Sunday, January 3, 2010

Comic 683: Science: It's Boring, Bitches

Science Montage if montage means the same thing as UTTER SHITTT

Oh SCIENCE. The Most Boring of Things. People seem to think it's crazy and awesome, and movies always make it look super fun, but really it is actually boring as shit.

But why on earth do people think it is interesting? it's not like anyone ever tries to make Science look awesome, like, make it look like it involves flying sharks, so that little girls want to do it. It's not like anyone sells shirts with that exact idea. Or a shirt that says "Science: It Works, Bitches" or "Stand Back: I'm going to try SCIENCE" or anything else that would make something think science is exciting! It's not like those shirts advertise by showing pictures of people with exciting looking liquids doing exciting science! Not to mention gettin' all the hottt chicks!

So it's not like anyone out there is actually promoting the idea that science is somehow fun. seriously, where the hell do people get ideas like that? Here we are at xkcd, which only tries to make science look boring all the time, and lead to boring results or stuff like that. It certainly doesn't talk about physicists gettin' hott threesome action. Or hott lesbian action. SO WHERE THE FUCK ARE PEOPLE GETTING THE IDEA THAT SCIENCE IS FUN? Why do people think science is something cool, when it is just boring? these things are a mystery to me.

Luckily, there are some sources out there that try to say, no, science is not as fun as in movies. These brave souls push BACK against those who would make you think science is all fun, all the time. For example, this PHD Comic is like that. And this FoxTrot. And this video compilation - on digg's front page a few weeks ago! Heck, even this obscure webcomic called xkcd did that one time (alas, only panel 1 is relevant here).


So thank god that a few brave souls noticed that Hey, movies are sometimes silly with how they portray things!

And let's hope xkcd continues to be a good soldier in the fight against making things look cooler than they actually are.

-------------------

Wait, didn't we just get a "movies are hilariously unrealistic" comic?

101 comments:

  1. not bad, carl. not bad indeed.

    684! Glorious, glorious 684. I don't even care, it's stupid. Even if it were a GOOMH moment (I really don't know anyone who goes around being proud of having a girlfriend, but I recognize that it's something that exists, maybe), I really wish he had done more with it than

    Panels 1-4: Here is a person being really loud and obnoxious about a girlfriend.
    Panel 5: Doesn't he suck?
    Panel 5, alt-text: Let's retaliate cleverly.

    It's like a Weird Comix revenge fantasy, except delivered really tamely. All the revenge is hypothetical and distant--he's going to stab him, Randall's telling us that he heard of someone else retaliating. The "isn't this person annoying?" phase is dragged out, as is the "i hate those fuckers!" phase. It results in a comic whose delivery is pretty weak-hearted.

    Someone who knows more about romance than I and cares about Randall's comics about romance can say more about whether or not this is part of Randall's never-ending campaign of hatred against romantic love.

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  2. Rule of Cool, Randy, Rule of Cool. Many people realize TV science is wrong, but don't care. This is nothing new.

    Repeat it to yourself, Randy: this is nothing new.

    tvtropes has had this topic covered in depth for a while, now.

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  7. What did you say, Landon? I must know!

    captcha: Brithren!

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  8. *cuts boyfriend's hand off*

    "Any more grandstanding like that and you won't even be dating Lefty Lucy!"

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  9. science montage = meh. VERY old joke, not presented in a new/interesting way. random, out of place references to grey goo and "look around you" to make fanboys squeal. Comic gets an F+. The + is because randy attempted to have a background in the first panel but then gave up.

    the girlfriend comic made me imagine seinfeld going "whats the deal with guys with girlfriends?!?" awful.

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  10. I fucking hate how the alt-text references Look Around You. Randall, you aren't NEARLY good enough to reference it.

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  11. "Science does cool things, but often involves waiting around for incremental results" is an entirely consistent viewpoint, of course.

    But wait! Isn't the point of a montage exactly that it skips past the boring repetition and implies more activity than happens on screen? The joke here seems to be that science is boring even in montage form. Shouldn't we be able to zoom out even further to the point where the results are exciting? The lab equipment would still be less theatrical though.

    It is, as you note, a well-worn topic that movie science is unrealistic. For this comic to work, the montage angle is where the interest has to be.

