Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
There is an oft-stated urban myth that men think about sex every seven seconds. See for example this BBC article, where they say that a more realistic number is 19 times in a waking day, i.e. once every 50 minutes.
In this comic Cueball is a sociologist, and the thought bubbles show his train of thoughts regarding this myth. First of all, he flatly denies that it could be true, and progressively his thoughts move to the effects if it were true, and then Cueball considers how it would even be studied. The title of the comic (Every seven seconds) hints strongly that this is the subject he is thinking about, and this is subsequently confirmed both in the caption and in the title text.
The setup is that thinking about sex every seven seconds would be dysfunctional and unproductive in addition to making working, social interactions and etcetera nearly impossible as explained by the sociologist's thoughts. The punch line is that thinking about how ridiculous it is to think about sex every seven seconds every seven seconds is just as dysfunctional and unproductive even if the thought time is spent refuting the original notion as understood in third person.
The irony of the comic is that in thinking every seven seconds about how impossible it would be for men to think about sex every seven seconds, the sociologist is, in fact, thinking about sex every seven seconds, albeit in a roundabout way.
In the title text, the narrator (Randall or Cueball the sociologist?) says he thinks about how implausible it would be to have sex every seven seconds, several times a year. See alternate interpretations below:
In the title text, the narrator's statement leaves some meaning up to interpretation:
- Every few months, I "think about sex" every seven seconds [in one day, i.e. 8200 times that day] and how weird and implausible [having intercourse] would be.
- Implying that narrator's sex life is not very active.
- Every few months, I think about "sex every seven seconds" and how weird and implausible [having intercourse every seven seconds] would be.
- Having sex every seven seconds is implausible.
- Every few months, I think about [the statistic that men think about] sex every seven seconds and how weird and implausible it would be.
- An even more realistic take on the main comic's topic.
- Every few months, I think about "sex" every seven seconds and how weird and implausible [such an assertion] would be.
- This interpretation is a bit paradoxical, because it implies that the narrator finds himself thinking about the very thing he dismisses as a possibility to think about so often.
- Every few months, I think about "sex every seven seconds and how weird and implausible it would be."
- The narrator (probably Randall) thinks about how implausible he finds the premise of "every seven seconds" every few months.
- [Cueball is walking with four thought bubbles above him.]
- Cueball (thinking):
- There’s no way that’s true.
- It would interfere with basic cognition.
- Such a ridiculous view of masculinity.
- How would you even study that?
- [Caption below the panel:]
- Every seven seconds, sociologists
- think about that made-up statistic
- about how often men think about sex.
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Not true, but where did it come from? http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/thinksex.asp 184.108.40.206 11:55, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
Sorry SteveMB, but I don't think we need to tell the joke again in order to explain it. . Xhfz (talk) 12:58, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
- While this may be true, I actually found the first explanation to be much more valuable and insightful than this two mini-paragraph drab. The author of this new version doesn't even make the distinction between thinking about sex every seven seconds and thinking about having sex every seven seconds. Jarod997 (talk) 13:04, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
- Agreed. Although the first explanation wasn't perfect, it was better than the replacement. The title text explanation in this version is missing the point. We should look to re-incorporate some/most of the original explanation. --Pudder (talk) 13:08, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
- The first explanation says nothing about sociologists. I added that when I realized I had missed it, and Pudder realized it was missing when he read my terse explanation, but not when he read the verbose explanation that SteveMB wrote. Note also that we always explain the difficult terms first (seven seconds in this case). The original "explanation" actually is a retelling of the joke. Xhfz (talk) 13:29, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
- The sociologist joke explanation was missing, I noted that when I added the incomplete tag, not because of your comment. In adding your explanation you wiped a lot of existing explanation, perhaps you believe it isn't necessary, but its frustrating because your explanation is frankly no better. In particular, your version of the title text explanation is simply missing the point. (The point that was previously explained!) --Pudder (talk) 13:34, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
The title text is misunderstood. It's about <<sex in every 7 seconds>> he thinks, how unplausible that would be. 220.127.116.11 13:39, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
You all may be right about the title text. Xhfz (talk) 13:44, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
|Cueball is raising skeptical objections to something, first dismissing the notion out of hand ("There's no way that's true."), then noting that it would cause obvious and unmistakable effects that are not, in fact, observed ("It would interfere with basic cognition."), then deciding that the idea is tied to an absurd worldview ("Such a ridiculous view of masculinity."), then raising the question of how anyone would even know whether or not the claim is true ("How would you even study that?"). These objections, particularly the second and third one, and the title "Every Seven Seconds" suggest that the statement Cueball is dismissing is the oft-stated assertion that men think about sex every seven seconds.
