808: The Economic Argument

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
The Economic Argument
Not to be confused with 'making money selling this stuff to OTHER people who think it works', which corporate accountants and actuaries have zero problems with.
Title text: Not to be confused with 'making money selling this stuff to OTHER people who think it works', which corporate accountants and actuaries have zero problems with.

[edit] Explanation

The image shows fields of human life that would be greatly improved and/or allowed a certain people to make a lot of money if some "weird phenomena" things (mostly paranormal) actually worked in reality or were testable and usable concepts. "Weird phenomena", in this case, means counter-intuitive things that usually go against "common sense" and which the science hasn't investigated to the full yet (or didn't find any evidence of in the first place, making claims completely unscientific). As the comic tries to prove, if there were commercial use for it and proofs of it working, there will be high investment made in the technology to use and harness such concepts.

So far, only relativity and quantum electrodynamics have found some use in the real world because they are scientific concepts, as compared to all the other ones.

Specifically, the theory of relativity allows your Global Positioning System (GPS) device to synchronize with satellites a hundred miles in the air and show your current position.

The design of modern circuit-boards and other electronic devices is influenced by quantum electrodynamics — smartphones or high capacity hard drives wouldn't be possible without that theory.

The non-scientific, disproved concepts trying to pass as real and scientific are as follows:

  • Remote viewing: Alleged ability to see and know things far away with the strength of your mind, without physically being in that place and using technology (cameras, TV screens and so on).
  • Dowsing: Alleged supernatural ability to sense, using two dowsing rods/sticks/pieces of metal where hidden valuables or underground water/oil supplies are.
    • Both dowsing and remote viewing would have greatly cut costs to oil companies, because it would have made finding new oil sources easier.
  • Auras: Non-scientific belief that every human has invisible "energy field" that can affect their health and feelings.
  • Homeopathy: Non-scientific belief that the more diluted the remedy, the more effective it is, and that a remedy before dilution should cause similar symptoms to the disease. Often diluted so much that less than one molecule of the original substance will remain, on average. Completely untrue and proven no more effective than a placebo so you can use much cheaper glucose instead with the same effect. Often advertised as "alternative medicine", which means not a medicine at all.
  • Remote Prayer: Non-scientific belief. Trying to help a person with their health problems by praying/pleading to a greater supernatural force to help them get better. While we're not ones to rag on anybody's religion, we don't have scientific proof or empirical evidence of it working; such prayer may sometimes have a detrimental effect if the person knew they were prayed for.
    • All three would have revolutionized healthcare if proven to work, which is very, very unlikely.
  • Astrology: Trying to predict the future by studying the motions of the planets for answers. Non-scientific and very popular belief that tries to look scientific; was a major focus of astronomy until science began to disprove it in the 1600s.
  • Tarot: Trying to predict the future through dealing a special deck of cards.
    • Both would have revolutionized our business planning, saving lots of money and lives, if true.
  • Crystal energy: Non-scientific belief that crystals can store "soul energy" which can be tapped into and used by human beings.
    • If true and correct, it would have revolutionized the world's technology by replacing energy sources with crystals.
  • Curses and hexes: Non-scientific belief that a person can cause supernatural harm to people and things by doing certain magical rituals and mouthing magical words.
    • If it were true, the military use of such would have proliferated rather quickly.

The title text points out that many people still believe in non-scientific, unproven, and disproved phenomena. Thus, it's possible to make a lot of money by selling those (claimed) phenomena to such people.

[edit] Transcript

[A table is labeled with three columns: "Crazy phenomenon"; "If it worked, people would be using it to make a killing in..."; "Are they?". Most of the third column is blank. Only the bottom two boxes are checked.]
Remote Viewing, Dowsing - Oil Prospecting - ☐
Auras, Homeopathy, Remote Prayer - Health Care Cost Reduction - ☐
Astrology, Tarot - Financial Business Planning - ☐
Crystal Energy - Regular Energy - ☐
Curses, Hexes - The Military - ☐
Relativity - GPS Devices - ☑
Quantum Electrodynamics - Semiconductor Circuit Design - ☑
Eventually, arguing that these things work means arguing that modern capitalism isn't THAT ruthlessly profit-focused.
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!

Discussion

Sorry if this seems like it is not proofread, English is my second language so I used spellchecker as much as I could. No grammar checker, though :(. I won't be making any more redirects, either. So, there's that.

Youngstormlord (talk) 12:54, 24 January 2013 (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?