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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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World War III+
I hate how the media only ever uses the first part of this quote, stripping it of its important context.
Title text: I hate how the media only ever uses the first part of this quote, stripping it of its important context.

Explanation

This comic takes a famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein, and expands upon it to absurd levels. The original quote "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." The basic premise of this quote is that World War III will be so devastating to the world that there will be nothing more to fight with afterwards. Randall adds to this quote by suggesting other weapons with which future World Wars could be fought with, with the title text stating that, by most occurrences of this quote not including the rest of the list, the quote's meaning changes dramatically. The Wars listed are:

  • V: Crossbows. Crossbows are type of bow that is easier to aim and fire than a regular longbow, but is much more difficult to load. Most often used in medieval eras.
  • VI: Lasers. In science fiction, blasts of lasers are often used instead of conventional guns. This suggests that society would have managed to rebuild lasers by World War VI.
  • VII: Blowguns. A blowgun is a small tube loaded with a small dart or other projectile, fired by blowing into one end. That lasers would have been replaced by them seems absurd.
  • VIII-XI: Skipped over.
  • XII: The same weapons as III, but in underground tunnels. This is a parody of saying that X is basically Y 'but in space/underwater/etc', and, if the quote's well-known meaning is accepted, this has terrifying implications for the state of the world.
  • XIII is completely unmentioned. This makes some sense, considering that XIII corresponds to 13, a number considered unlucky in many Western cultures, though it may also be an error.
  • Before Einstein can discuss World War XIV, the audience of his quote seems to be going away. Einstein claims to have 'a whole list', suggesting that he may know a lot about the future wars to come more so than he has already suggested.

Transcript

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. World War V will be fought with crossbows, World War VI will be lasers, and World War VII will be blowguns. I don't know about World Wars VIII through XI. World War XII will use the same weapons as III, but will be fought entirely within underground tunnels. World War XIV will -- Hey, come back! I have a whole list!"

-- Albert Einstein


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