1475: Technically

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"Technically that sentence started with 'well', so--" "Ooh, a rock with a fossil in it!"
Title text: "Technically that sentence started with 'well', so--" "Ooh, a rock with a fossil in it!"


Technically, when the word "technically" is used to start a sentence, the remainder of the sentence tends to follow one of a number of patterns:

Sentence pattern Example
An explanation which is far more complex than the listener needs/wants. "Technically, a bug is a very specific order of insects, including aphids, cicadas..."
A justification of a particular (usually unpopular) viewpoint through an unusual technical definition. "Technically a tomato is a fruit, so there is no reason it shouldn't be used in a fruit salad."
A pedantic overapplication of rules or laws, often to avoid the inquiry through a technical and usually unrelated loophole. "Technically, American flag napkins are illegal."
The speaker repeating a 'little known fact', believing that they sound incredibly knowledgeable. In many cases these 'facts' are actually false, as in the example to the right (see the 10% of the brain myth). "Technically we only use 10% of our brains, so imagine what we could do if we used 100%!"
An attempt to disguise an outright lie as a simple misunderstanding in point of view. "Technically, we're not wolves. We're coyotes."

Cueball, possibly representing Randall, has decided that any sentence beginning with the word "technically" is highly likely to be completely worthless for him to listen to; so whenever he hears it at the beginning of a sentence, he allows himself to be distracted by anything which happens to be around.

There are many cases where an item is classified in what appears to be an illogical way. Some fairly well known examples are 'Tomatoes are a fruit', 'Strawberries are not berries', 'Peanuts are not nuts' and so on. The reasoning behind these seemingly unusual classifications is typically down to the technical definition of the class, which may differ from the intuitive understanding that the general public have learned. It is not unusual for people to try and appear knowledgeable by demonstrating that they are aware of correct technical classifications.

White Hat starts to pedantically answer the typically incredulous rhetorical question “Are you on drugs?!” by explaining that according to the technical definition, food is classed as a drug. This classification is false due to his incorrect interpretation of the word "drug" and lack of understanding of the role of food in human physiology, and would fall under the fourth example in the chart above. Indeed, "drug" is defined as "a substance used to treat an illness, relieve a symptom, or modify a chemical process in the body for a specific purpose", followed by a secondary definition of "a psychoactive substance, especially one which is illegal and addictive". Food, on the other hand, is defined as "any substance that can be consumed by living organisms, especially by eating, in order to sustain life". In other words, food is consumed in order to sustain the normal, innate state of the body, while drugs are consumed in order to alter certain states. The Wikipedia article for drug goes so far as to explicitly disqualify food from the definition of “drug.”

Regardless of whether or not the classification was valid, Cueball has already allowed himself to be distracted by a passing bug.

The title text starts to pedantically over-apply Cueball's rule to the comic panel, noting that technically White Hat's sentence started with the word 'well' instead of the word 'technically', and thus Cueball is wrong to have ignored it. This would fall under the second or third example in the chart. Halfway through the sentence, this argument is cut off by the discovery of a rock with a fossil in it, correctly applying the rule to a sentence that began with the word "technically".

This comic is similar to 1240: Quantum Mechanics, in that they both suggest ignoring sentences containing a certain word or phrase indicating a pedantic attitude.


[White Hat talks to Cueball who looks at a flying insect.]
White Hat: Well, technically, food is a "drug", since it's a substance that alters how your body works, so yes, I'm—
Cueball: Hey, look at that weird bug!
[Caption below the panel:]
My life improved when I realized I could just ignore any sentence that started with "technically."

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Technically, it's poor form and rude to ignore someone based on *Clicks Random page* Xseo (talk) 13:45, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

It's also possible that Cueball is purposefully inviting another "technically" sentence by stating he's looking at a bug, since it's unlikely he's looking at a member of the order Hemiptera. 14:21, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

Well, it seems that White hat is responding to being asked if he is taking drugs, and technically, any food item that is consumed only for its taste or other effect on the body and mind, such as chocolate, could be argued to be a drug by a combination of both definitions given in the explanation. 17:39, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

Along the same lines as the "bug" statement, does "a rock with a fossil in it" invite any sort of technical correction? I wouldn't know, personally, but there might be some people out there who would argue that since the fossil was a rock, or some other quibble about the phrase? 20:19, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

At that point, I'd say we're drastically overthinking this. Rocks are not in and of themselves fossils, but they are the most common substance in which fossils are found. (And anyway, most of the discussion about refining that definition would probably include several sentences starting with "technically", which I'd immediately ignore. ;)) KieferSkunk (talk) 21:56, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

