111: Firefox and Witchcraft - The Connection?

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Firefox and Witchcraft - The Connection?
ThisadpaidforbythecounciltopromoteMicrosoftandChristianity. Remember, The Bible is Closed Source.
Title text: ThisadpaidforbythecounciltopromoteMicrosoftandChristianity. Remember, The Bible is Closed Source.


The comic charts the number of members of the religion Wicca against the number of times the Firefox web browser was downloaded, with the implication being that Firefox usage causes involvement in Wicca. In juxtaposing these almost certainly unrelated phenomena, Randall highlights the common error of assuming that correlation implies causation. When two variables exhibit similar trends, this is often taken as proving that one is causing the other. However, such correlation may have come about through pure coincidence, and not indicate any link between the two at all. This is particularly a problem when examining a large number of variables: the chances of finding a coincidental correlation increase exponentially as more variables are added. It may also be the case that a third factor is causally linked to both outcomes. In this case, it is plausible that the increasing ubiquity of internet access has resulted in increased demand for Firefox, and also in greater capacity to share the ideas of Wicca.

Randall further illustrates one common, and perhaps destructive, use of illusory correlation in the bottom half of the image. The appearance of the symbol for Internet Explorer, a rival web browser, and the cross, representing Christianity, imply that this graph is an attack ad promoted by Microsoft and Christianity to gain an advantage over their competitors.

The title text is reminiscent of political commercials, which often tell you who paid for them very quickly. This high speed is represented by all the words in the title text being strung together. The last sentence is a play on the term of closed source software, which Internet Explorer is, as opposed to Firefox, which is open source in development. In a similar vein, the Bible can be considered "closed source" due to God's prohibition on altering its contents.


[A graph is shown with a positive slope.]
[Y axis]: Membership in Wicca
[X axis]: Total Firefox Downloads
[Internet Explorer icon.]
[Outline of a cross.]


This type of statistical ploy is used again in a few other comics, like 523: Decline, 552: Correlation, and 925: Cell Phones.

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Correlation does not equal causation.... I think that's one of the underlying points of this. That, and people who use IE don't understand that. ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The link to Revelation 22 is misleading. It was written several centuries before the Bible was compiled, and the phrase "this book" presumably refers to the Book of Revelation. A better scripture to link to is [Deuteronomy 4:2], which prohibits editing the words that god commands you. That's not the entire bible, but it's enough that you could realistically call it closed source. 00:23, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

The use of the open-source closed-source terminology is flawed here: open-source simply means that the source code (the program for IE and words for the Bible) is available to be read.

It does NOT mean that you can edit it (even if you don't distribute it) as anybody who owns a TiVo or has tried reading a Terms of Service document knows; that 'right' would come under the more important "Free Software" umbrella, as this article by Richard Stallman explains. YatharthROCK (talk) 06:03, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Open source does mean you can edit it. See the Open Source Definintion: "The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software." 02:48, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Wouldn't that be opensource.org's definition? 22:50, 21 November 2014 (UTC) Steven

It looks like Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's statistics on the relation between pirate's numbers and global temperature[1].--Anodibdogb (talk) 12:50, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

The Microsoft + Christianity is probably a reference to Microsoft acquiring Christianity.

This comic was in June, not August, so it might not be brought to life like us three. EDIT: Sorry, I was wrong. He was actually brought to life and became one of the comic incarnates. And today's his birthday. 935: Missed Connections (talk) 23:53, 17 April 2023 (UTC)