701: Science Valentine

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Science Valentine
You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right.
Title text: You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right.

[edit] Explanation

Cueball is taking a scientific approach to creating a valentine card. Based on the first chart, the recipient is his fiancée since he noted major events (first meeting and engaged, thus they are not married yet, or it should have been noted on the graph). The labels of a heart and smiley represent Cueball's feelings for her and happiness accordingly. This implies that Cueball had love and feelings for someone else before he first met the love he is breaking up with. While they were dating, the feelings and happiness levels were very unstable, as is expected for any new relationship. That later dropped to current levels, probably due to Cueball's lack of love towards her.

In the second panel, there are variables r0,r1,r2, each value at 0.20, -0.61, -0.83 accordingly. This is probably his love at different chronological points in his relationship, r0 being the start. This contradicts the data in the first panel's chart, as is contains no negative values, assuming a cartesian plane.

The text in the space between 2nd and 3rd panels show that Randall Munroe is against scientific misconduct. It also shows that Cueball's rigorous approach makes him realize that the happiness he derives from the relationship is declining, which presents him with a choice. Will he be a true scientist by accepting data that he doesn't like, or will he be romantic and just make a cute card?

The last panel is an obvious parody of an "arrow through a heart", a common symbol used to represent people falling in love. In this case, it is the opposite, representing breaking up.

He decides that he is a scientist and so presents his significant other with a breakup valentine. The card has a heart on it crossed by a graph with a negative trend, forming the stereotypical torn heart and showing the decline of his feelings.

The comic may be intended as a cautionary tale to new scientists; while the graph in the leftmost panel shows an apparent correlation between Cueball's love and his happiness, and it shows his happiness is lower than it might be expected to be without his partner, it fails to show that the falling love effects falling happiness-- it may be the case that falling happiness effects falling love, or that both happiness and love are affected by an unidentified factor. For example, temporary external crises may be weighing on Cueball's relationship as well as his happiness.

The title text seems to be him trying to console himself that he did the right thing. You should not use science to prove that your theory is right, but to find out which theory is the right one!

[edit] Transcript

I wanted to make you a science valentine
with charts and graphs of my feelings for you.
[A graph shows romance and happiness. Romance cuts off, indicating a breakup before the meeting of Cueball and his current significant other, and happiness dips accordingly.
A line indicates where the couple first met; romance is jagged thereafter, initially upwards but later down.
Happiness climbs slightly more steadily and then dips again.
More lines indicate a period of dating and then one of engagement.]
and the happiness you've brought me.
But the more I analyzed
[Cueball works at a computer.]
r0 = 0.20
r1 = -0.61
r2 = -0.83
the harder it became to defend my hypothesis.
In science, you can't publish results you know are wrong
and you can't withhold them because they're not the ones you wanted.
So I was left with a question: do I make graphs because they're cute and funny,
[Cueball sits, looking at a sheet of paper.]
or am I a scientist?
Enclosed are my results.
I hope you can find somebody else
[A jagged, declining graph is superimposed over a red heart.]
to be your valentine.


comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!

Discussion

If he really did figure out, by sitting down and thinking his life and their relation through, that he doesn't really love her, then he did the right thing. Of course he may not have been scientific enough, if the reasons his feelings and happiness decreases is caused by some outside agency... --Kynde (talk) 11:56, 29 April 2015 (UTC)


I think the r0, r1, r2 are correlation coefficients. They are all between -1 and 1, and all called r, which is a common name for a correlation coefficient. Also, this would mean r2 shows a strong negative correlation between two things. --108.162.215.39 06:57, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
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 or Bitcoin?