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  12. We're back to bitter Randy, I see.

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  13. Yeah, in general, I think PhD comics does a much better job in describing how mundane doing science can be.

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  14. the concept of 684 was basically covered in a recent big bang theory, where howard goes around saying "hi everyone this is my girlfriend bernadette!"

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  15. Come on Carl, you couldn't even give him credit for the art effort this time?

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  16. I ended up reading the first four panels of 684 as a rant against the people who constantly go on about how awesome Avatar is. (Person on the right just made an Avatar-related comment, person on the left is now responding to it.) Reading it like that (and ignoring both the final panel and alt-text) results in a decent comic.

    But then, I'm really, really tired at the moment.

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  17. The question is, why would Randrex reference Avatar that way so that the comic only makes sense in the timeframe that the movie came out? Wouldn't he want xkcd to be timeless?

    There have been a lot of temporal comics lately. I wonder why

    *COUGH*BECAUSE THE PAPERS THAT PRINT XKCD WANT A COMIC THAT REFERENCES CURRENT AFFAIRS AND THAT'S WHERE THE MONEY COMES FROM*COUGH*

    I wonder if they also ask for a shallow comic with the sole requirement that it references something that people can remember looking at on Wikipedia and feel smug about if they're total dicks.

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  18. What? Papers print xkcd?
    what papers print xkcd?

    I always thought the vastly varying physical size of the comics, the occasional need for color, the occasional Adult Situation (, the occasional giant vagina), would make it a bad fit for nearly every newspaper, besides maybe some small college ones.

    ELABORATE.

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  19. I wanted to comment on 684 with some elaborate post, but then I came up with this.

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  20. It's not saying science is boring. It's saying it can't ever hope to be as exciting as it is in movies. I really think you're just looking for ways to bring RM down, rather than actually looking at what the comics are about.

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  21. You know, it pisses me off all the way to Hell and back when people get pissy about films being "unrealistic" (exception: the "Mayans predicted the end of the world" thing in the 2012 trailer). Why not focus on whether they're being entertaining or not? Besides, the thing is that it's VERY incoherent for Randall to make fun of film science, because he is always trying to advocate that science is fun (hey, isn't that EXACTLY what Carl said?). Also, science CAN be interesting and fun; gee, has anyone else watched Beakman's World? The result we have here is a messy, pointless, awkwardly delivered TV Tropes article in the shape of a comic.

    ... hey, I wonder if Randall has become recently addicted to TV Tropes. He did an entire strip about that some months ago, didn't he? And after that, it seems like one out of three comics are about something that has been vastly explored in TV Tropes. Theories, guys! Theories!

    684 is... Ok, so I'm probably spoiled, but I CAN'T STAND reading Randall talk about relationships in any way. It sounds wrong and icky; it's kind of like being offered a "lollipop" by some greasy stranger. And this comic, I'm not sure what it's all about. It seems like the guy is BOASTING about his relationship, and not only I have never done that or seen anyone do that, as Fred has pointed out, I've seen Randall himself do pretty much that through these years. But either way, both the joke and the delivery are horribly weak and lame.

    Really, do people actually do that? The only thing I've went through in my first week was utter disbelief, because I seriously thought it was never going to happen. So yeah, I think I gotta hang out more with the quirky, seXXXy friends of Mr. Munroe, who are all into quirky, seXXXy relationships.

    ... right, I think I'd rather accept that lollipop.

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  22. When xkcd art is shitty they tell us that art doesn't matter, it's stylistic choice and xkcd's art is supposed to be shitty.

    When Randall actually draws something they complain that we ignore the fact that the art is good.

    That said, I don't think the art in 683 was good. A 5 year old kid can draw like that. And the heads are still disconnected from the body.

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  23. I like the new one. At the incredibly high risk of sounding like a rabid XKCD fan, that sort of thing happened to me way too many times.
    I think I can guess the points Carl is going to use.
    A. Mentioning Avatar is a way to pander to nerds, instead of just being a sort of place one goes to with girlfriends.
    B. Not funny, Randall, because nothing Randall does is funny any more, and he's horrible. Unless it's Black Hat, for whom Carl has much love. And there was that one comic a while back that he did like even though it was new.
    C. It's another one of those relationship comics UGH
    Nothing much more to say, but Carl will also find other things bad with this comic. And Aloria or someone will say how factually inaccurate it is with something. Probably ladders or megaphones, but it could be both. Something about how standing high above someone with a megaphone pointed not in their direction is bad, but I sorta failed everything to do with sound in physics, so I'm not sure.

