603: Idiocracy

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Idiocracy
People aren't going to change, for better or for worse. Technology's going to be so cool. All in all, the future will be okay! Except climate; we fucked that one up.
Title text: People aren't going to change, for better or for worse. Technology's going to be so cool. All in all, the future will be okay! Except climate; we fucked that one up.

[edit] Explanation

The title of this comic is a reference to the dystopian comedy Idiocracy. The film postulates that over about 500 years, society will suffer from a massive decrease in intellectual potential. This development is attributed to the fact that people with a lower IQ are believed to be more fertile and thus better able to pass on their genes. The scientifical approach towards a negative correlation between intelligence and fertility is called intelligence dysgenics.

Cueball professes his approval for the theories represented in the film, and White Hat agrees with him, lamenting the gradual decay in intelligence and education. But in panel 3, White Hat suddenly reveals that all the "facts" he cited were wrong, and we learn that he doesn't support the dysgenic thesis at all. He turns to accuse Cueball of conceited self-righteousness (using religious zealots as an analogy), harshly condemning intelligence dysgenics as an excuse for feeling superior to the rest of society. Cueball's suggestion of birth control for the unintelligent only furthers his attitude. Although it is not named, one thing at work here is the Dunning-Kruger effect — that stupid people don't realize they're stupid.

White Hat's punchline, playing on Cueball's birth control suggestion, is a direct insult: it would be better to reproduce with a stupid person than an elitist like Cueball.

It's pretty clear here that Randall is voicing his opinion through White Hat, and using Cueball as a straw man. In later comics, this situation is often reversed, with White Hat as the straw man and Cueball as the reasonable one. It's probable, however, that this White Hat is not the same as the one in other comics, since his hat is rounded instead of cylindrical.

The title text reflects the opinion. It makes a few cheery comments on the future, but then finishes on a rather sour note about climate change.

[edit] Transcript

[Cueball looking at a DVD cover. White Hat stands next to him.]
Cueball: Idiocracy is so true.
White Hat: I know, right? It used to be that the intelligent, upper classes had more children.
White Hat: Sadly, the recent reversal of this trend has dragged IQ scores and average education steadily downward.
Cueball: Depressing, huh?
White Hat: Yeah, except everything I just said was wrong.
Cueball: Huh?
White Hat: Wrong. False. The opposite of true.
White Hat: You're like the religious zealots who are burdened by their superiority with the sad duty of decrying the obvious moral decay of each new generation.
White Hat: And you're just as wrong.
Cueball: But look at how popular—
White Hat: More harm has been done by people panicked over societal decline than societal decline ever did.
Cueball: Look — all we need is a program that limits breeding to—
[White Hat is walking off panel.]
White Hat: New theory: Stupid people reproduce more because the alternative is sleeping with you.
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Discussion

This explanation seems to be incorrect. The key point was that White Hat actually was wrong! The average education has gone up, and the average IQ cannot sink! By allowing Cueball to agree with clearly false laments, he baits him into revealing his stupidity. --Quicksilver (talk) 19:58, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

The title text pretty much spells out that, in Randall's mind, White Hat is correct. 199.27.128.66 06:14, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

I propose that the hatted figure is not in fact White Hat, as neither the hat shape nor the personality are consistent with other appearances. (Category:Comics featuring White Hat‏‎) The real White Hat, when he speaks, is generally a bit of a wet blanket or well-meaning buffoon. This one, whom I'll dub White Derby, is speaking counter-buffoonery, what we may reasonably guess to be the actual thoughts of the author. Usually Cueball fills this role (eg 258:_Conspiracy_Theories), and in fact if the roles here were reversed I'd tend to ignore the misshapen hat. But two and two, together, well... --66.114.70.139 18:39, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Eh. He hasn't appeared in any other strips, and it's not too harmful to put him under the umbrella of the real White Hat. I see your point; White Hat is no longer a generic character like Hairy, but an actual recurring one.
Also, have Black Hat and White Hat ever appeared in the same comic? (Click and Drag doesn't count.) Alpha (talk) 09:08, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

So, does this page qualify for Complete now? 199.27.128.66 05:36, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Sorry Randall. You're wrong here. IQ can change. Just because there is a mean for the IQ of the current population, doesn't mean that average can't shift over time. And if we used to be cavemen then either the IQ did shift, or we've always been this smart, which means we couldn't have evolved.

In this case, IQ is exactly the same as morality. Both shift ever so slightly over time, such that the mean is always the acceptable "norm". You can't feel this shift unless you study it. The difference is that morality exhibits locality, so morality shifts slower or faster depending on the subsection of society. Thus you have people who believe they are more right than others, but no one believes they are outright wrong (as a culture). Proof in the pudding is doing a poll on the population as to how smart they think they are. They always rate themselves such that the mean is shifted 1 or 2 deviations up. Same thing with morality. People all espouse a morality that they think is 1 or 2 deviations greater than the standard, whether they are a religious sect or secularists.

But the short of it, a population mean doesn't imply the mean never changes.Cflare (talk) 21:12, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

While IQ can change, the way you're explaining it is not the way the Cueball or "White Hat" is explaining it. In fact, "White Hat" never explicitly states that IQ doesn't evolve at all; just not to the depressing trend Cueball here thinks it does. Anonymous 23:04, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
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