Monday, July 12, 2010

Comic 765: Homeopathetic

zing!
[alt text: "Dear editors of Homeopathy Monthly: I have two small corrections for your July issue. One, it's spelled "echinacea", and two, homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos and your entire magazine is a sham."]

Well! Now that the shit storm from last week has mostly died down, and Randall has added a whole new apology where the tag line of his blog used to be. Even though most of us assumed that adding "zing!" to his insult was enough to make it ok, the new notice is there so that we don't take Randall comment the wrong way. When he said "Anthropology is not a real science, and it's really easy, and so you get plenty of free time, and if you are working hard at anthropology it's probably because you are very stupid," he just meant it as "a friendly jibe at a cool field." Well that settles that!

Although I also want to point out that he clearly calls the text that pops up when you hover over a comic to be its "alt-text." Can people please stop giving me a hard time about this now? Even Randall and I agree on this!

Now i've gotten all distracted and forgotten what this comic was about. Let me just have a l-
OH HOLY CRAP, IT WAS THE SEMEN INJECTION THING. WHYYYYYYY

I guess I should start by pointing out that despite what some people are saying, the "jab" at homeopathy in this comic is completely different from the "jab" at anthropology in the last comic, for a simple reason: Anthropology, unlike homeopathy, is not bullshit. Calling anthro not real science is just being a prick. Mocking homeopathy, on the other hand, is fine, because being a pseudoscience it is in fact the definition of something pretending to be a science that is completely not. So on that count, at least, Randall certainly gets a pass.

That said, making fun of pseudoscience is like shooting very stupid fish in a barrel (fish who are wearing amethyst bracelets to protect themselves from bullets). As far as I know, homeopathy isn't in the news right now, and is as stupid now as it was a decade ago (or inevitably will be a decade from now). As a target for mockery, it strikes me as too easy. For example. (understand that i am linking to that video not to complain about it, but to use it as an example of this being done before, being done easily, and being done better)

But of course, that's not what anyone will remember from this comic. They'll remember the part where the dude makes a diluted semen mixture in an attempt to impregnate the girl. Maybe you read webcomics to see stick figures play with their ejaculate; that would just be another way that you and I are different. So I found that the gross out factor of this comic - in the context, of course, of the dozens of other far-too-much-information xkcds - just a little distressing.

Then there's the caption. Now I don't really care whether homeopathy's point is that you dilute things a lot but the water into which you've diluted them ends up more potent than the original substance, or if homeopathy says that by ingesting an absurdly small, possibly nonexistent amount of a bad substance, you immunize yourself to anything else which could possibly give you the same symptoms as the toxin. (like I said, it is just stupid as hell). Clearly, one makes this comic make sense and one makes the comic make no sense. But the logic of this comic still is pretty dumb: How would belief in homeopathy be genetic? That is silly. No "beliefs" are genetic. They can be passed down from parent to child, but not genetically. I mean, I guess it's to be expected that a webcomic author wouldn't know an actual science like biology. zing!

This is another comic where an aspect of pregnancy particularly burdensome on the woman - in this case, actually being pregnant - is portrayed as being shared equally. The text is "we'll be sure to get pregnant now" as opposed to the more, say, accurate "I'll be sure to get pregnant now" or even "we'll be sure to get me pregnant now." There are other examples - when a woman who has just given birth says something like "sweet! we made a baby!" and maybe some more. I'd love to link you to them but HEY, the search function on the homepage just disappeared! DAMN. That's ok, i guess, it was pretty bad at doing its job. Maybe he'll bring it back soon with a better database of his comics?

OK guys, almost done with this one. Let's get to the alt-text, conveniently reproduced below the comic above. I actually really liked the alt-text. I liked that he found a homeopathy magazine, pointed out that it made an elementary mistake, used that to question its basic grasp of science, and then just came out and completely insulted the whole premise of the magazine. It was well done, I thought. Lucky he found a typo in the July issue of Homeopathy Monthly magazine, I thought! Then people pointed out that Homeopathy Monthly is a sham, not in the sense of "it spreads dangerous lies to people" but in the sense of "it doesn't exist and Randall made it up."

I think that is the definition of a Straw Man, no? (not counting the definition "a man made from straw.") He sets up a fake magazine to act as the proxy for the homeopathy industry, claims it made a dumb typo, uses this to show that the magazine is dumb, and uses that to show that the industry is dumb. But the whole mistake wasn't real! he made it up! So what is the point?

Guys, can you believe the stupid thing Politician X said about the gulf oil spill? He said that the birds covered in oil should be happy about it, because they can sell the oil for lots of money! That's so stupid. I should use the same logic and spill oil all over Politician X's car, house, family, and legislative district. I'll tell him it's a campaign donation!
This might be funny if a person had actually made that claim about birds in the gulf of mexico (well, maybe not funny, but i didn't try very hard). But since I made up the quote, who cares?


And lastly, the baster that the man is holding, the one which will be inserted into the woman, appears to be the same length as the distance from the woman's knee to her foot, and wider than her leg. Discuss.

276 comments:

  1. "Even Randall and I agree on this!"

    Holy shit! Carl is Randall!

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  2. ALT TEXT GRAMMAR IS EXPLODING MY BRAIN WTF AT WITH FOR.

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  3. Carl writing a post on the same day as the comic? What the fuck is going on here?

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  4. Look, it's not good for any reasonable value of good, but... I don't know. I feel like my standards are getting lower and lower, because this one honestly didn't piss me off at all. Maybe that's Randall's plan: "If I do a bunch of crappy comics, then they'll look on the occasional mediocre comic as ridiculously awesome! Mwahaha!"

    I look at it and think, "Well, it didn't overtly offend any groups of undeserving people, there are no detailed vagina pictures, it's not a chart, the logic is at least self-consistent... better than average, maybe?"

    Didn't make me laugh, but still.

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  5. The caption for this comic is also terribly punctuated and thus needlessly confusing. As far as I can tell, it would be a lot better and more clear if the commas were just removed. This is just in addition to the fact that it is totally stupid to say that a belief can be genetically inherited.

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  6. I guess the implication is that they aren't going to get her pregnant because diluted semen is way less effective?

    Thanks, Randall. Really.

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  7. I may have missed it, but did you touch on the fact that Randall not only makes fun of an easy target like homeopathy, but doesn't even get it right?

    Homeopathy is the idea that toxins can kill themselves if diluted, so diluted semen would actually be a spermicide.

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  8. A lot of people have been writing about that, but quite frankly, I think it doesn't really matter. All of homeopathy is stupid, and a lot of these pseudosciences aren't even self consistent, and it's not like any of it makes sense. I don't think randall has to be meticulous in his research on this one.

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  9. I really want a homeopath to show up in the comments section.

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  10. @8:20pm

    It's really remarkable how many people seem to miss that point when looking at this comic.
    It also rather damages the "this is what X really believe" nature of the attack, as well.

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  11. @Carl

    I dunno... I feel like it's the least you can do, especially when it's in the first couple lines of the wikipedia article.

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  12. ok, but then wouldn't we have just accused him of making a comic based on the first few lines of a wikipedia article?

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  13. and why not? he makes living off the damn thing, god forbid he come up with something factually accurate AND not from wikipedia

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  14. As for genetics...I'd be willing to wager that most conversations concerning 'selection' in the biological sense involve genetic material that predisposes one population/species for survival (and therefore offspring) but:

    a) This is not always the case: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/329/5988/212
    b) Even if it was, one has to be trying hard not to see the joke. The idea that something pre-disposes a group to successfully carrying on their genes. Might include not knowing that more sperm is (generally speaking) better.

    Anyway...now I can get back to being grossed out by this whole comic.