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  24. Oh you're just no fun anymore.

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  25. Carl - I still hold that you misinterpreted 673. Just because he started it off with "coming to you from the makers of the core" doesn't mean it was making fun of the core - it was a long build up to a stupid, yet silly, pun.

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  26. For the record, I think science is wonderful. Then again, I'm a nerd.

    Side note: This blog has actually made me change my standpoint about most xkcd comics, save a few, after thinking about them more.

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  27. Yeah, I drew the naked body of...
    ...MY GIRLFRIEND!

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  28. For the record, I think science is wonderful. Then again, I'm a nerd.

    Side note: This blog has actually made me change my standpoint about most xkcd comics, save a few, after thinking about them more.


    That's great! And if we had known who you were or what your standpoints were, that message would actually mean something too!

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  29. Carl - I still hold that you misinterpreted 673. Just because he started it off with "coming to you from the makers of the core" doesn't mean it was making fun of the core - it was a long build up to a stupid, yet silly, pun.

    So what was the point of even including that The Core line? Was it just random filler?

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  30. People do ish like in 684 all the time, but it's more like "going to see New Moon with the fiance," "me and the girlfriend went skiing this weekend," "the husband and I blah blah blah." YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER HAS A NAME HOLY SHIT USE IT.

    Still doesn't make it noteworthy enough to build a comic around.

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  31. Fred, that edit was pretty awesome, I don't see nearly enough praise on here for it

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  32. Slightly relevant:
    Lego Robot Comics #56

    Mostly for the title

    Fred's edit is excellent

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  33. Pita;

    I wouldn't say that the new comic is particularly bad, it's just at odds with everything Randall has done before (The edit before points it out well).

    There are long stretches where Randall goes for a massive Relation-binge, and talks about sex and girlfriends and having sex with girlfriends-

    And to me, that's exactly what unsettles me about the new comic, it seems hypocritical.

    But in Isolation, it's just ... Meh.

    Also, I don't know whether you mean it or not, but you come off as a huge arrogant arse in your post.

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  34. I have a hard time seeing how anyone can see this new comic as anything but bad.

    He took an incredibly ancient joke, mentioned avatar and offered nothing new.

    He might as well have told a joke about airline peanuts.

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  35. Mr. Lostman, I was asking questions trying to understand what Carl was saying.

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  36. The new one would be good without the punchline waste.

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  37. @Matthew: spot on, that's exactly why i didn't like it either.

    @Fred: excellent.


    the I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND comic is really poor. bland idea for a joke, shoddy execution, uninteresting uninspired unnecessary.
    making this a significant 'one of the three this week' update that has (at least) two days work behind it is just embarrasing. rewritten in a better editted form, it's a Seinfeld b-side joke.


    speaking of which...comparing randy to a stand-up comic (cos let's face it, the art side isn't something that should occupy him for more than five minutes every 2/3 days so i don't think we should compare him to another comic writer)...how prolific is he?
    how long would it take a professional comedian to develop, say, a half-hour set? 6 months? a year? longer shorter?
    and how many jokes/funny ideas are in a typical half-hour set?
    and how would X jokes every 6 (or whatever) months compare to randy's 3 jokes every week?

    i'm betting he'll come across as pretty darn lazy.

    and sure, some comedians with high standards might have lots of outtakes of material, so to speak, but we know that isn't true of randy.
    how do we know that?
    because of today's comic.

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  38. When reading 684 I expected the whole time that it was either going to bash or praise Avatar so I just didn't understand it. I can't judge it. Why the fuck did he mention a movie?

    - Anon 10:43

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  39. fred I am strongly considering having your edit be the entirety of my next post.

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  40. Is the latest comic (on Avatar) completely self-referential?

    I mean, haven't we responded to about three quarters of xkcd comics with "Yes, Randall, we know you may have had sex once. We Get It!"

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  41. Oh wait. Like, everybody above me has already basically said this. Sorry...

