Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Bee honey is a food item with natural antimicrobial properties. It can remain unspoiled for a person's entire lifetime, making it practically nonperishable for ordinary consumers. It is frequently claimed that archaeologists have found jars of honey that have been well-preserved for thousands of years in ancient tombs, often those found in Egyptian pyramids, hence the title Pyramid Honey. The claims are generally assertions which may point to other similar assertions as supporting evidence but do not provide specific details, such as the identity of the actual tombs where such jars have been found, or the names of the archaeologists who have affirmed finding such jars. The commonality of the assertion, however, leads some people to claim that honey's shelf life is "infinite", which is a much stronger claim which would not be supported by the assertion even if it is shown to be factual.
In the comic, Cueball tells Megan about an article in Smithsonian Magazine (presumably this one) that claims honey has an infinite shelf life. The article links to a book which makes the assertion of such findings but does not provide factual support of the findings. Megan thinks the sources of the article are wrong and wants to refute it. She tells Cueball Believe it or not which Black Hat hears and he immediately states that he believes her, and is convinced without hearing any arguments from Megan. He then decides to begin a Facebook page so he can tell the Internet without giving Megan a chance to explain any further.
"A hill to die on" is a phrase from Ernest Hemingway's 1940 novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls", about an American who volunteers in the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War to fight fascism, who ends up wounded and alone, about to ambush the enemy to give his comrades a chance to escape; "a weird hill to die on" would thus mean a weird cause, if not a just one, to fight for to the bitter end. Black Hat asserts that he needs such a cause because the "real" weird hills are too far from his house, humorously implying he would be equally satisfied with a literal weird hill.
Black Hat's actions are clearly premature, since he has not heard any evidence to back up the claim and does not understand the nuances of Megan's position. Cueball states that it could have gone better, whereas Megan seems to be resigned to it.
Presumably, the best Black Hat can do would be to parrot what he has heard from Megan, without any understanding or critical thinking on his part. Due to his lack of understanding, he may even interject his own ideas (ones Megan never believed nor stated) into his posts. These are all consistent with him calling himself "pyramid honey truther". The word truther refers to people who reject established facts and instead choose to believe in conspiracies, like people who claim the moon landings never happened, or believe the US government is behind the 9/11 attacks. While a few conspiracy theories turn out to be true most are easily proved to be fake, but this does not stop people from believing in them anyway, just like the two mentioned here, which are not easily dismissed by believers. This turns Megan, who likely has a reasonable and well-justified position, unwillingly into the source of conspiracy theories.
Alternatively he only does this to troll Megan (and Cueball), and everyone else that reads his Facebook page, just because he knows they will get annoyed. And also to state that this is an unimportant subject (a weird hill to fight for) to make such a fuss over. No one wish to eat that old honey anyway, or wish to keep it for that long, so he may see this as a completely uninteresting subject and thus makes fun of Megan with his statements. This would also be more in line with his usual behavior.
The title text refers to the Eye of Providence, a symbol of an eye at the top of a pyramid, found on US currency and often associated with conspiracy theories of the Illuminati. Black Hat again refers to the pyramid honey found under the pyramids and calls it a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. This usually means that the politicians (or the government agencies) ruling the country know about it, but keep it a secret from the public. But in this case he mixes up terms and says it goes to the top of the pyramid (from the bottom), to where the giant eye is. As promised he also writes four words in all capital letters, shouting out the TRUTH!
This comic is likely a satire of the stereotypical internet mindset, and plays up the frequent confusion between legitimate scientific scepticism, where unsupported claims are rejected, and conspiracy-theory faux-scepticism, where legitimate evidence is rejected because it does not support a specific viewpoint.
- [Cueball and Megan are talking.]
- Cueball: Apparently honey has an infinite shelf life. They just found jars of it in the pyramids, still good.
- Megan: You know, I've heard that, and I don't think its true.
- [Black hat enters.]
- Cueball: Really? Smithsonian magazine confirmed it.
- Megan: Believe it or not, I think their source is wrong.