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  15. (Anon 8:20 here)

    I don't agree. Homeopathic medicine is based around the idea that dilution of the agents that cause symptoms treats the symptoms symptoms. It's "consistent" in that regard because that's literally the definition of the movement.

    I mean, yes, it's ridiculous pseudoscience, but if you're going to write in a high-handed manner about something I think it behooves one to actually understand it.

    I suppose that, being a real scientist, Randall doesn't have a lot of time for "research."

    Capcha: Barkn. Like a dog, or a tree?

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  16. Off topic but, Carl, your ads have turned against you: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/795661/carl%20nooooo.png

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  17. Maybe Randy didn't have time to read Wikipedia to understand what homeopathy actually is because he was too busy getting A REAL SCIENCE DEGREE BITCHES! FUCK ANTROPOLOGY

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  18. scott: nooooooooo

    i actually never see the ads because I am of course using firefox extensions to block them. Which is dumb because it means a tiny little bit less money for me.

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  19. Carl: I think it does matter, because the idea of using homeopathy as a contraceptive is much funnier than using homeopathy to get pregnant.

    In one, the consequence of (unavoidable - cos homeopathy don't work) failure is...HOLY SHIT A BABY OHHH NOOOO.

    In the other, the consequence of failure is...huh. Nothing happened. Oh well.


    Awful life-destroying consequences = better comedy material.

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  20. "And lastly, the baster that the man is holding, the one which will be inserted into the woman, appears to be the same length as the distance from the woman's knee to her foot, and wider than her leg. Discuss."

    DAMN IT, CARL, I DIDN'T NEED THAT BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP!

    SERIOUSLY, I'M SO DISTURBED MY CAPS LOCK GOT TURNED ON!

    MOLE!

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  21. All of you homeopathy bashers need to go get a life and do some homeopathy research because you don't know what you're talking about.

    There is literally tons of anecdotal evidence about homeopathy's effects and bias in the scientific community is hampering attempts to properly study its documented effects.

    Water has a fascinating ability to retain properties associated with other substances, and homeopathy simply takes advantage of the so-called "water memory" as a means of helping people being failed by mainstream physicians. Water memory is in fact a concept that has been embraced by many scientists and it is perfectly legitimate to take adantage of its benefits, without the grim cost associated with many pharmaceuticals.

    Contrary to what has been claimed here, this comic is in fact far less fair than the one about anthropologists. Anthropologists at least have the numbers to come out in force on these boards, which is exactly what happened in the days following 764's publishing. Homeopaths on the other hand lack the sheer numbers of anthropologists and cannot generate a proper resistance.

    Randy and Carl should both be ashamed of themselves. What if a sick person doesn't even TRY homeopathy because of this, and then dies?

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  22. maybe the comic actually has a point, unintentionally? like, back before plumbing and shit, when we had to kill bears to live, you couldn't believe in stupid garbage, or you'd die. but now that we have medicine and iphones, you can believe whatever the fuck, and still live to have kids, and then teach them your retarded-ass beliefs.

    weird that as science gets more and more badass, its basic effect is to ensure that more and more people can survive without actually knowing fuck all

    implying that this is the comic's intended message seems kinda farfetched though

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  23. Pro Mole: I'll bet your caps lock wasn't the only thing that got turned on. ZING.

    Anon: obvious troll is obvious, etc. I think you gave yourself away with "literally tons of anecdotal evidence." Because, as you know, no matter how many literal tons of anecdotal evidence you have, it doesn't add up to actual scientific evidence. I'd say if you changed that, got rid of the "water memory" stuff, spell "advantage" correctly, and don't refer to comment threads on a blog as "these boards," you maybe will be a more successful troll in the future. GOOD LUCK, MY FRIEND.

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  24. "I'd love to link you to them but HEY, the search function on the homepage just disappeared! DAMN."

    I usually take a line I remember from the comic, add xkcd, and plug into Google. I've almost always gotten the xkcd I wanted.

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  25. @9:53 then they are exactly as dead as they would have been anyhow

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  26. Carl, looking out for the trolls. That there is class.

    Also, GoogleAds is helping me find Homeopathic medicine now. Hmm. Did you know I could earn a degree in Homeopathy? Do you think Randall would like that?

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  27. it does raise an interesting ethical dilemma. are we removing people's ability to heal by means of the placebo effect by debunking pseudoscience like homeopathy? is our knowledge killing gullible people?

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  28. also, to add to anon 10:02:
    "What if a sick person doesn't even TRY homeopathy because of this, and then dies? "
    Their families will have more money to deal with funeral costs etc without having wasted it on pseudoscientific bullshit that only gave them false hope?

    oh wait i am feeding the trolls again. dang.

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  29. "like, back before plumbing and shit, when we had to kill bears to live, you couldn't believe in stupid garbage, or you'd die."

    Except there was a way higher instance of believing in stupid shit back then.

    Captcha: Dissesse. I tried homeopathic medicine, but it did nothing to help me with my dissesse

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  30. I made the point about him getting homeopathy wrong because I think if he had applied it correctly here, the comic would have been a lot stronger. It would be much stronger if they were putting together a a bogus spermicide, and the punchline was something like "Evolutionary selection isn't always a good thing." He doesn't even need to directly name homeopathy. He could have made fun of homeopathy without making it the punchline.

    The actual comic seems petty and weak because all it does is say "Hah! Homeopathy is false! What morons...and we smart people know that the morons don't get to reproduce, right? That's evolutionary selection!"

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  31. Homeopathics is like Shrodinger's Cat -- once someone tells you it doesn't work they have just killed the cat. Except instead of "killing", it's "failed to alleviate anxiety". And I think we all know who the cat is, Rob.

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  32. Anon at 9:53 is trying for satire.

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  33. How come only Mole brought up the thing we were supposed to discuss?

    I'll start then, because I don't give to hoots about Homeopathic medicine... except that for a second I thought that taking Zinc supplements or whatever the fuck actually fell in to the same category, can someone tell me if I'm right or wrong in thinking this?

    Whatever; so according to Carl, Randall has fucked up with his sense of depth and lines and fancy art words that I don't know. How is this any different from any other comic? He somehow always finds away to fuck up something simple but who cares, we all kind of know what it is he's talking about, so we can connect the dots right? Well that is truly lazy but he doesn't care either.

    This just made me realise something... why do they always use basters? I am not of the female gender, so I don't know what things going in certain places feels like, but I've looked at a baster, and that thing sure doesn't look like it would be "exciting" to have shoved up there, so how come there's no penis shaped/feeling basters in production for the sake of the women folk?

    Well, I'll leave everyone to stew over something that is more fucking disgusting than anything Carl could've come up with :)

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  34. "it does raise an interesting ethical dilemma. are we removing people's ability to heal by means of the placebo effect by debunking pseudoscience like homeopathy? is our knowledge killing gullible people?"

    Rob you manic, don't you see - the whole purpose of this blog is to remove people's ability to enjoy xkcd by debunking the idea that it is funny! Thus our knowledge is removing joy from the world JUST AS debunking homeopathy kills dumbasses. Stare long into an abyss and it stares into you etc etc

    p.s. this is why Carl's full name is "Carl 'Ugly' Wheeler, The Happiness Stealer"

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  35. @Rob: I don't think so, for two reasons. First, it is possible that people are resorting to Homeopathy as a replacement for modern medicine. This of course can be very damaging in the event that a disease is real and curable by doctors, but a doctor is not consulted because of a misguided belief in Homeopathy.