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  42. Carl: feel free to.

    Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this edit a gift on my daughter's wedding day.

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  43. Three problems with this rant:

    1) Carl gets repeatedly annoyed at XKCD for running the same sorts of jokes every time, and for being all science-is-better-than-any-other-discipline, but then gets EVEN MORE annoyed when Munroe changes stance because he's become "inconsistent"? How does that work?

    2) It's a comic, in the simplest meaning of the word. It's not a political, religious, or ethical commentary (usually). It doesn't have to have a consistent opinion on everything.

    3) The dig against the permafrost comic was silly. The whole point of that strip was that it obviously wasn't as cool as the buildup made it out to be.

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  44. "Also, I don't know whether you mean it or not, but you come off as a huge arrogant arse in your post."
    That's because I am one. I have my nice times, but I felt annoyed at some other thing and decided that Carl should be the object of my irritatedness, mostly because I knew he cared the least about whatever it was I was saying.
    I was also struck by the fact that many of the "Good XKCDs" he mentioned are just as good as some of the new ones, and that he's definitely affected by looking for the bad stuff. Which is something he's admitted.
    Short version: Yes, I'm an ass, but I choose targets that don't care. And I don't like Carl much anyway.

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  45. You are an idiot, JekalMan. Everything you say is wrong, and you have no idea what you're talking about. Your comments are very insightful, and you make some good points in them.

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  46. fucking fuck. It just...fucking.....FUCK

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  47. JekalMan is such a hilariously strawman debater.

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  48. It's a montage. They're suppose to be ridiculous. Montages in real life don't exist. The right side of this comic should be blank

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  49. I guess I'm the odd one out in that I don't have any real hatred for 684. I actually slightly like it, but it's far from being a great comic.

    1. Why mention Avatar? He could have just said "I saw a movie last week." There's no point in mentioning Avatar except to get people to say "I WATCHED AVATAR THIS WEEK TOO RANDAL GOOMH."

    2. The "legally allowed to stab you" line isn't funny at all. It would have been much better if the guy had said "I can't wait until you get past this phase of your relationship" or something along those lines. I realize that isn't really funny either, but at least it's not trying to be funny and failing like the stabbing line, and the final lines from off-screen guy could stay exactly the same.

    3. The alt-text is fairly amusing...actually, now that I think about it, the alt-text would be a better punchline than what the comic itself had. Why didn't he just make that the comic? ARGH.

    4. Also yeah the new comic strikes me as a bit hypocritical coming from the guy who's done his fair share of relationship comics. Looks like Randall can dish it out but he can't take it.

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  50. Rob needs to do another rant about the "if Randall does this you don't like XKCD but if Randall does the opposite of this then you don't like XKCD either" idiots that imply "this" would be the only thing we don't like about XKCD. (They also imply that if we dislike one extreme we have to like the other one, which is not true.)

    - Anon 15:34

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  51. Perhaps I should! That one is tricky though.

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  52. Are you gentlemen and ladies aware that Randall has had sex with a female?

    Just checking.

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  53. Thanks to the art, the "Movie science montage" looks just as boring as the "Actual science montage".

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  54. Leo just said what I had expected someone to hit on. The art styl can't even pull off this mediocre concept.

    The hypocricy of the newest comic is staggering.

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  55. Yeah carl, this newest comic is all about relationships, and being single. Hell, you've probably got Pantera cranked right now, slamming down Red Bulls and brainstorming a great new rant before rob does.

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  56. I thought Randall was going to lampshade the fact that's he's done the whole GIRLFRIEND thing to death, but of course Randall is not self-aware enough.

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  57. Leo, are you implying that Carl knows how to buy music and "rock the fuck out?"

    http://www.xkcd.com/546/

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  58. 'The "legally allowed to stab you" line isn't funny at all. It would have been much better if the guy had said "I can't wait until you get past this phase of your relationship" or something along those lines.'

    "I can't wait til you break up"?

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  59. wtf, disappearing goggles in panel six (seven?)

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  60. I hardly think the joke in 673 is that movies are unrealistic. I think the humor is kind of like that one frost chasers one. You know, just, "wouldn't that be lame?" ha ha. The purpose is just a bad pun, like in a forth of today's Sunday Pearls Before Swine strips.