The title text confirms this inference...
|In this joke Cueball seems to be raising skeptical objections to this myth [the seven-seconds myth]. The title of the comic (Every seven seconds) hints strongly about it, and all comments lead us to believe that Cueball wants to debunk the myth. However in the punchline we learn that Cueball is a sociologist who disbelieves in a team of his colleagues actually studying such a difficult subject (the same objection raised in BBC's reference).
The first explanation says nothing about sociologists, and falls into the trap of believing that the joke is simply about debunking an urban myth. I fell into that trap myself, but soon I realized my mistake. Xhfz (talk) 13:51, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
I think the Explanation is missing the obvious connotations to this joke. For example, "Cueball is a sociologist who disbelieves in a team of his colleagues actually studying such a difficult subject" what does this even mean? The explanation is that sociologists (implied: all sociologists) think about the urban myth every seven seconds and the thought bubbles in the comic are their possible thoughts. Each thought bubble would take place predictably every seven seconds. The setup is that thinking about sex every seven seconds would be dysfunctional and unproductive in addition to making working, social interactions, etc... nearly impossible as explained by the sociologists thoughts. The punch line is that thinking about how ridiculous it is to think about sex every seven seconds is just as dysfunctional and unproductive even if the thought time is spent refuting the original notion as understood in third person.--R0hrshach (talk) 16:27, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
- Agreed, nowhere does the comic imply that Cueball is thinking about any "team". His thoughts are about how ridiculous the fact is. 18.104.22.168 04:54, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
- Plausibility of every seven seconds
Cueball is thinking about it from a statician's standpoint (units have a tendency to be within a couple orders of magnitude at furthest). However, it should be pointed out that from a math & physics perspective, there's nothing irrational about the comment at all. Afterall, a person can assume that it's an average. (Afterall, it would be difficult for a counterpoint of un-concious un-dreaming men to be thinking about sex every seven seconds.) "Once" leaves a lot of wiggle room as "once" is not coupled with any particular unit of measurement. Once could be one second, it could be seven seconds, it could be a millionth of a second.
All a man (or woman) would have to do is think about sex once in their entire lifespan, and that moment would just have to be divided by 1/7th of all of the seconds in their life combined, and you have your average figure.
So, considering that interpretation, I would like to present my mathmatical observation to provide a more complete picture of men thinking of sex every seven seconds...
Women think about sex once every 3 seconds.
22.214.171.124 07:10, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
- If you think about it from a math & physics perspective, you are actually showing how ridiculously unsubstantial that "once per 7 seconds per average" statement is. Puting aside the "how do you count that" problem, the BBC approach of counting how many times per day people think about sex makes more sense. For example, if you are actually HAVING sex, you are likely to think about it for (significantly) longer than 7 seconds without interruption. (Jokes about premature ejaculation and about women thinking what to make for dinner while having sex notwithstanding.) -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:01, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
Having sex an average of an hour each day and defining "thinking about" as to cover each moment would give a rate of once every twenty-four seconds. Note that if ones definition of "thinking about" allows for multiple thoughts in parallel (e.g. while dancing at a concert, think of the beat, the melody, your partners, the crowd, your current/anticipated dance moves, the lyrics, sex AND drugs) would increase the feasibility of such high ratios.
Measuring frequency of sexual thoughts by giving a click counter for subjects to press when for each direct and indirect thought about sex can approach 100%, if the subject thinks about sex by considering whether to push the button, because each button press would correspond to another thought to be tallied.
Comet (talk) 20:27, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
You are standing on a garden path. To the left, the complex houses married and single soldiers and their families. To the right, the horse raced past the barn fell. The old man the boat. The government plans to raise taxes were defeated. Aasasd (talk) 08:01, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
I think about sex WAY more than I'd like to admit, and involving a thing I'd rather not admit either, and I'm a girl. Given that I spend about minimum 3-4 hours per day either masturbating or drawing porn or in general thinking sexy thoughts, yes. On average, I personally think of sex every 7ish seconds. Yes, I realize this is an issue. No, it's not interfering with the important, college-related things in my life. No I don't care to "fix" my "problem" Hahaha! International Space Station (talk) 04:53, 7 October 2015 (UTC)