    Second, Homeopathy relies very heavily on faith. If the placebo effect is in fact happening, it's only because people believe the treatment is real and helpful. It occurs to me to question what kind of people will believe in homeopathy to begin with. Someone who would believe in homeopathy to begin with, is not as likely to change their mind when you try to explain to them why it's a sham. Either they are smart enough to know it's a sham, but believe it anyways because they want to have faith him something, or they are dumb enough to think that it's real and that you don't know what you're talking about. (I have met both)

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  36. I just want to mention again how terribly wrong his use of "evolution" is in this context. This use of bad science is as egregious as making a comic about heavier weights falling faster than lighter weights. Yes, that IS how bad the science is, and on a comic where he tries to make fun of charlatans for bad science no less!

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  37. Cam, you can buy ejaculating dildos, so... there is?

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  38. ok here is the secret:

    if i am using words and phrases, it is a joke

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  39. I don't really mind that Randall just made up the homeopathy magazine. It had such a generic title that it sounds good for something you'd just make up off the top of your head as an example. Like some friends are talking shit and the subject of homeopathy comes up, and someone says they'd totally write into like, Homeopathic Monthly or whatever, and say blah.

    What concerns me more is: is "evolutionarily" a word?!

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  40. you immunize yourself to anything else which could possibly give you the same symptoms as the toxin. (like I said, it is just stupid as hell)

    I'm no biology major (because that isn't a pure science, zing!) but isn't this the basis of vaccination that has been proven to work since at least Edward Jenner in seventeenwhenever?

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  41. it's a bit more complicated than that

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  42. Rob, your impotence and girth is of an unquantifiable value. Have you forgotten that to make things a joke you need to append "Zing!" to the end? Randall, the paragon of hilarity and the penultimate leader of the hive mind, has implied this in his comic with the numerical value of seven hundred and sixty-four.

    The ultimate leader, of course, is Randall's mom. Her address to her proletariat drones - us - reads: "Please view my son's comic every day to keep his self-esteem up. When he's upset he tends to make snarky jokes belittling people who appear less intelligent than himself - like homeopaths and anthropologists. He's so proud of graduating with a physics degree, but he seems incapable of being humble. Haha, still my precocious kid! Anyway, with love, Randall's mommy. XOXO"

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  43. Well, vaccination works by getting your body to produce antibodies against diseases.

    Homeopathy gets that muddled up into thinking that you could get your body to produce antibodies against *any* toxin. So if you wanted to protect yourself from lead poisoning, you'd take tiny, weeny doses of lead and you'd build up a resistance to lead poisoning.

    And not have brain damaged children, etc.

    But it won't do that either, because the other thing that homeopaths push is the 'memory' of water, and how this is intensified the more reductions you do. But that involves diluting the original substance a hundred times over for each 'reduction', which, curiously, is what annoyed me about Randy's cartoon - he couldn't even get the numbers correct when he was trying to slate homeopathy.

    That, and his straw-man magazine.

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  44. This was awful, just terrible. I honestly think this is the worst XKCD put up in a long time. It's confusingly laid out, its not funny in the slightest and when you actually think about what he's trying to say it just doesn't make a lick of sense. I suppose ole Randy isn't as much of a science God as he'd like his readers to think he is if he can't get a proper grasp on evolutionary psychology.

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  45. So if you wanted to protect yourself from lead poisoning, you'd take tiny, weeny doses of lead and you'd build up a resistance to lead poisoning.

    So how is this different from taking tiny, weeny doses of cowpox and building up a resistance to cowpox?

    Maybe it's wise to note that in my world the human body follows simple, machine-like rules that apply to everything.

    Much like in Randy's humans-as-computers world, I might add.

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  46. Fred, aren't you meant to say "Zing!" at the end? I was about to pen a vituperative screed at you (it's late here, and I seem to only be reading only the first two sentences of each comment)

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  47. Oh come on guys, ol' Randy Randall can't help it if he sometimes forgets that the average male sex organ is a lot smaller than his personal frame of reference.

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  48. The women you are know are apparently really weird about pregnancy and babies. My wife wouldn't say "we're pregnant" on grounds of technical inaccuracy, but "we made a baby" is certainly something she would, and it's not unheard of for couples to describe themselves as being pregnant. You can't spend so much time attacking Randy for having unrealistic dialogue and then turn around and attack some of the few examples of more realistic dialogue for technical inaccuracy or having implications that they do not, in actual fact, have.

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  49. xkcd suddenly makes a lot of sense with this comic. Randall must have misunderstood the application of homeopathy such that he thought diluting comedy would intensify humor, whereas the homeopathic reality is that doing so has only served to cancel out all symptoms of comedy.

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  50. Homeopathy tells that the more you dilute the medicine, the stronger it gets. So a very small drop of a, say, 1000 L container with a diluted aspirine could cure a hadache.
    So if they dilute the sperm, it gets "more effective", thus increasing the chance of pregnacy.
    That's the joke; it's stupid, and so is homeopathy and Randall.

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  51. Today's Buttersafe "11 Bad Comics". Does anyone else think the last one is a xkcd reference?

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  52. I want to punch Randy in the colon for that abuse of punctuation.

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  53. "And lastly, the baster that the man is holding, the one which will be inserted into the woman, appears to be the same length as the distance from the woman's knee to her foot, and wider than her leg. Discuss."

    This gross size disparity has never been a problem for me.

    Also, for Fred, the theory of homeopathy is this:

    A toxin has a certain "resonance" that causes disease. When placed in water and succussed, the water takes on the anti-resonance of the toxin. By diluting the water, this anti-resonance is increased (there's more water than toxin).

    Finally, once the product has been diluted to the point where there's (statistically) no toxin, the only thing remaining is anti-resonance material (water, sugar, or whatever).

    This material is then given to the patient. Because only a given resonance creates certain ill effects, (something that gives you a stomach ache resonates at the same as anything else that gives you a stomach ache) the anti-resonance counters the effects of the toxin that is in your body.

    Which is why the key ingredient in homeopathic sleeping pills is caffeine.

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  54. Randy is such a douche (for his stupid apology). And this comic sucks for all reasons stated.

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  55. About the "straw man" magazine.


    Ok. that specific magazine doesn't exist. But there are pseudo-scientific magazines that publish homeopathy articles as if it was sound science.

    So the alt-text joke is not really a straw man, because there are magazines like that one he described.

    One can say he's a coward for not having the guts to name a real pseudo-scientific magazine. Or lazy for not really looking up the name of a real one.

    If you are interested in cutting edge pure water solutions, try this link:
    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=homeopathy+magazine

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  56. xkcdexplained did it nicely today, looking at it from a different angle.

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  57. Cam, you take my name out of the this, you sick bastard! All I mean is, seriously, Randall sucks hell at understanding how stick figures work. That baster is infinitely wider than the person it will be inserted into(since a line technically has no width). That's what bothers me. Because, you see, this person is making money out of comics without understanding how they should work. Like that time when he drew a muppet with a face when his people barely have facial hair!

    ...wait, I had something funny to say, what was it?

    Oh yes: how do you know Rob is lying? His lips move!

    LOLOLOLOLO-LOLOL!

    Mole

    CAPTCHA: cosyn. It's the complementary of the syne.

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  58. So Randall "anthropologizes" now? No wonder he has so much time to write this comic! Zing!

    And wait, he made a friendly "jibe"? Last I checked, that either had to do with ships or meant "to agree with". Since he couldn't have meant either of those, I can only assume the word he wanted was "jab." Come on, Randall! Can't you even get your freaking apologies right?

    I've taken the liberty of archiving the apology in case he changes it:
    http://people.msoe.edu/~brayshaj/files/xkcd_apology_error.png

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  59. Gamer_2k4, you are thinking of "jib" and "jive", respectively. A "jibe" or "gibe" is an insulting or mocking remark, possibly with a connotation similar to "good natured ribbing". Jab would also be a close synonym.

