106: Wright Brothers

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Wright Brothers
I'm not sure if this is actually true.
Title text: I'm not sure if this is actually true.


The Wright brothers are Orville and Wilbur Wright who are credited with the invention of the airplane and who are credited with the first "controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight" in 1903, although it is not very important to know this for the comic to make sense, it is notable that they are two brothers who worked together resulting in a great technological breakthrough.

Cueball suggests to Megan that the Wright Brothers would sometimes argue each other's point during debates in order to "encourage a more balanced debate" – presumably so both brothers would explore all of the arguments on both sides.

Megan is initially against the idea of treating emotionally-charged personal issues as if they were academic debates would not work. However, Cueball argues that it would force each person to consider the other's point of view.

However, when Megan then reconsiders, accepts his argument and appears to agree that they should try it, Cueball abruptly switches his position to thinking that it's a terrible idea.

The joke is that Megan agrees with him (he has convinced her that he is right), which should end the argument. However, he then employs his Wright Brothers suggestion and takes her (initial) position that the idea was bad. Thus, the two have switched their arguments and are no closer to ending the argument; except that Megan seems to have legitimately agreed, while Cueball appears to have done so arbitrarily to try out the Wright Brothers principle.

The title text suggests that Randall may have invented the fact that the Wright brothers used this technique just so he could make the joke in this comic.


[A man and a woman are talking to each other]

Man: I've heard that when the Wright brothers argued, they periodically switched sides in the debate to try to encourage a more balanced conclusion.

Man: We should try that in our relationship!

Woman: It's a neat idea, but I think treating personal issues like a debate will only engender hostility and hurt feelings.

Man: No, I think it would help, by forcing us to consider the other person's point of view.

Woman: Hmm, maybe you're right.

Man: Am not. It's a bad idea.

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The issue date is definitely not correct, because the file doesn't have a create-date. Anyone? --Rikthoff (talk) 06:30, 3 August 2012‎ (UTC)

Fixed. Date from Archive page is May 24, 2006. --B.P. 16:07, 8 August 2012‎ (UTC)

This reminds me of Doctor Who: "The key to a fair compromise is not knowing which side you're on." In this case, however, the humans and zygons actually have their memories erased. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I guess the title text is more a joke on his previously often used sentence "It's true, do this all the time" or similar but now switched sides 18:50, 28 January 2015 (UTC) "Often, after an hour or so of heated argument, we would discover that we were as far from agreement as when we started, but that each had changed to the other’s original position." Orville Wright (1912). Although it was not a deliberate change of position as depicted in the comic, the outcome reaches the same point. --Igwarrender (talk) 16:03, 10 November 2015 (UTC)