theon Greyjoy]] and conditions him to accept a completely different identity.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Alias}}'': Some of the bad guys attempt this with Sydney but as she can't be brainwashed she merely pretends to be broken.
* The image source comes from the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "The Chain of Command, Part II." Picard is captured during a black op and taken to [[TortureTechnician Gul Madred]] (masterfully played by David Warner), who thinks that Picard knows Federation defense plans. Madred tries to force Picard to tell him that there are five lights on the wall when there are really only four. Every time Picard insists that there are four, Madred zaps him with an AgonyBeam. When Picard is finally released, he defiantly proclaims "[[PunctuatedForEmphasis THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS!]]" to Madred as he is leaving, but it's not as [[DefiantToTheEnd triumphant]] as it seems -- later, Picard admits to Troi that not only would he have readily ''said'' there were five lights just to make the pain stop if he hadn't been released at that exact moment, he was so much at his wits' end that he for a moment actually ''saw'' five lights.
* In the ''Series/BabylonFive'' episode "Intersections in Real Time," John Sheridan's torture and interrogation of is based around manipulating perspective and convincing Sheridan to accept the fact that the truth is fluid, and therefore he's a mutineer, a conspirator, a terrorist, and a victim of alien influence. They needed him to sincerely believe his confession in order to fool telepathic scans. However, he manages to rather effectively turn the logic around against his interrogator by saying that, essentially, just as their truth is valid to them, so is his to himself.
--> '''John Sheridan:''' You know, it's funny, I was thinking about what you said, that the preeminent truth of our age is that you cannot fight the system. But if, as you say, the truth is fluid, that the truth is subjective, then maybe you can fight the system. As long as just one person refuses to be broken, refuses to bow down.
--> '''Interrogator:''' But can you win?
--> '''John Sheridan:''' Every time I say '''"no."'''
* In the first episode of ''Series/TheThickOfIt'', Malcolm tries to "persuade" journalists that minister Hugh Abbott ''did'' make an important announcement at an earlier press conference (though he did no such thing) - it's just that journalists missed it.
* Parodied in a TV show by Swedish comedian Hans Alfredsson, in which he plays the leader of a small semi-Nazi organization, whose main targets are "svartskallar" — literally "blackheads", a common ethnic slur in Sweden. The Movement is supposed to be vegetarian and celibate, but when a rich and influential member tells the Leader that he owns a sausage factory and is not about to give up his wife, the Leader tells everyone that from now on, sausages and women are vegetables. At the end of the story, the Leader meets his mother for the first time... and she turns out to be black. When someone asks what this means for party policy the Leader declares that from now on, red is black and black is red... and the members turn on the single red-headed member with evil glee.
* In the MiniSeries ''Series/{{Roots|1977}}'', Kunta Kinte is whipped until he says that his name is Toby, the slave name given to him by his master.
* Though it involves no torture, in the ''Series/RedDwarf'' episode "Camille", Lister tries to break Kryten's CannotTellALie programming by showing him an apple and getting him to say it's an orange. He doesn't want to make him ''believe'' it -- just to get him to say something he knows to be untrue.
* On ''Series/TheXFiles'', this is pretty much the objective of the military guards torturing Mulder in "The Truth." After breaking into a government facility and finding "the truth", as well as several other things the government was hiding, Mulder is captured and denied food, water, clothes and sleep. Whenever the guards come in, they ask him what he's thinking, and beat him for answering truthfully. What is the correct answer? They want Mulder to admit that he illegally entered the facility to obtain non-existent information and killed a man, even though none of those things are true. Why? They're holding a KangarooCourt and are hoping to get rid of him once and for all. It appears to work, as Mulder repeats the words back. Turns out he's just saying it to get them to leave him alone.
* They did this to Baltar in ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'' to the point that his mind was so mixed up and he was talking so much gibberish that when he confessed to having done some terrible crimes, no one believed him.
* Michael Westen in ''Series/BurnNotice'' invokes this trope to state why he never uses torture. To get reliable information, Michael and his friends tend to rely on straight up disinformation, misinformation, deception and a [[GambitPileup repertoire of gambits]].
* In ''Series/GameOfThrones'', after Ramsay Bolton hears Theon Greyjoy [[MercyKill begging him to kill him]] after being [[ColdBloodedTorture tortured for a long time,]] Ramsay comes up with the idea that Theon is not Theon anymore, but "Reek." Ramsay slaps him until until he admits his name is now "Reek."

* Music/{{Radiohead}} has a song titled "2 + 2 = 5" that was inspired by ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''.