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  60. Belief, in homeopathy, is not, evolutionarily, selected for, end of the sentence.

    XKCD, a webcomic about language.

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  61. Anyone else notice that Randall waited to apologize until he could come up with something "clever" to say in the process?

    "I 'anthropologize'... because I'm such an arrogant dick that even when I apologize I still want you to know that I think I'm smarter than you."

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  62. Belief in... homeopathy: is/not (evolutionarily) selected? For!

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  63. Anon 4:51 - that's not what homeopathy says, actually. It's the opposite - you don't dilute the treatment but the cause of the symptoms itself.

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  64. Belie "fin" home; o' pathy, is? Not! Evo -- lution... arilis: elect EDF. Or...

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  65. Now that Carl is including the alt-texts I will never have to visit the actual site again. Yay!

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  66. @Fred:
    Perhaps that's part of the reason Randall replaced the description text. He realized that he could no longer claim his comic was about language (or math, or sarcasm, or romance), so he threw in a placeholder under the guise of an apology until he could come up with something better.

    Something like, "A webcomic about memes, elitism, and Megan."

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  67. Um... that's not the text he replaced.

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  68. Randall missed 10:23 (an organized homeopathic "overdose" protest) by about four months.

    He's so late to the party, as always.

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  69. "Homeopathy Monthly" may not exist, but "Homeopathy Today" does, so Randall may have been trying to avoid the notably litigious nutters.

    The idea of homeopathy (as put out by it's inventor, Hahnemann) is that "like cures like". He decided that eating the bark of a particular tree gave him malaria-like symptoms. Therefore, he decided, diluting the bark would cure actual malaria. Hahnemann did this with no pretence to science, he just tried loads of things and wrote down the symptoms he gave himslef and matched them to real symptoms from actual illnesses.

    And people believe this shit.

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  70. Haveing the alt text printed below the comic is great. It means I don't have to bless that hive of scum and filith with a page veiw just to be fully disgussted/enraged/left dead inside/confuused by this pitiful excuse for amusment.

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  71. Dear Atheism Weekly. I have some minor corrections regarding last week's issue. Firstly, Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi, not Mombasa. Secondly, there is a God and he is going to send you to Hell, in which you'll burn in agony for all eternity.

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  72. Carl: Fantastic idea to include the alt-text. Now those of us who would dearly like to never visit www.xkcd.com after 764 (myself included) don't have to! Thanks.

    Now all that's left is to affix "Zing!" to the end of each post, and between that and Rob'z Rantz we need never waste more than a line of text on cuddlefish ever again!

    Also: fucktarded goomhba of the day, made even more infantile by the internet-speak they use at the end of their post ("factual errors r teh unforgivables!").

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  73. Omg I don't want to burn in hell :((((((( (seven chins because i am almost as fat as Rob)

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  74. @ everyone, focusing on 13th 9:53AM

    "It means I don't have to bless that hive of scum and filith with a page veiw just to be fully disgussted/enraged/left dead inside/confuused by this pitiful excuse for amusment."

    You're right! It's far more amusing or gratifying to criticize something ad nauseam. Everyone loves a critic, especially one who can't spell, believes in homeopathy, and/or believes in an afterlife! You're SO good at finding little problems/inconsistencies! I'll bet you're a riot with friends and family.

    and @July 13, 2010 10:40 AM

    "Now all that's left is to affix "Zing!" to the end of each post, and between that and Rob'z Rantz we need never waste more than a line of text on cuddlefish ever again!"

    You're so right. We're far too elite to waste time on those elitists! wait...hold on... shit I lost it...

    ReplyDelete
  75. Calm down, dear

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  76. Alright honey... but only if we can have a baby.

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  77. @Anon 9:45
    I found Homeopathy Today when I was looking for Homeopathy Monthly. There is no mention of an issue after December 2008 on the website. So, it's not the July 2010 issue of H.T. Randall is bitching about.

    @P.A.
    The straw man magazine matters not because homeopathy magazines actually exist, but because Randall ascribed a particular spelling error to a nonexistent issue of this nonexistent magazine.

    If homeopaths frequently spelled Echinacea wrong, the straw man would be fine. But I can't find any evidence that they do so (the genitive echinaceae is used in evidence based medicine papers, not homeopathy). Thus, the spelling error is also a straw man, and Randall gets probably the most basic rule of biological nomenclature wrong; he doesn't capitalize the genus himself.

    If Randall wanted to pick on homeopaths for using outdated biological names (like Elaps corallinus instead of Micrurus corallinus), that would be fine; homeopaths do use older names. Randall seems like exactly the kind of douchy pedant with a minimal understanding of taxonomy that would think that an outdated name is objectively "wrong".

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  78. I just realized:
    Not only does Randall get homeopathy's like cures like backwards, but I don't think he gets the difference between herbal medicine and homeopathy. This seems to be a pretty common misconception, so I don't entirely blame him, but if you're going to criticize homeopathy, figure out what it's not.

    Homeopathy and herbal medicine get conflated because both attract flaky new-age types that believe in all kinds of total bullshit and have an unreasonable aversion to normal medical practices. However, herbal medicine isn't total bullshit; herbal remedies aren't diluted to nothing, and they actually can work (although modern pharmaceuticals often work better).

    Why do I think Randall doesn't get the difference? Because he mentioned ECHINACEA specifically. Echinacea is HUGE in the herbal remedy market (#5 in sales according to this: http://www.emedmag.com/html/pre/fea/features/031502.asp). While Echinacea is also used in homeopathic preparations, it does not seem to be a major homeopathic remedy.

    Arnica is the biggest seller homeopathically according to some sites (and the other contenders seem to be propietary mixtures). Zinc** and the duck liver flu thing are also big sellers (and Sepia seems to be somewhat popular, thank god the homeopaths only needed one).

    Since Randall mentioned Echinacea, rather than Arnica or Zinc, I strongly suspect that he thinks herbal remedies are the same as homeopathy. Any hype Echinacea is getting isn't really for the homeopathic version, just the herbal remedy version.

    **@Cam
    Zinc is also marketed as both a nutritional (herbal?) supplement and in homeopathic form. There is evidence that zinc supplements (the kind that actually have zinc, not the homeopathic ones) help with colds. Just make sure you read the label and don't get the homeopathic version (which will mention a dilution factor like 30C or 12X).

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  79. The magazine was never meant to be real, and neither was the spelling mistake. To criticise Randall for riffing on a non-existent magazine is pointless, and to call it a "straw man" is absurd. You don't call a comedian's description of an airplane a straw man because he didn't really take a flight last week and eat the crappy food, even though he's describing it like he did.

    He picked Echinacea because it is homeopathy-related and more likely to be spelled incorrectly in a hypothetical Homeopathy Monthly magazine than most related terms.

    As much as it pains me to defend Randall I think we're getting a bit too autistic about this whole thing.

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  80. XKCD is an unfitting name. I think it should be galled "Randys Raging Rants" or, triple R for short.

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  81. but RRR is my irc name :o

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  82. @Anon 1:09 - why do you hate jews so much? WHAT"S YOU"RE FUCKING PROBLEM!?!

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  83. unbeknownst to the guy, the chick has been building up an immunity to semen for several years







    with the help of his roommate

    (zing)

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  84. Anon 109:
    except that airplanes and their shitty food exist.
    Homeopathy Monthly does not.

    ALSO HOW DARE YOU USE THE WORD 'AUTISTIC' AS A PEJORATIVE AS A SELF DIAGNOSED AUTISTIC PERSON* I FIND THAT HIGHLY OFFENSIVE**

    *autistic person = autist? Sounds more like a painter from Brooklyn.

