Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: Saying 'what kind of an idiot doesn't know about the Yellowstone supervolcano' is so much more boring than telling someone about the Yellowstone supervolcano for the first time.
This is certainly a great approach to take with someone that doesn't know something, rather than taking the "idiot" approach. However, I know that there are a lot of people over 30 that haven't yet seen the Diet Coke and Mentos eruption. If you are one of those people, here is a Mythbusters video. Also see the music video of Weezer's Pork and Beans.
If you are not familiar with the Yellowstone supervolcano and have missed the scare-tactics articles over the past 4 or so years, here's a great video explanation.
- I try not to make fun of people for admitting they don't know things.
- Because for each thing "everyone" knows by the time they're adults", every day there are, on average, 10,000 people in the US hearing about it for the first time.
- Fraction who have heard of it at birth = 0%
- Fraction who have heard of it by 30 ~= 100%
- US birth rate ~= 4,000,000/year
- Number hearing about it for the first time ~= 10,000/day
- If I make fun of people, I train them not to tell me when they have those moments. And I miss out on the fun.
- Megan: "Diet coke and Mentos thing"? What's that?
- Cueball: Oh man! come on, we're going to the grocery store.
- Megan: Why?
- Cueball: You're one of today's lucky 10,000.
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Regarding: "This also assumes that 10,000 people learn of something every day from the day they are born." That's not accurate. Whatever the any distribution of "age you learn" is, the average will hold. For example, if everybody learns some particular fact on their 21st birthday, it holds simply becuase there are roughly 10,000 people having their 21st birthday each and every day.
I think it also may be referring, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, to the fact that people who call people idiots because they don't know something, and yet fail to explain it, are creating ignorance to criticise it.
Person A says, "What is x?"
Person B responds, "You're an idiot for not knowing x."
Person B is now responsible for the idiocy he claims Person A to have, thus making Person B the real idiot. In this comic, he makes this point by refusing to be Person B, while at the same time making subtle references to still having the sadistic glee person B has.220.127.116.11 22:37, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
I think he's getting the pleasure of seeing the look on Person A's face when Person A learns/sees something incredible! I think it's more of a positive. -- Theo (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I wonder which relative came back to life?Pennpenn (talk) 05:02, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
Would someone care to explain the math behind this comic? 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- I did a try. The age is unimportant, it's only the birth rate. I'm happy about a feedback. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:18, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
Looks like there might be a callback to this comic in the latest What-If. http://what-if.xkcd.com/135/ 22.214.171.124 10:14, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
Yesterday I did just this! My mother had mentos and I had diet coke, and asked her if we should try to mix them (so I could show it to my children). And it turned out she'd never heard about it. So after we tried it with some success, I showed her this comic as well ;-) --Kynde (talk) 13:20, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
To explain the math...In a given year the age of people under 30 is 4 million/yr * 30 yrs. Each of these people have a 1/30 chance of learning "it" in a given year: 4 000 000/yr * 30yr * 1/30yr * 1yr/365day = 4 000 000 / 365day = 10 959/day ~= 10 000 Zelcon (talk) 23:37, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
Before solving a math problem, the most important thing to do is recognize what you are trying figure out and what the variables are. So let's examine your "statistics" for learning it. I will accept your estimation of 30 years*4 million (even though the number of people being born each year grows). However, when we get to 1/30, I have a serious issue. You are saying that my chance of learning anything in a given year is 1/30. Where did you get 30 from? The years that people are under. So you are essentially saying that a person has a 1/x chance of learning something in a given year where x is the age? This makes no sense!!! There is not a 1/30 chance that I am going to learn the cure to cancer this year!! 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
The 30 comes from the assumption that roughly 100% of people learn the "something" by age 30. You do not have a 1/30 chance of learning the cure to cancer this year, because there is not 100% chance of you knowing the cure to cancer by age 30. 188.8.131.52 19:50, 2 March 2017 (UTC)