* Music/LivingColour's "Cult of Personality" also refers to the concept with the lyrics, "I'll tell you one and one makes three".

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* Private Plato in ''ComicStrip/BeetleBailey'' creates an instant demonstration by giving [[YesMan Lt. Sonny Fuzz]] a black piece of paper and expressing confusion over the alleged fact that the general said it was white.

* This is part of the treatment Petruchio gives Katharine in order to "tame" her in ''Theatre/TheTamingOfTheShrew'', when he insists that the food is bad and the clothes are ugly and refuses to allow her to eat or keep them. He also obstinately claims that it is 7 o'clock, when it is only 2. "...it shall be what o'clock I say it is." She later gives in to his game, agreeing with Petruchio that, in spite of it being broad daylight, that the moon is shining, and shortly after agrees with him that it is not the moon after all, but in fact the sun. This is potentially Shakespeare's ode to {{Gaslighting}}.
** According to some [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation interpretations]], though, this is a subversion; Katharine takes Petruchio's lies and stretches them even further, coming up with speeches so patently ridiculous it's hard to think she's not making fun of him. And this may be where they reach an understanding with each other - from this point forward, they start teaming up to terrorize other people instead of each other.
* In ''Equivocation'', [[ShakespeareInFiction Shag]] protests that a Gunpowder Plot conspirator's confession obtained by torture isn't the best evidence by pointing out the misspelling of his own name ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_and_Thomas_Wintour#Thomas.27s_confession Winter where it should be Wintour]]). Cecil threatens he can have similar done to Shag, giving justification to playwright Bill Cain's use of [[AwesomeMcCoolname William Shagspeare]] in place of the well-known Creator/WilliamShakespeare.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] by ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'': the FinalBoss wields a device that can cast illusions and control human minds, with the only exception being someone trained to withstand it (in this case, the player character). He goes for full-on solipsism and declares the Apple of Eden proof that [[LargeHam "Nothing is true... and everything is permitted!"]]
** [[ShoutOut Right from]] [[OlderThanTheyThink the book]] ''Literature/{{Alamut}}''
* Hilarious -- and simultaneously terrifying -- is the ShoutOut to this trope in ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}''. Midway through the struggle with BigBad [[spoiler:[=GlaDOs=], she]] angrily seethes, "You think you're doing some damage? Two plus two is... f-f-f-f- Ten. [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope ...In base FOUR!]] [[OhCrap I'm FINE!]]"]]
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'': Interestingly, if you shoot Ocelot with a tranquilizer round, he claims he has [[CrowningMomentOfFunny drug resssistannce trrraiiinnninnng]]. Repeated shots eventually make him insist "Two plus two equals five. TWO plus two equals FIVE..." without any outside assistance. As it turns out, he's intentionally ''torturing himself with reinforced contradictory beliefs'' because [[spoiler:Venom Snake is on the verge of accidentally breaking his hypnosis, and like in IV, he kind of needs to semi-forget that Venom Snake ISN'T Big Boss to pull this insurrection off]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/ChalkZone'' a horrible counselor sets out to make sure that Rudy understands what is "real" and what isn't. She straps him to a chair that shows him two pictures (generally a photo and a cartoon image) and asks him which is better. Every time he gets it wrong, it honks loudly at him. Later in the episode, we see him feebly trying to answer and getting honk after honk after honk until he says "whatever you say", which is the answer she was looking for.
* Inverted in the ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' episode where Deputy Director Bullock is sleeping with Hayley and Stan [[TeachHimAnger tries to make her ex-boyfriend Jeff more assertive]]. Stan states a blatant falsehood (that the orange he's holding is a banana), which Jeff agrees to because he's that much of a wimp. Stan then [[ElectricTorture electrifies Jeff]] until he ''stops'' agreeing with Stan and sticks up for himself ([[WontTakeYesForAnAnswer and once more time by accident]]).
* [[ParodiedTrope Spoofed]] in the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "Fishsticks" when Music/KanyeWest, [[ComicallyMissingThePoint denying that ]][[DontExplainTheJoke liking fish sticks makes him a gay fish]], tracks down Carlos Mencia, believed at the time to be [[spoiler:the originator of the "fish sticks" joke]], and tortures him. When Mencia is [[IRejectYourReality unable to crack]] and [[ItMakesSenseInContext break from the "reality" of the joke]], Kanye [[LudicrousGibs decapitates him with a baseball bat]].
* ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' does the EnhancedInterrogationTechniques version with the nerd, who's being [[ItMakesSenseInContext questioned as to the location of]] [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Mordor]]. He finally asks what they want him to say.[[note]] "Pakistan."[[/note]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* One reason for the BlatantLies in the pronouncements of repressive regimes (like UsefulNotes/NorthKorea's statement that their country is one of the happiest places on Earth) is that citizens wind up repeating them (to avoid being accused of disloyalty) even though they know the statements are untrue. This makes the citizens psychologically ''complicit'' in the regime's lies, and less likely to resist. That's the theory, anyway.
** And judging by the (seemingly legitimate) outpouring of grief after Kim Jong-Il's death, the new theory is that, like Winston, the populace also convinces ''itself'' of this reality.
** Although there is also evidence that they know perfectly well what the propaganda is after messages were intercepted banning the use of sarcasm to mock the government. Apparently there were a lot of citizens who would say "this is the fault of America" regarding ''everything'' in order to make fun of the same phrase used constantly in propaganda announcements.
* Joseph Goebbels: "The principle and which is quite true in itself and that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily." In short: "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed."
** And this is where the infamous phrase "A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth" [[BeamMeUpScotty comes from]].
* In UsefulNotes/NaziGermany's case the torture was economic collapse and UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler was the one to say 2+2=5.
** Hitler had this trope backfire against him in the later stages of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII when his subordinates started forging military reports and making false claims about e.g. troop strengths to avoid punishment from their delusional Führer. This is where the saying "Never trust any statistics that you didn't forge yourself" originated, which was then ([[http://www.joewein.net/blog/2009/06/16/trau-keiner-statistik/ possibly as a by-product of Nazi propaganda]]) falsely attributed to UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill.
** Consistent with the Creator/FyodorDostoevsky's version: the torture is 2+2 = 4 that you can't escape from and the escape is fantastical and "unscientific."
* The form of emotional abuse known as {{Gaslighting}}.
* Not torture, but a similar concept: a common trick in hypnosis shows is to convince the person under hypnosis that a number (say, 8) doesn't exist, leading to confusion when the person is then asked to count his or her fingers and invariably winds up at eleven, despite knowing that there should only be ten fingers.
* This is one of the arguments against "{{enhanced interrogation techniques}}": are they really giving up what they know, or are you just making them say what ''you think'' they know so you'll stop? Actual stats on the reliability of information gained from torture suggests that RealLife is not an episode of ''Series/TwentyFour''.
** It's also been shown that in practice, "brainwashing" of at least military prisoners doesn't seem to work; [=POWs=] who cooperate with their captors (by, say, making derogatory statements about their own country or government) for better conditions (or to avoid torture) don't generally change their actual beliefs. One rather famous example is the crew of USS ''Pueblo'' captured by North Koreans; they were told under threat of torture to issue a formal statement confessing their "crimes" and praising North Korea and its leader, which they did. However, the commander chose to use the word "paean" (which really does mean "praise"), so it came out sounding like "We pee on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. We pee on their great leader Kim Il Sung."
** When the long-delayed State Department report was released in 2014, it was revealed that several innocent people had been waterboarded by the US and/or its allies. Why had they been detained by coalition forces in the first place? Because friends of theirs had been waterboarded and in an effort to make it stop, blurted out the names of everyone they knew, conspirators or no.
* Amnesty International Belgium ran a series of anti-torture ads in 2014 that played with this trope using famous celebrities Photoshopped into beaten, broken people admitting something very contrary to their known beliefs-- like Music/IggyPop describing Music/JustinBieber as [[http://cdn4.pitchfork.com/news/55689/56991da6.jpg "the future of rock 'n' roll".]] (Other posters showed the Dalai Lama praising yuppie-style consumerism and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld extolling Hawaiian shirts and flip-flop sandals.)
* Antique trials were quite often this. For example, in witch trials, suspects would be tortured to make them "confess" to witchcraft. If they confessed, then BurnTheWitch If not...then keep on torturing them until they do.
** During the Salem witch trials, as dramatised in ''Theatre/TheCrucible'', Giles Corey was one of the few who [[TortureIsIneffective withstood the torture till the end]]. If he had confessed, he would've been excommunicated from the church and his property would've been lost; if he'd denied the accusation, he'd have been persecuted anyway and his property would've still been lost. To ensure that his family would inherit his property, he remained DefiantToTheEnd as his interrogators slowly crushed his body under heavy weights. His FamousLastWords when asked if he'd confess? [[FaceDeathWithDignity "More weight."]]

[[ComicallyMissingThePoint …So, Torture = 3?]]