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  85. OK, let's say the crazy man some comedian talks about meeting in the street. He doesn't exist and is merely a device used to tell a joke. He could be real, and the situation described is plausible, but both the joke-teller and the audience know that a certain amount of artistic licence is being taken for the greater good of humour.

    Regardless...really? I mean, fucking really? We're reading the alt-text as fact, completely unironically? We're Googling for Homeopathy Monthly's July issue to "gotcha" Randall Munroe?

    If the alt-text is a strawman because it's not entirely representative of reality, why isn't the comic itself?

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  86. Rob@10:06, Ravenzomg@10:23

    You don't need to worry about ruining the placebo effect. A couple of the forumites aver the placebo effect works even when the patient knows it's a placebo. One of them was "trying to invoke a placebo effect" in himself.

    http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62280&start=80#p2233111

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  87. Alright, Anon@2:22, you win (on the strawman issue which wasn't originally my main point; I'm not yielding on the capitalization Randall fucked up or his picking an important non-homeopathic remedy to exemplify homeopathy).

    I missed the joke (is that a symptom of autism?). Now I see Randall was setting up a joke like this one:

    Dear editor,
    I have two small corrections to yesterday's article,
    1: D-Day occured when we invaded the USSR on June 6th, 1945, not June 7th
    2: Also, your mom's a whore

    Point 1 is the setup and is unimportant; a mild rebuke in contrast to the scathing insult in point 2.

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  88. I just realized I was midreading Echinacea as Echidna, and the whole conversion got a lot more sensible.

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  89. If the alt-text joke was "HOMEOPATHS CAN'T SPELL GOOD LOL" then you could complain about the spelling error being a fake attribution to a non-existent publication.

    But it was "I HAVE TWO CORRECTIONS, ONE IS A NIGGLING MINOR POINT, THE OTHER IS A WHOLESALE REJECTION OF EVERYTHING YOUR PUBLICATION STANDS FOR."

    Added: Oh, and on preview, it looks like Sepia covered similar ground.

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  90. @ anon 109/222: Ah, I get you now. Fair enough.

    @ nobody in particular, though partially to ryan I suppose: yes, the alt-text is a thinly veiled "fuck you" to homeopathics in general. If by "thinly veiled" you mean "not disguised at all".

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  91. http://img30.imageshack.us/img30/7986/cadkcd.jpg

    Wish I could embed images...

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  92. Fred: you make a good point, so allow me to clarify: Taking tiny amounts of a virus or whatever is how vaccinations against that particular virus or whatever work. The issue with homeopathy is that it pretends you can get "vaccinated" against Terrible Thing X by taking a tiny amount of Other Thing Y that can sometimes cause the same effect. So for example (I'm making this up, but then again, so are they) you want to be immune to a virus that causes stomach problems, you would take a tiny amount of E Coli, for example.

    A separate issue is that you wouldn't actually be taking e coli, you would be taking water that once was in the same container as water that once had e coli in it, but again, different issue.


    PA: Yes! that is EXACTLY why it is a straw man joke. Instead of choosing an actual magazine, he made one up to represent them. I believe entirely that there are magazines that stupid and perhaps even worse. He should have chosen a real one. That would have made all the difference.

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  93. Most recent:

    Did he have to plug the Tesla Roadster? Ugh.

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  94. So, please, tell me what's wrong with the Roadster? It's a solid car in every respect. I can understand that it's totally unnecessary to mention the Roadster in particular except as an attempt to establish geekcred, but your disgust seems to be towards the car itself.

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  95. And now cue the dick sucking on the forum since Randall used some color.

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  96. Can I just say how awesome today's artwork is?

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  97. From first page: "I've seen the green flash once...it wasn't green...And it wasn't a flash"

    lolwut?

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  98. Oh my God, this section had me laughing for a long time:

    "Maybe you read webcomics to see stick figures play with their ejaculate; that would just be another way that you and I are different."

    I love you, Carl!

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  99. My disgust was due to it being pretty unnecessary product placement. No disrespect intended to the car.

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  100. Also, before somebody jumps on my arse about xkcd probably not making any money from mentioning the Roadster and therefore not fitting into the definition of product placement, I still think that it's pretentious as hell to say that something is good without saying why.

    Captcha is concesi. That might mean concise in some obscure Romance language, which I hope it was.

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  101. Jimbobbowilly:

    I disagree. I'm REALLY glad that he didn't spend time explaining why he likes the Tesla Roadster in his comic.

    Seems to me that "Tesla Roadster" here is standing in for what comics that weren't being geeky for the sake of geeky would call a ferrari or something like that. I think it does detract, but I can't get too annoyed by it.

    I didn't like the joke much, but I think the art was well done. I think the joke itself would work much better in A Softer World. Both the tone of the comic and the fact that the art is photographic would be much better suited, I think. Still, I'm impressed with the art. I'm not impressed like the sycophant who was linked above, but impressed all the same.

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  102. The art IS cool. Maybe not beautiful, and probably pretty easy to do if you know your way around computer-y art programs (I don't), but the idea comes through, and it's definitely cool by Randall's standards. I was blown away at first. But here's my problem: he could, and should, have saved it for a really funny idea, and really thrown a monkey wrench into Carl's nefarious plan to turn xkcd into a wasteland of HATE.

    Instead, he made a joke that I've seen a million times before: "You have a cool thing, I'm gonna distract you (/kill you) and take your cool thing!" And you know what, even though I just said I've seen it a million times before, I can't even think of a TV show or film example to back myself up. You know what I CAN think of? Me and my dorky friends in fifth grade. "Oh man, you got the new Zelda? Man, you're so lucky! I'm gonna come over to your house and shoot you just so I can play it!" And we'd all laugh, because damn it, taking people's stuff was FUNNY then, no matter how you delivered it! Now, it can still be funny, but not the way Randall wrote this comic.

    It just infuriates me that he paired one of his worst jokes with one of his best pictures, and decided that was fine. I guess he must not be self-conscious about his comics due to him not reading this blog, but damn it, I'd want to cram as much impressiveness as possible into one comic if it were me.

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  103. If xkcd started using walls of text to gush about cars, yeah, I'd be even more pissed off. But I kind of like Top Gear.

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  104. The search function may not appear from the front xkcd page but you can still search for xkcd comics on ohnorobot: http://www.ohnorobot.com/index.pl?e=0;n=0;m=0;d=0;Search=Search;b=0;comic=56;t=0

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  105. On the most recent comic, it seems like he spent a bunch of time messing around to make a kinda decent sunset picture, then suddenly realized he didn't have a comic to post. So he went, "Oh no! Now what? Oh, I know, I can add some stick figures to this! And I can talk about that cool thing I wish I had at the same time! Awesome! ...Oh, maybe I should put in a joke too. Uh... uhhhh... aha! Hat guy threatening someone! Hahaha, hilarious! I am a GENIUS."

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  106. Jesus Christ, would you rather him make up a generic name for the car or something? The car equivalent of the Game Station 20,000? http://xkcd.com/484/

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  107. Jesus Christ, would you rather him put in a generic sports car name instead, like he did with the Game Station 20,000? http://xkcd.com/484/

    He isn't propagandizing the car like those people at The Joy of Tech propagandize Mac products.

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  108. I was thinking he could just call it a car.

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  109. Blah de blah. After all the drama from the last two comics, I just can't feel anything about this latest boring strip and its boring "OOH WOW A COLORED SUNSET UR SO AWESOME RANDALL" blah. Which is sad for a Black Hat Guy strip.

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  110. Guys- GUYS.

    On Xkcd Explained- black hat guy either has three legs or a massive dangling schlong- but on xKCD black hat man has only two legs.

