# 718: The Flake Equation

## Explanation

The Flake equation is a parody of the Drake equation, which estimates the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the galaxy.

The title text refers to Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox as a parody of the Fermi paradox: The contradiction between the high estimated probable existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of establishing contact to such civilizations by humans.

Another comic parodying this equation is 384: The Drake Equation. The credibility of paranormal reports in general is revisited in 1235: Settled, which posits that if such phenomena were real they should have been unambiguously captured on camera by now.

## Transcript

- The Flake Equation:
- P = W
_{P}× (C_{R}+ M_{I}) × T_{K}× F_{0}× F_{1}× D_{T}× A_{U}≈ 100,000 - Where:
- W
_{P}= World Population (7,000,000) - C
_{R}= Fraction of people who imagine an alien encounter because they're crazy or want to feel special (1/10,000) - M
_{I}= Fraction of people who misinterpret a physical or physiological experience as an alien sighting (1/10,000) - T
_{K}= Probability that they'll tell someone (1/10) - F
_{0}= Average number of people they tell (10) - F
_{1}= Average number of people each friend tells this "firsthand" account (10) - D
_{T}= Probability that any details not fitting the narrative will be revised or forgotten in retelling (9/10) - A
_{U}= Fraction of people with the means and motivation to share the story with a wider audience (blogs, forums, reporters) (1/100)

- W
- Even with conservative guesses for the values of the variables, this suggests there must be a
*huge*number of credible-sounding alien sightings out there, available to anyone who wants to believe!

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# Discussion

Anybody notice that the real product of the numbers he gives is 6.3 (10), not 100,000? 02:32, 16 April 2017 (UTC)

No, it's not - you've multiplied Cr and Mx when you should have added them. The real product is 126,000 = 100,000. 162.158.69.51

There was a later comic about our capabilities' precluding of UFO sightings and such. I may find it at some point. --Quicksilver (talk) 02:51, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Settled

googlesearch=site:explainxkcd.com ufo

http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1235:_Settled

Kevin McCready (talk) 13:25, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

Is there any significance to the word "flake"? Urban Dictionary says it stands for "unreliable person", but certainly not in context of alien sightings. --162.158.90.217 13:34, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

It's a portmanteau of "Drake" and "Fake". --172.68.10.94 10:58, 4 February 2017 (UTC)