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Revision as of 01:59, 30 October 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Evangelism
The wars between the "OTHER PRIMATES OPEN THEM FROM THE SMALL END" faction versus the "BUT THE LITTLE BIT OF BANANA AT THE SMALL END IS GROSS" faction consumed Europe for generations.
Title text: The wars between the "OTHER PRIMATES OPEN THEM FROM THE SMALL END" faction versus the "BUT THE LITTLE BIT OF BANANA AT THE SMALL END IS GROSS" faction consumed Europe for generations.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Need a citation for primates opening bananas from the "other end". Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

Evangelism, in Christianity, is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. Many people are frustrated with door to door evangelism like Jehovah's Witnesses, for whom evangelism is a big part of their religion, but the frustration goes in general to all kind of missionaries.

Evangelism has a second definition as any zealous advocacy for a cause, religious or not. So in this comic Randall presents a line plot where causes are listed in order from advocates who are least intense to most intense going left to right, and the joke is that the religious proselytizers are much less intense than those that advocate for opening bananas from the other end, which is also the subject of the title text. The reason for this, and why the comic came out on this day, is likely that it was the official Banana Day in the US the day the comic was released (although this day was not (yet?) on this list of food days in the US).

As the graph moves from left to right, the issues at stake have less and less impact on the life of someone who "converts", but the intensity and fervor of those spreading the cause increases. This is something of a paradox, and points out the situational irony of what causes people promote the most. However, this may make sense. Due to the fact that these issues have a more trivial impact on life, evangelists may become more frustrated when people refuse to adopt these "simple" changes and therefore argue more strongly for them.

Below each of the points on the chart as well as the title text is discussed.

Religious proselytizers

Religious proselytizers are the best known evangelists, and the term "evangelism" originally applied only to them. Christian evangelism has become less common and less acceptable in the public sphere in recent decades, and often only practiced in specific venues. Randall contrasts them in this strip with four other groups which he finds to be more intense in their "evangelism".

People who want the US to switch to metric

Unlike most of the world, the US uses US customary units instead of metric units. Some people wish for this to change.

Randall has made a conversion chart for helping US people with the confusing metric units: 526: Converting to Metric.

People who want the US to switch to metric but keep Fahrenheit

Pro-metric people who wish to keep the Fahrenheit scale rather than change to Celsius are ranked as slightly more evangelic. A common argument for keeping the Fahrenheit scale is due to 0°F equating to "really cold" and 100°F to "really hot" when talking about weather. Fahrenheit also has smaller degrees, so temperatures can be cited more precisely without the need to include fractional degrees. This also means Fahrenheit has the advantage that "decades" of temperatures are more useful as in saying the weather is in the 40s or the 70s, for instance. Because the Celsius degree is larger, the range of temperatures within any decade is wider and saying the temperature is in the 10s may not be as useful as it is a wider range of temperatures, compared to Fahrenheit.

It could be argued that making the shift only partly would be very silly, but these people argue even more vehemently than those that wish to shift entirely. The fact that making a partial shift may seem odd may be why people need more convincing and therefore more intense evangelism. Also, if someone is being an SI purist, supporting a full shift to SI units, one could argue they should be advocating a switch to Kelvin as the unit of thermodynamic temperature, even though Celsius has the status of an SI derived unit.

Fahrenheit versus Celsius has been the topic of 1643: Degrees and 1923: Felsius.

People who threw away their socks and bought all one kind

The reason to do so, is that any two socks in your drawer will match, and you will never end up with an unmatched sock, or a whole stack of them in your drawer. This is a problem that science has researched.

But it is also quite boring to always wear the same color socks/clothing. But those that do, recommend it to all their friends, according to Randall. These kind of people are thus listed as even more evangelic than the pro metric people.

Randall previously used this in the xkcd survey (see 1572: xkcd Survey) from September 2015. It included this question:

Have you ever thrown out all your different pairs of socks/underwear, bought a bunch of replacements that were all one kind, and then told all your friends how great it was and how they should do it too?
People who open bananas from the other end

The most evangelic people Randall can think of is the people who open bananas from the other end! Some people prefer to open bananas from the bottom (small end) instead of the top (stem end). This thought is continued in the title text.

Title text

The title text is a fictional argument that apparently somehow tore apart Europe between the two factions Other primates open them from the small end and But the little bit of banana at the small end end is gross. It continues the most evangelic point in the chart about how bananas are supposed to be opened from the "right" end. It seems absurd that this could have actually happened, but such schisms in religion, like Catholic vs Protestantism did split Europe in two with the reformation, and many (non religious people) would argue that the difference between the two versions of Christianity are of the same order of importance as which end the banana is opened from...

The supposed argument stems[Pun Intended] from a disagreement over the suggested ease of opening a banana from the bottom, versus the idea that the small bit at the base of a banana is unappetizing.

In the wild primates have been observed to open bananas[citation needed] from the bottom end away from the stem, as one of the two factions refer to. Less force is required to open a banana at the bottom than at the stem, causing less bruising of the fruit and generally making it easier to open. However, if not done carefully, this can result in the fruit getting squished and making a mess on the person's fingers. Opening bananas from the stem end appears to be the predominant habit of most banana-eating humans in Randall's sample. One explanation is that opening using the stem as a lever makes for greater ease of opening and thus less damage in practice. (Bananas grow with the stem at the bottom).

The entire correct banana end discussion could be a reference to the wars between the Blefuscudians who opened their eggs at the big end, and the Lilliputians who broke their eggs at the small end, as documented in Jonathan Swift's epic novel Gulliver's Travels.

Randall's thoughts on the problems with opening bananas could also explain why this fruit, that many find very easy to peel and consume, is listed in the middle of the easy/difficult scale in the 388: Fuck Grapefruit chart.

Transcript

[A chart is shown with a line drawn from left to right with five markers on it. Each marker has a line going to it from a labeled below the main line. Above this there is a title and right below that a label above an arrow pointing to the right.]
People by intensity of evangelism
More intense
Religious proselytizers
People who want the US to switch to metric
People who want the US to switch to metric but keep Fahrenheit
People who threw away their socks and bought all one kind
People who open bananas from the other end


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