    Did randall inadvetendly upload the comic with black-hat man's massive cock and then change it or is Xkcdexplained just fucking with me?

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  111. xkcdexplained seems to be adding cock to every few xkcd's. I wonder why.

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  112. This is being pretty nit picky... but that last sentance in the comic... why does it end in a question mark? Read it out loud and see if that sounds realistically phrased like a question? See, I just did it there. The sentence is too long and has too many "and"s for it to end in a question and still make sense. Not that bad, unrealistic dialogue is anything new to XKCD, just putting it out there.

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  113. xkcdexplained does indeed add a cock every now and then. i guess they're trying to be funnier?

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  114. I love that ridiculous forum post on how brilliant the artwork is. "At an angle, the colors take on a light of their own"? What the fuck does that even mean?

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  115. @Fred it means the art critic at XKCD doesn't know science.

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  116. Randall, once more, is selling himself way short. (Actually, he's selling his fanbase shorter, but whatever.)

    If he could do a color drawing--lackluster as it is--between Monday and now, it means he could still keep to his three-day-a-week schedule and and do color. This "color comic once every few months" business only highlights his laziness.

    Bravo, Mr. Munroe. Truly, you are a god among hacks.

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  117. If I weren't cynical, I'd think Randall came up with this idea from the Jules Verne book, or from the Éric Rohmer film; unfortunately I am aware he most certainly got this idea from random browsing on Wikipedia.

    Besides, the green ray only appears on certain atmospheric conditions. GEE, WHERE HAS YOUR GEEKINESS GONE, RANDALL?

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  118. OMG, I was going to kill a guy and steal his car just last week. Get out of my head Randall!

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  119. I think I read about this somewhere else recently - maybe Cracked? Like last week recently. So it's possible he didn't look at a homeopathy magazine at all.

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  120. Dude everyone knows the green flash appears once every 10 years when the Flying Dutchman comes back to bone Keira Knightley.

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  121. Counterpoint: the art is not good. The art is something that, in actuality, takes 5 to 10 minutes to do.
    Why do I say that?
    Well look at it. Look at it closer. Now tell me: do you see anything but straight line squggles there? Is there something more to it than having one colour be more conjested around the sun? That's really all it is - a sketch but with paint.

    In art terms, this is known as "making use of your tools to create patterns" Or in a more frank way, "trying to bullshit non-artists into thinking you're actually good at art".


    Also, that's not anything like a sunset whatsoever, beyond having a yellow circle in the middle. Would someone mind telling me why on earth the reflective ocean is pitch-black, and darker than the beach?
    (for reference, here's an actual sunset: http://www.stanford.edu/~jbaugh/saw/studentphoto/Scenery/CampsBaySunset.JPG
    The actual redness of the sky depends on how close to the equator you are, so here's another pic of a red sky: https://academics.skidmore.edu/weblogs/students/awells/sunset.jpg
    Notice how it is completely unlike Randall's red sky beyond sorta being the same colour if you ignore the fact that Randall decided 25% of the lit sky must be pitch black for no reason.)



    And this is just a comment. If Carl praises the art in /any/ way I'm gonna write an entire review, because I am REALLY flipped off by the amount of people that think this is good art!

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  122. Art doesn't have to be realistic.

    That said, the whole "he draws stick figures but he's also a really good artist" thing annoys me to no end. Yes, he occasionally manages to do some interesting stuff with minimal colors and shading, and yes, he once traced a nice picture of a boat, and yes, he drew something that is easily recognizable as a human face. That doesn't make a person a 'good artist'.

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  123. I know people are going to argue that it's his style (and therefore immune to criticism), and I'll admit that the stick figures are arguably emblematic of XKCD, but it's really starting to piss me off, especially when he does somewhat detailed comics like this, that he refuses to even give anyone a fucking face.

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  124. Who am I to say anything: I'm just a humanities scholar with a degree in an aesthetic discipline. Between partying it up and sitting around making up nonsense, however, I managed to get an unreal doubleplus ungood degree.

    So, I feel that I can unequivocally say that this art is crap. I don't even need a degree for that. I used to make similarly garish doodles in elementary school. I got gold stars every now and then for "expressing" myself.

    As for Randall's "style," crap artists don't get to claim that they have a style. Styles have something unique about them. Amateurishness is not unique. Styles also tend to have a theoretical foundation; the artist attempts to "say" something with them, or, at the very least, many people are able to recognize them as "saying" something meaningful or particular. This art only says: "I don't know art" -- not very interesting.

    I've never in my life seen a sunset where the horizon is on fire but the rest of the world is plunged into total darkness. Also strangely, the sunset, unable to illuminate the Earth, is on the other hand so incredibly bright that its unbearable luminescence has washed out the stick figures' facial features, leaving nothing but a bright, blinding white light. This is not a sunset: it is an atomic explosion. The black spots all over the sky, however, seem to suggest that the very fabric of space-time is unraveling before our eyes; so, perhaps a black hole is opening up where our sun once was.

    XKCD is about language, or so it claims, but Randall seems to miss out entirely on the splendors of the figurative. Perhaps this is an example of "sarcasm"? It has to be. Randall must hate his audience. Each new comic repeats: "You fucking assholes. You're going to like this, even though it's shit."

    That's really the only way that I can pretend to read XKCD without feeling embarrassed for its creator.

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  125. @Fred,
    Saying "art doesn't need to be realistic" only applies when it's INTENTIONALLY not meant to be realistic. Unless you're telling me that he fucked up the colouring on purpose, I'm calling it terrible art.

    And if he did do it inteiontally... that's even worse, because he did it for no apparent purpose or reason whatsoever, making it even worse art!

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  126. Plasma, exactly! I look at that and all I see is that he took a black background and blotched hues of red, yellow and white to make the sky, and some sandy color for... the sand.

    That's not good art, it's blotchy and ugly, and a mockery of effort. "Telltale Beat" and "Campfire" looked much better, and I think that might have to do with them not having color...

    This being said, why doesn't Randall work at least with simple coloring, like he did in that "Reverse Polish Notation" comic, in a regular basis? It looked nice. I won't say it saved the comic as a whole, but it's a start. Maybe he'd see he can, you know, improve, instead of staying on the same shitty local maximum being praised by his primordial sludge of a fanbase.

    Also, anyone else noticed I'm getting more rageful lately? Or it's just my thoughts?

    Mole

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  127. @Fred: most artists are expected to master realism and other "traditional" styles before they can dick around with something original. Yet, even if Randall occasionally practices neo-classical painting in his atelier while taking breaks from revolutionizing math and physics, there's nothing original about this art, which a casual walk down the halls of an elementary school will tell you.

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  128. Charles Augustus FortescueJuly 14, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    It's not meant to be realistic - it's a stylised depiction and I think it looks gorgeous. It makes me want to hire a cherry picker so that when the sunset's finished, I can raise myself up to watch it all over again.

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  129. Dammit nobody would say "Tesla Roadster" in that context. They'd just say "car." Or "auto." But of course, then we wouldn't know WHICH car and he couldn't earn geek cred so...blah.

    @ the forum person Anon 9:38 quoted:

    ahahahahaha just HOW HIGH do you even have to BE just to WRITE something like that...

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  130. Homeopathy uses the same science as vaccines. Zing! The new comic is a lame attempt at art, and is in no way good.

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  131. I misread "Tesla Roadster" as "Testarossa" at first. Frankly, my error makes the comic funnier to me. Tesla Roadsters might be the ideal for smug pseudonerds, but everybody wants a Ferrari.

    Also, in terms of taking the easy route to humour, at least Randall didn't throw a Double Rainbow reference in there.