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  61. Anonymous 2010, They are in his hands.

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  62. Jekalman is my little toadstool squeegie post. How I adorn thee with paper platies.

    Rob is my half-breed cousin from Idaho.

    Marbles anyone?

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  63. I hardly think the joke in 673 is that movies are unrealistic. I think the humor is kind of like that one frost chasers one. You know, just, "wouldn't that be lame?" ha ha. The purpose is just a bad pun, like in a forth of today's Sunday Pearls Before Swine strips

    So, the entire comic is just "science is lame"? Really? Really?

    Good thing Carl's entire post specifically addressed the comic as sending the "science is lame" message and not the "movies glamorize" message.

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  64. Thomas, I'm implying the man has a "routine" for when something like the newest comic comes across his RSS feed. Maybe a "In case of bad XKCD break glass" box with Red Bull, Pantera tapes, and a bottle of Wild Turkey.

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  65. Yeah but this is "CSI is totally unrealistic", totally different, clearly!

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  66. "But wait! Isn't the point of a montage exactly that it skips past the boring repetition and implies more activity than happens on screen? The joke here seems to be that science is boring even in montage form. Shouldn't we be able to zoom out even further to the point where the results are exciting?"

    Not really. In TV shows, they definitely show/imply that a lot of tests get done in a short period of time. So even if you zoomed out, your montage would cover a week or two instead of a rough all-nighter.

    Which is not to say that this comic is good... I seem to remember learning that real science != tv science sometime before I was toilet trained... I guess its good that Randall realizes it now.

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  67. Shame on me for not praising Fred's awesome edit. It's an awesome edit.

    Inuit?

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  68. Hey whatever happened to Amanda?

    init();

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  69. @Mal: he was referring to the "Daylight Saving Time" comic, not this one.

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  70. @Mal

    You even quoted me saying that I was talking about 673 and yet you still thought I was talking about this comic. Jeepers.

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  71. I redid 684

    http://fav.me/d2gwpu8

    it's 1 panel, and this took me about an hour and a half to do. So yeah. Am I saying I'm better than Mr. Monroe when it comes to expressing an idea? Maybe there's a better way to do it.

    To his credit, I left in the step-ladder and cone-thingy.

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  72. you faggot if you think it's so boring than make your own comic.

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  73. It's worse than the actual comic. Sorry.

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  74. you faggot if you think Carl's blog is so wrong than make your own blog.

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  75. Worse? Wow R, that's pretty low. I mean...damn....

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  76. I actually think the comic isn't trying to make science look boring. It's just saying it's not all action packed as it's portrayed. It doesn't feel to me like it's making fun of science, but the popular portrayal of science.

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  77. Duh! So you don't think that looks boring at ALL?!

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  78. Sure it looks boring but the purpose is to contrast it to popular portrayal not to those who say they are interested in science.

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  79. @Landon, Ann -- Wow, yeah, my bad. I wasn't paying attention to the number, and thought you meant "The joke in [the latest comic] isn't that movies are unrealistic..." etc. Sorrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyy.

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  80. After looking at some of the examples mentioned by Carl, I gathered that he didnt (dare I say it) 'get' the message from (at least some of) the examples of science in xkcd. To put it concisely, the whole 'joke' of his science-related comics (and his T-Shirts) is that science is boring and uneventful yet, to provide a humorous juxtaposition it is shown as sexy, dangerous and/or 'cool'.

    For example;
    465- where the joke is that science is boring but the physicist is doing cool stuff. This is stated somewhat bluntly in the alt-text for goodness sake!
    402- panels 1 to 3 lead up to the punchline that instead of an exciting and dangerous pursuit, it is in fact scientists studying a boring subject.

    If I had to critique this comic, I would state that is is dumbing down the joke from an early 2000s sit-com level of subtlety to an amateur stand up comedian's.

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  81. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 14, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    This comic does not imply science is boring. It's just not like the movies. Scientists find excitement in discovery. Movies find excitement in sparkles, beams, explosions and plot devices and noisy gadgets. =p

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  82. If this comic is not about how science is not as exciting as it is in the movies (or, put another way, about how science is boring compared to movies), then it is even worse: it is a smug "screenwriters are too stupid to understand real science/the thrill of discovery/etc" comment. At least calling science boring is just inconsistent and unoriginal. Saying that screenwriters are fuck-off stupid is elitist and smug.