Even though the comic doesn't state this specifically, I wonder if this one goes under his "My Hobby" series. It certainly seems to be in the same spirit. KieferSkunk (talk) 21:57, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

If it's not labeled "My Hobby", it doesn't belong in that series. There are similarities, but they aren't exactly the same, and it's not labeled as part of the "My Hobby" series. NealCruco (talk) 03:30, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I think it's rather an opposing behavior. In "My Hobby" it is usually Cueball driving others nuts, here he ignores someone else who is trying to drive him nuts. -- 06:53, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

techically,you can make a fruit salad with only tomatoes and cucumbers Sci0927 (talk) 15:23, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

Please explain what is meant by "third type" and "fourth type" in the current comic description 22:59, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

It referred to a chart (now deleted) giving the "types" of sentences beginning with "technically". I have replaced this with the definition originally in the chart.-- 23:24, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Just my opinion, but I think that the table with four "types" originally made by Pudder was pretty good and educating, maybe we should restore it.Nyq (talk) 17:05, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree. The deleting editor just said it was unnecessary, without any application as to why. I think it's perfectly okay to give people a quick overview of whatever the comic's topic is. The chart improves the article, so I've decided to be bold and restore it. If anyone has objections, bring them up here. NealCruco (talk) 17:28, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Fully support the restoration and the reasoning for it! Nyq (talk) 19:48, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

Maybe related to comic 1240? 00:29, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

It seems highly likely that, as per previous comments, both the bug and fossil inclusions are not just purely distractions, but references to items that would commonly invoke pedantic 'technical corrections'. I suggest it is worth including in the explanation 02:32, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

I agree on the bug which has already been mentioned. Have included that. But I do not know ennough about fossils to see why the sentence from the title text could be corrected. You domhave fossils in rocks? --Kynde (talk) 20:39, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Technically, rocks aren't fossils, but rather they CONTAIN foss-- oh, you're not listening to me anymore. Nevermind. :) KieferSkunk (talk) 22:01, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

Technically, does it make a difference if there is a comma behind the word technically? (see examples) I never really understood English punctuation rules ... -- 06:53, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Hey, look at this cool tree! -- 23:29, 14 January 2021 (UTC)

His sentence didn't start with "Technically"; it started with "Well". Does not compute.DouglasHeld (talk) 21:34, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

"The title text starts to pedantically over-apply Cueball's rule to the comic panel, noting that technically White Hat's sentence started with the word 'well' instead of the word 'technically', and thus Cueball is wrong to have ignored it." Part of the joke is that there are a certain type of people who will pick apart every little detail of a statement or rule, and apply its 'technical' interpretation, rather than the spirit of rule. --Pudder (talk) 22:04, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

"Whales are not fish" is a very poor example: it's not a technicality, but a very major and quite obvious difference. At least where I live, most people are aware of this, except for very small children or *extremely* uneducated persons. The other examples ("Peanuts are not nuts" and "Tomatoes are fruit") are *way* more appropriate. -- 00:48, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

I would disagree that its a poor example, and I would wager that the majority of people couldn't give the basic definition of a mammal. Whales and fish both swim in the sea, both look alike (albeit on different scales), and are markedly similar in other ways. I know that whales are mammals rather than fish, but I couldn't explain all the differences. I certainly wouldn't call someone extremely uneducated if they thought whales were fish, as to me it is a fairly logical conclusion to come to. --Pudder (talk) 17:21, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
Actually, the non-technical definition of "fish" is that it swims in water, does not walk on land, and breaths water. And any modern third grader knows that whales breath air, despite fitting the other criteria. Anonymous 20:16, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
"Actually" is another zero-content indicator... -- 04:54, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
Zoology major here: many fishes breathe air (armored catfishes, gouramis and paradise fishes, and [of course] lungfishes, to name three groups). Now technically, if you use cladistic taxonomy, the fishes must include reptiles, which in turn includes the birds and mammals, but you didn't read this far. Nitpicking (talk) 03:36, 24 June 2023 (UTC)

Oh my gosh, a Sandra Boynton reference! Those are rare (aardvark quote is from her book Philadelphia Chickens) :)

Technically, the comment about American flag napkins is correct only in Washington, D.C. 4 USC 3 prohibits flag napkins in DC as a misdemeanor. 4 USC 8 discourages flag napkins but does not criminalize them. (At least based on the law cited by the article, 4 USC Chapter 1. State or local laws or other sections of the USC might say more.) Jordan Brown (talk) 03:14, 14 October 2023 (UTC)