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  132. Anyone who thinks this is art is a tool. Proof: here's soemthing I came up with in MS Paint a while back and it took me less than 5 minutes. http://i146.photobucket.com/albums/r250/nazlfrag/earth.gif

    That is art. The comic you saw was pandering bullshit. The last comic insulted anthropologists, this one simply insults taste and intelligence. xkcd is now officaly nothing more than a hollow shell of what it once dreamed of being. Randall needs a holiday, and probably a good fuck too.

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  133. So is this comic just a "friendly jab" at a subfield of medicine he respects? Wait never mind, I don't want combine the words "friendly jab" with the disturbing image above.

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  134. I'm not sure how the latest comic is supposed to be funny.
    Hat guy is nerdy and awkward so he tells some other guy he'll beat him up and then take his Tesla Roadster. Also, bonus! it's related to this green flash phenomenon.
    Is there a joke I'm missing in there?

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  135. Wait, what if the female was being sarcastic and they were diluting semen to protect her from getting pregnant?

    Or am I just being super slow atm.

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  136. I really took this as a jab at evolutionary psychology, although I don't think it was intended as such.

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  137. "As far as I know, homeopathy isn't in the news right now"

    In germany, we are currently debating about whether our health insurance should stop paying for this shit. Unfortunately they have good arguments: "Homeopathy is the cheapest placebo you can get".

    (sorry, my english sucks)

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  138. I read xkcd sucks because it makes me feel superior that I'm not wasting my time as much as carl. seriously, what kind of bitter idiot are you?

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  139. I can't believe all these people shitting on art in the last comic. What more do you want from art in a fucking xkcd? It's as good as it gets. Just shut up. And Nazlfrag, I sure hope you're being sarcastic about your "art".

    That said, xkcd is still terribly unfunny and you guys should rather focus on this.

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  140. Goddammit! Awesome art in 766, but the joke is just meeningless. This is picto-blog territory, he should have just have dropped the dialogue altogether.

    Captcha: "difies" - 766 is giving me the diffies.

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  141. People are shitting on the art because everyone is acting like randall is doing some great artistic piece of beauty because his comic is so shitty on average.

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  142. re: anon 11:49
    Rob's rants #4

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  143. The art is mediocre if we're judging it on the same standards as pure visual art.
    Mediocre is, for most people, still a little enjoyable to look at.
    This is a comic that updates 3 times a week.
    This particular one has better art than most updates of most webcomics, just by virtue of being at all enjoyable to look at on its own.

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  144. Saying it's better than most art of most webcomics is like saying that you're smarter than most people in an orphanage. Technically true, but absolutely meaningless given the incredibly low standards.

    At most like 10% of webcomics aren't painful to look at, meaning yes, xkcd is better than them. Compare that to, say, Sam and Fuzzy, which manages a page and a half of amazing art while keeping to the same schedule Munroe does. Or Romantically Apocalyptic, which once was updating on the same schedule and looks like this: rom.ac

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  145. @Whumpus:

    Or Gunnerkrigg Court. Or Dr. McNinja. Or Penny Arcade.

    As long as we're on the topic of webcomics, Randall's is somewhat familiar: uninspired, poorly drawn black-and-white sketch comics punctuated rarely by a color comic that seems good only because of its context--a swamp of mediocrity. In terms of content, he has a tendency to get on his soapboxes and white-knight unnecessarily, as well as a penchant for bringing up creepy, sexual topics.

    Randall is Mookie!

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  146. I'm still pretty convinced DD is his joke on the world. ...But, I say that about most web comic artists, I think. Still beats where the punchline is "COCKCOCKCOCKCOCKCOCK!"

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  147. hey you guys, do you remember Black Hat Guy? Do you remember how he is a psychopath? Well GUESS WHAT he is still amoral and inclined to murder people/steal objects of value! Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Also I just read about the Tesla Roadster and I am going to name drop it for no good fucking reason!


    Shitty art that will guarantee the Armchair Art Critics come out in force because ZOMG color, a joke that has been told quite literally dozens of times in xkcd already (and far more creatively at that), and Blatant Fanservice? randy, you get an "F" for Fuck you.

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  148. I think the art isn't horrible, which is saying something!

    But so the joke... is it supposed to be the carjacking? Does Randall think that carjacking is funny somehow?

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  149. Anon 1519:

    It's not carjacking that's not funny, it's Randall.

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  150. Gryffilion +1. Carjacking is only funny when you're doing it to run over hookers and ... I'm sure Grand Theft Auto II had a point, right? I don't remember there ever being a "goal", but maybe I was playing it wrong...

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  151. So er... Does no one find it important to note http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62203&start=120#p2229272 happened right before 765. I mean... really?

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  152. I am pretty sure almost all of us have noted that.

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  153. Charles: don't worry, at least I got your reference.

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  154. Aw man. I read Charles's post as "It makes me want to hire a cherry picker so that when the sunset's finished, I can raise it up to watch it all over again.", which was delightfully stupid and not an xkcd reference.

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  155. I always liked that post. It was like one of those "math has practical applications" things in a trig textbook, but without any dumbing-down. Randall demonstrated that he could treat his readers like normal people with geeky tendencies, instead of treating them like antisocial geeks with even geekier tendencies.

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  156. why, i can't understand a word of that.

    OK OK, homeopathy has been in the news IN GERMANY. but xkcd is made by an american for americans (for example). Do you think he was actually trying to tie into this story? Maybe he was, I'll admit I had no idea about this when I wrote my post. maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. It seems unlikely that he was making a joke about current events in germany.

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  157. Carl get off your fat smelly ass and actually tell us why xkcd sucks.

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  158. Less homeopathy talk and more XKCD sucks talk.

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  159. Fred: This is about XKCD Sucking AND Homeopathy, is that okay?

    So maybe this is a shot in the dark... but did anyone else notice that exactly 1 comic after taking a shot at Anthropologists, calling them not a real science, etc... he then chooses next to aim at Homeopathy, which is much more widely accepted to be psuedo-scient? Seems almost like the backlash after the last one made him think "Uh oh, I gotta write something that will get everyone back on my side" so he took a stab at something he knew none of his fan base would be upset over his criticism. Even CARL didn't have a problem with him taking a shot at Homeopathy.

    Best thing to do to bring people together is find a common enemy, and Homeopathy is kind of that. Even those of us who were pissed off last week admit this time he's justified to mock Homeopathy. You think he planned that, or am I giving him wayyyyy too much credit?

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  160. it's totally plausible. more than most webcomics artists, Randy is pretty good at manipulating his audience--it's why he's so successful.

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  161. Carl:

    Are you sure you know what a strawman is? It's not just any form of weak or invalid argument. It's a very specific type where you create an argument that looks similar to that you're arguing against, but is fundamentally weaker and than argue against that point instead.

    Arguably, the comic itself could be labeled a strawman if it weren't for the fact that you can't really get much weaker than homeopathy anyway.

    However, the alt-text is only a strawman if you think that Randall is actually presenting the typo as homeopathy's argument and that the 'correction' was attacking this argument. Alternatively, you can say that the fictional magazine is homeopathy's argument and the alt text is attacking that. Either way, this is pretty clearly ridiculous. The magazine is used as a symbol of homeopathy, but not as a stand-in for their arguments in any way.

    The alt text may be logically (syllogistically, that is) unsound, but it's certainly nothing approaching a strawman. Besides, unlike the comic it's attached to, it's actually pretty funny.

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  162. Boy do I ever love it when internet arguments degenerate into nitpicking over logical fallacies

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  163. @2:43 It's a slippery slope.

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  164. I <3 armchair logicians. They're endlessly entertaining.