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  83. wait, if this comic is supposed to be "Scientists find[ing] excitement in discovery," why is the last panel supremely unexciting, and deliberately so?

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  84. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 15, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    No, Rob, it's neither about science being boring nor about me being elitist. It's about how scientists and the audience have such different notions of "excitement".

    I mean, you could have Carl Sagan talking with great excitement about sending the Vikings probes to Mars. But then it would take some months before it reached the planet... Doesn't sound like big screen materia. Also, I'm pretty sure most of the audience wouln't find the slingshot effect as amusing as a manned ship crashing into Phobos.

    Screenwriters are not stupid. They're just not interested in showing real science on the screen. That's not what people usually pay for when they go to the movies.

    As to the last panel, well, this is exactly what many people don't understand: science is not easy and it does not operate miracles. In real science you can't always get the results you would like to get or draw valid conclusions all the time. Scientists spend most of the time studying, waiting experiment results or writing papers. And oftentimes they just realized they have wasted a big deal of time and have to backtrack and try a different approach.

    This doesn't change the fact that discovering can be very exciting. For a passionate scientist of the real-world, knowing you have contributed to the human understanding of the nature can be extremely exciting. It's just not "Hollywood-fashion" excitement.

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  85. So it is a completely useless observation? "Movies: they are different from science!"

    NOBODY THOUGHT THEY WERE THE SAME. There is no insight here, in your interpretation of the comic. At all.

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  86. also, what I said! this comic is making science look boring. Exaggerated, yes, but that's the point he's making. Think about it: If it takes several hours to get results, why are the scientists just standing there the whole time? Why are they not working on something else, or eating delicious tacos, or having wild scientist sex? That is what would happen in real life. But that isn't as boring. The right side of this comic is trying to be as boring as possible. that's the point.

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  87. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 20, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    If the scientists weren't depicted waiting for the experiment results, we would just assume they didn't have to wait at all. And you would be saying here the comic sucks because Randall would be implying that science in real-life is almost just like science in the movies, except that results in movies are farfetch'd.

    Yes, it IS exaggerated. But the message is "science is boring WHEN your notion of excitement has as baseline the movie-science-kind-excitement", not just "science is boring". When you understand that science takes more patience and persistence than dangerous experiments, then you can start seeking where passion lies in science.

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  88. Except none of that appears in the comic at all. Indeed, you are describing an entirely different comic. It would be trivial to make a comic where you contrast 'exciting, flashy movie science' to a comic where a scientist discovers something fascinating--a moment of "Hmm, that's funny."

    But it's not. This is just straight-up boring. There is no discovery in this comic at all. "Two elements are probably not in this sample" is not a discovery. It's an absence of discovery. It is boring.

    Which is the point of the comic: movie science is flashy and dumb; real science is boring as fuck. You may disagree with the point, but that's all you're going to find in this comic. The point is that science is boring and movies which make it look like it is exciting and fun and has sparkly bits and extensive lab equipment are lying to you. It consists of standing around for hours waiting for an uninteresting result that isn't even conclusive.

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  89. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 20, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Whatever you say, Rod. I realize now it's freaking pointless trying to show you any different point of view on any xkcd comic. Your blog is called "xkcd sucks", for crying it out loud! And that's what you frigging have in mind before reading any xkcd comic. Undoubtly you'll have to struggle a whole lot to find any amusement in xkcd -- except, of course, the "amusemet" of criticizing.

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  90. I'd link you to all of the times I've liked XKCD in recent days but they usually show up in comment threads, and you're not worth the effort.

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  91. woah woah woah wait! "Your" blog? this is MY blog! Rob has nothing to do with it! You can yell at me or you can yell at rob but don't go to him and give him credit for all this!

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  92. sorry carl. I try to notice when people think that I wrote the blog.

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  93. carl I engage the commenters for you since SOMEONE is too busy being carl wheeler to do it himself

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  94. Some random anonymous dudeJanuary 28, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    Sorry, Carl. When I said "your blog", I actually meant Carl's and yours. I just figured you and Rod were together, you know... Won't happen again.

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  95. Rod Huggins and I are just friends.

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