1869: Positive and Negative Reviews

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Positive and Negative Reviews
This restaurant is great! I was feeling really sick, but then I ate there and felt better!
Title text: This restaurant is great! I was feeling really sick, but then I ate there and felt better!

[edit] Explanation

The comic shows customer reviews from people who purchased a made-up sports drink multi-pack containing twelve 20 oz (591 mL) bottles. The people who gave negative reviews are Merlin (the wizard from the legends of King Arthur) and B. Button (from the short story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and its film adaptation). Merlin remembers the future; in the T. H. White novel series The Once and Future King, he was born at the wrong end of time and has to live backwards. Benjamin Button was born with the physical appearance of an old man and grows younger as time progresses. In this comic, they apparently perceive time backwards: Merlin was thirsty then he drank the SmartQuench 9000, but he perceived it as drinking and then becoming thirsty. Benjamin Button was dehydrated then drank 3 bottles and got better, but perceived it the other way around.

Particles of matter can have a positive or negative electric charge. Particles have associated antiparticles with opposite charge. For example electrons are negatively charged particles and their antiparticles are positrons, which are positively charged. Antiparticles can be interpreted as if they were the associated particle moving backward in time. Applying that interpretation to customer reviews gives the caption of the comic: positive reviews from people traveling backward in time are negative reviews (the "antiparticles" of positive reviews).

The caption seems to say that there are only positive experiences—some going forward, some backward in life. However, Randall gives an example in the title text of a positive review which is actually about a negative experience by a person traveling backward in time (the person ate at a restaurant then got sick). The conclusion is that there are both positive and negative events, but the way they are perceived depends on both the event and whether one sees it going forward or backward in time.

[edit] Transcript

[A picture with four small bottles and a larger one is shown. The text to the right reads:]
SmartQuench 9000
Sports Drink
20 oz  12-pack
[Below is a list with reviews; a picture for the user (avatar) and the name below, the rating (in stars) and the text to the right.]
---Customer reviews---
Amy 2015 (4 of 5 stars) Perfect after a run
Anon513 (5 of 5 stars) My favorite flavor
Merlin (1 of 5 stars) Drinking this made me thirstier
Mike63 (4 of 5 stars) Good price
B Button (1 of 5 stars) Drank 3 bottles on a hot day and got dehydrated!
[Caption below the frame:]
Physics tells us that negative reviews are really just positive reviews from people traveling backward in time.

[edit] Trivia

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


This page is now available for discussions. Sorry for the delay. --Dgbrt (talk) 14:42, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

About the Trivia item "The use of the phrase 'physics tells us...' may be alluding to the way people use 'physics' or 'science' to justify nonsense.", I seriously doubt it. If there were no connection to real physics, this comic would be pretty devoid of content. And lacking much of a joke! I've been figuring that this is referencing SOME aspect of physics and applying it to real life in a silly way. I've been wanting to read about it. There must be something, maybe theorizing about time travel, maybe saying something is measured backwards? I'm reminded of the British sitcom, Red Dwarf, the episode Backwards, where they visit a future Earth where time has turned backwards, so everybody speaks backwards and everything is done backwards (where I learned that "Bitter" backwards sounds like "Erskib"). NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:05, 30 July 2017 (UTC)

Am I the only one that would likely agree with the "backwards" reviewers? Those sorts of sports drinks like Gatorade, etc taste terrible to me, and would likely result in me drinking much more water to rinse out the flavor! The same is true of soda for me. I feel like this comic might also be referencing that aspect, and an absurd attempt to justify considering even the negative reviews positive. 18:54, 30 July 2017 (UTC) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Fridge genius: First I thought if they live backwards, how come they have no numbers attached to their username? It should be something like Merlin99999999999999, just try to register your first name at any popular website even today. Then of course I realized that they would simply create their account as soon as the site goes up (shortly before it goes down, from their perspective), remembering that it was a popular site and having posted there.Ruffy314 (talk) 19:06, 30 July 2017 (UTC)

Um... wouldn't Merlin and Benjamin Button perceive it as regurgitating the drinks? I mean, they perceived the reverse results, so ingesting things should have the same effect. OriginalName (talk) 16:52, 25 August 2017 (UTC)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?