    Captcha: Spocout. too easy

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  165. @2:41

    Technically, you're correct: Randall hasn't mischaracterized homeopathy's argument, so it's not a strawman in the strict logical-fallacy sense. However, colloquially (and by "colloquially" I mean "lots of smart people say this" rather than "hillbillies talk this way") people use "strawman" to refer to any weak mischaracterization of your opponent. In my discipline, for example, when someone claims that their method is better than someone else's, and they poorly implement that other method, we call it a strawman, since you've mischaracterized the facts about your opponent.

    This is exactly what Randall did in fabricating a typographical error and then "calling" homeopaths on it. You can say it's technically not a dictionary-defined strawman, but to say that "it's certainly nothing approaching a strawman" is pretty pedantic.

    Also: T-rex as a cuddlefish?

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  166. Ernesto said "colloquially (and by "colloquially" I mean "lots of smart people say this" rather than "hillbillies talk this way")"

    Perhaps the problem is assuming they are smart to begin with (at least concerning logic).

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  167. The important thing is, using a mis-characterization as an argument is still a logical fallacy, and if you call it a straw man, everyone knows what you're talking about.

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  168. "We're pregnant" is something couples say all the time. Its irritating, yes, but you can't really say its unrealistic dialogue.

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  169. Perhaps the problem is assuming they are smart to begin with (at least concerning logic).

    No, that's not the problem. The people I'm thinking of have already given plenty of evidence that they're smart--even concerning logic.

    Perhaps the *real* problem is an unwillingness to accept the fact that language is fluid, even for smart people.

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  170. "No, that's not the problem."

    Maybe you're just not smart enough to tell?

    "The people I'm thinking of have already given plenty of evidence that they're smart--even concerning logic."

    Probably not, one can easily understand that language is fluid but also recognize that poor usage is still poor usage.

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  171. I love when prescriptivists start pretending that they understand that language is fluid, "but it's still wrong and anyone who uses it otherwise is therefore dumb."

    that hamfisted refusal to accept that any use besides the one you learned in your logic class is absolutely unacceptable, but still desperately scrabbling to convince people that you're not being a prescriptivist. "sometimes people are just wrong! I'm not telling them they are, it's just a fact!" it's one of those beautifully human moments that perfectly capture the condition of having absolutely no self-awareness.

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  172. "but it's still wrong and anyone who uses it otherwise is therefore dumb."

    I figure reading you is like when quiet religious folk see gun-toting christian militants on tv. Disturbed by the fact that what they found as useful is the basis for someone elses hate. Likewise it seems that to you anyone who differs even mildly from your polemic are up for the firing squad. Nice job at becoming an object lesson in prescriptivism (and possibly the butt of your own joke about self-awareness!)

    IMHO and in my moderate education in linguistics something can be poor usage but not wrong. Perhaps your prescriptivism surrounding descriptivism is the issue? ;-)

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  173. Maybe you're just not smart enough to tell?

    This is getting tedious. Look, it's okay to be a little bit wrong on the internet, okay? I admitted that your objection had logical merit, but argued that you were being kind of a dick about it. Why do you have to keep reinforcing my second point? Can't you simultaneously accept your victory and admit that other people can be right, too?

    Captcha: Perit. Prescriptivists get SO upset when I misspell the names of common birds.

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  174. Rob stop being such a descriptivist tool.

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  175. "Look, it's okay to be a little bit wrong on the internet, okay?"

    Apparently. Especially so when attempting to identify people.

    "Can't you simultaneously accept your victory and admit that other people can be right, too?"

    Poor pronoun aside. I agree but it's kind of poor sport that Rob can be amused by the total lack of self-awareness in people (or in this case the apparent total lack - I fully admit my ability to be blind from time-to-time) and I'm not allowed to amused by yours?

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  176. that's a new one! "I'm only prescriptivist if you're a prescriptivist about the word." unfortunately, "I know you are, but what am I?" stopped being effective after, oh, third grade?

    I also like your self-characterization of being a "quiet religious folk" to my "gun-toting christian militant," and not a "prescriptivist dick on the Internet" to my "person calling you a prescriptivist dick on the internet." it's certainly amusing! it does a lot to reinforce my initial thoughts w/r/t your complete lack of self-awareness.

    and your moderate education in linguistics apparently sucks, my little prescriptivist friend.

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  177. Perhaps Robs just got a case of "more descriptivist than thou".

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  178. Regarding Anon @12:25 ~

    Isn't this like the whole calling someone a bigot because they are intolerant towards bigots pseudo-argument?

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  179. "I'm only prescriptivist if you're a prescriptivist about the word."

    I'd say that's a pretty poor interpretation - if that's allowed without getting the "Scarlett D" applied again. More like you are being prescriptivist in (hopefully) a limited respect. Everyone makes mistakes - even descriptivists.

    Re: Bigot vs. bigot - I see what you're getting at except the way I would define 'bigot' would exclude that. Perhaps something like "intolerant person calling someone intolerant of intolerance?" which is true but less of an argument since - IMHO anyway - it's kind of an equivocation.

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  180. Man, should have proofread. "Scarlet P"

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  181. except I'm not telling you how to use any words. I'm just telling you that you're a prescriptivist dick. see how this works?

    maybe you're confusing my obvious mockery of your position, "but it's still wrong and anyone who uses it otherwise is therefore dumb"--the thing that I clearly put in quotes to distance myself from it--with something I actually genuinely believe? why are most prescriptivists so fucking illiterate?

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  182. "except I'm not telling you how to use any words."

    Except implicitly. See how it really works?

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  183. Rob wins.

    Captcha: Chylse. Howe descriptivists spell Chelsea.

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  184. he didn't imply anything about how to use certain words.

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  185. Look more carefully.

    Captcha: Sluit. What descriptivists to wear to funerals.

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  186. no, I really didn't.

    or perhaps you should tell me which words I'm telling you how to use? because this coy shit isn't so much clever as it is cowardly and annoying.

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  187. Well, it's good that it's annoying. I'm sure that's karmic. As for cowardly - isn't that pretty close to saying: "on the internet".

    Anyway the good thing about not pointing it out to you is you can go away ignorant but feeling self-justified and I can continue being smug! Win-Win.

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  188. I think he means you're being prescriptivist about the word prescriptivist. Apparently he feels that, were you truly a descriptivist, he could completely avoid the sentiment you were obviously and unambiguously trying to express by saying "nah I'm not that thing".

    Captcha: repect. Who needs s's? Wait, shit.

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  189. in other words, "there aren't any, I'm just pulling shit out of my ass." got it!

    I like the "ignorant" jab though. nice touch! because you definitely know more about what I'm saying than I do.

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  190. "I see what you're getting at except the way I would define 'bigot' would exclude that"

    The argument should have stopped HERE.

    Seriously people, that's why Cuddlefish come here asking if we do anything else with our lives!

    Sincerely not giving a damn,

    Mole

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  191. "intolerant person calling someone intolerant of intolerance?"

    Yeah you're right, "bigot" didn't really work there since that implies more connections to race/culture than simply opinions

    but still a comparison:

    A: ARRGGGHH! FUCKING APPLES!!!
    B: Dude, calm down. There's no reason to be so intolerant towards apples.
    A: WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SO INTOLERANT TO MY INTOLERANCE!!! FUCKING HYPOCRITE!!

    Anon: ARRGGGHH! YOU USED A WORD WRONG!!!
    Rob: Dude, calm down. There's no reason to be so uptight about word usage language is fluid and shit.
    A: Oh so someone's opinion is different than your's it's wrong? Well your opinion is different than mine so you're wrong? You have to agree or else you're a hypocrite!!!

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  192. in fairness to dumbshit here, I never told him to calm down. I just called him a dick.

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