- Black Hat: I believe you.
- [Megan has turned to Black Hat raising her hands.]
- Megan: See I read about the archeologists who-
- Black Hat: I'm convinced. Gonna go to tell the internet.
- [Black Hat moved closer to Megan and Cueball.]
- Megan: Wait, are you sure? Let me explain why I-
- Black Hat: Don't need it. I've heard enough.
- [Zoom-in on Black Hat's head.]
- Black Hat: I've been looking for a weird hill to die on, and all the real ones are too far from my house.
- Black Hat: So this is mine. I'm now a pyramid honey truther.
- [Zoom back out. Black Hat starts walking left, pointing a finger up. Cueball and Megan turns to look after him.]
- Black Hat: Time to start a Facebook group and post a bunch of all-caps comments everywhere.
- Cueball: This could have gone better.
- Megan: Oh well.
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Seems like this could be the Smithsonian reference! --Kynde (talk) 13:53, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Anyone know what the counter source or argument is? 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
This looks like it could be the source that inspired the strip:
http://irna.lautre.net/Honey-in-the-pyramids.html 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Looks like a place to start digging for references: http://bumblehive.com/honey-was-not-found-in-pharaohs-tombs/ -- JourneymanWizard (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Did Randall draw the wrong colored hat?? jameslucas (" " / +) 15:09, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
- Nah, I think it's just IRL trolling. 126.96.36.199 15:34, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Could this be the ned of Black Hat? The end of xkcd?! 188.8.131.52 16:06, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Correction: this doesn't put "Megan unwillingly into the same camp as conspiracy theorists" it puts Black Hat there. 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- No. Black hat is very much willing to join the conspiracy theorist camp. Rather, he creates it. Megan isn't a conspiracy theorist, her scepticism towards Cueballs honey claims are perfectly valid. But to an outside observer, she promotes the same viewpoint as Black hat. Indeed, Black hat even refers to Megan for "evidence". So Megan is forever assosiated with the Pyramid Honey truthers, despite having nothing to do with them. --220.127.116.11 09:35, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
This Reddit thread cites https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey#Preservation and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey#Ancient_times 18.104.22.168 18:58, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
The phrase "a weird hill to die on" could probably use an explanation, too, as I'd never heard of that (or its apparent source phrase "Is this the hill you want to die on?", based on some quick googling) before. 22.214.171.124 23:04, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
- "Is this the hill you want to die on?" sounds to me like a line from a war movie, e.g. this one https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburger_Hill. Maybe its origin is indeed something military, as some sources suggest: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/162813/what-is-the-origin-of-the-phrase-a-mountain-im-willing-to-die-on Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 06:49, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
I have a possible source for the "weird hill to die on" reference, saw it on BBC a while back: Body on the Moor; http://www.bbc.com/news/resources/idt-e8c6cbab-da44-4a3c-8f9b-c4fccd53dd24. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Every particle physicist knows that the shelf life of honey is at most 1042 years, just like everything else. --188.8.131.52 00:51, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
- Only if you assume nucleon decay. If Earth doesn't get absorbed into a black hole and then Hawking Radiated out, the honey would just continue to cool long into the heat death of the universe, eventually cold-fusioning via quantum-tunnelling into Iron-56 by 101500 years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_an_expanding_universe#Future_without_proton_decay. Ehryk (talk) 02:23, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
re: tooltip - I thought it was a floating giant eye? --184.108.40.206 00:59, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
The "weird hill to die on" phrase could mean a point of view Black Hat will defend to the last, regardless the sense of it (which makes sense with the militarian source).
He might find such a thing worth to find because it would give his entire life a (though in general maybe and in this case definitely unuseful) purpose.
furthermore, by simply spreading Megan's claim without considering the nuances of her point and questioning it thouroughly he does basically the same as ll the people who claim honey's shelf life to be infinite (who apparently never thought of asking for further information where exactly the honey was found and by whom).
220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- when the explanation for "weird hill to die on" as a phrase gets settled the explanation should probably also reference Black Hat's mixing of the metaphorical use (a debate position or principled stand) and a literal hill ("[A]ll the real ones are too far from my house.") 18.104.22.168 12:24, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
So, the "hill to die on" expression does relate back to the military some. Hills are good defensive places (ask any Civilization player). It's much easier to defend yourself when the other army is trying to run up a hill. Hence why lots of forts and military battles are associated with hills. The hill you die on, then, is that area of contention that you'll stubbornly defend to the very end. And of course Black Hat is making something like a zeugma when he mixes the metaphorical and literal meanings. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
"a hill to die on" appears in chapter 27 of the novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls", by Ernest Hemingway, published in 1940, about the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War in which many non-Spanish volunteers joined the fight on one side or the other for ideological reasons. The book ends with the American protagonist, alone and wounded, preparing to ambush the enemy to buy time for the escape of his comrades; he will probably not survive. GrayJay (talk) 04:36, 10 August 2016 (UTC)--
Some facts about honey Honey: Bacteria's Worst Enemy --126.96.36.199 14:27, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
"While some conspiracy theories turn out to be true, most, like the two mentioned here, are fake": while it's completely clear that the Moon landing not happening theory is false, we can't be 100% sure about the 9/11 theories at the moment (of course, the one mentioned is highly unlikely, but it's not refuted to the level of the moon landing conspiracy theories at the moment). I suggest correcting this statement into something weaker. 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Wouldn't Black Hat just be trolling everyone else? I can't find the idea among the discussion, and neither in the the explanation, while it seems the obvious one to me. Deliberately spreading conspiracy theorists seems exactly his thing (just like the way he met Danish was a form of deliberate trolling...) 184.108.40.206 15:25, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
- I totally agree. I'm now a "Black Hat always behaves like Black Hat truther"... :-) No seriously I agree and have added this as an alternative reason for his behavior. Maybe my version could be improved though? --Kynde (talk) 11:51, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
I've tried to keep honey in my fridge for a while. After five years or so, it's mostly just so much crystallized sugar. In principle, after a sufficiently long time (probably less than a millenium), all the sugar should probably crystallize away, leaving something that isn't really honey. 220.127.116.11 01:20, 12 August 2016 (UTC)
"Megan seems to think it is OK as long as it is her opinion Black Hat spreads out." You get this from the phrase "Oh well"? A common statement of resignation? 18.104.22.168 01:33, 12 August 2016 (UTC)
- Has been changed by someone now, that's what so nice about a wiki ;-) --Kynde (talk) 11:51, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
- Yeah, just look at all that consensus established in the discussion field. 22.214.171.124 23:46, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps an alternate explanation for Black Hat's quote "and all the real ones are too far away from my house" would be that he's referring to the real problems. The phrase, "a hill to die on" refers to something you'll defend to the bitter end-- there are many things in the world that need to be fought for, many injustices against which we ought to direct our energy to stopping... and yet people find time to waste fighting about irrelevant, stupid things (like whether or not honey has infinite shelf-life-- I mean, really, how many lives is this going to change?). The reason for this is because to fight for those things, the important things, requires one to actually do something, to get off his/her butt and put effort, energy, money, and more into solving it. But whining/ranting on twitter about something that doesn't matter (or can't be solved by whining/ranting on the internet)? While it takes a lot of [wasted] time and energy to do that, its significantly less effort than, well, doing something meaningful to make a positive difference in the world. So that's why I think Black Hat meant: not that the weird hills were literally too far from his house, but that all the important things to fight for would take too much effort (he would have to get off his butt and go somewhere and strive). Or I might be reading too much into this due to my personal annoyance with pointless internet crusades. *shrug* ~EinarAmund 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Black Hat, being Black Hat, is going to troll the internet by stating honey can not last that long (just as Megan said). His scam assume the opposers will bombard him with honey jars to prove their point, with an amount allowing him to literally build a hill made of honey jars. 188.8.131.52 10:41, 18 August 2016 (UTC)