525: I Know You're Listening

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I Know You're Listening
Basically it's Pascal's Wager for the paranoid prankster.
Title text: Basically it's Pascal's Wager for the paranoid prankster.


Cueball occasionally says "I know you're listening" aloud in empty rooms. The idea is that, with nobody listening, he doesn't lose anything; if somebody is listening, however, he gains by freaking them out. In this case, another Cueball-like surveillance man does get quite the shock.

As mentioned in the title text, this is similar to Pascal's Wager. Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher and mathematician who discussed the issue of the possibility that God actually does exist or not. According to Pascal, a rational person should live as though (a Christian) God exists, because he would lose negligible things if this turns out not to be true, but would gain immensely if it is true, by going to heaven in the afterlife. As Pascal himself recognized, this is not a proof of any god's existence, Christian or otherwise, but rather an inexorable choice made by every human being. Cueball makes a similar choice here, though hardly for such a moral reason.

Game Theory Matrix of Cueball's Choice
Nobody's spying on Cueball Somebody's spying on Cueball
Cueball does nothing Null outcome Cueball is being spied on
Cueball claims to know
that they're listening
Only an omniscient observer
would be privy to the absurdity
of Cueball's actions
Cueball freaks out the spies
Game Theory Matrix of Pascal's Wager
God does not exist God exists
Atheism Null outcome Hell
Faith Wasted effort Heaven


[Caption above the two panels of the comic:]
Now and then, I announce "I know you're listening" to empty rooms.
[Cueball is sitting in an armchair, reading. He murmurs something unreadable.]
[A second Cueball-like surveillance man with headphones seems to have gotten up from his office chair so fast that is has fallen over and lies behind him. He is now standing in front of a large computer terminal with two screens. He can hear Cueball's mumble as it is shown as coming from one of the screens. The surveillance man is leaning back away from the terminal while holding a hand to his headphones.]
[Caption below the panels:]
If I'm wrong, no one knows. And if I'm right, maybe I just freaked the hell out of some secret organization.


  • This comic has a clear resemblance to the My Hobby series. This would also make it clear that the Cueball in this comic is actually Randall.
  • 10 years later, Randall made a similar comic: 2203: Prescience.
  • See also 628: Psychic for similar guess work to make you look cool.

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Whether or not this is what the Citation request needs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager#Criticism would be helpful. Most people tend to go for the "What if it's the wrong god that you believe in?" counter to the wager. i.e. the parts of your religious observance that most please Zeus might well anger Odin greatly, or something similar for any two gods (pantheonic or sole Authority, this factor also being a major issue of choice) that you might care to compare between. This is mostly covered in the "Argument from inconsistent revelations" section of the above, it appears.

Personally my favoured counter-argument is that any sufficiently omniscient god worth his pillar-of-salt should know whether you are Wagering, and probably has a special area of Hell (or Tantarus) reserved for those that try to toady up to him by faking a belief (covered by the "Argument from inauthentic belief" section). I choose to believe that an honest non-believer might at least get a look-in at any middle-ground afterlife (regardless of their lack in belief of same), but I also don't have amy great reason to believe that this attitude is going to reward me, either.

(c.f. also the assumption that 'innocents', and people who have never been exposed to the Word Of GodTM are entitled to a free pass to some non-Hell level of afterlife, the punishment only applying after having been introduced to the whole Judeo-Christian system of post-death existence. On this basis, missionaries that go out and inform remote tribespeoples and oceanic islanders of the state of affairs are actually potentially making things a lot worse for their target audience than they would have been... Assuming that they're right in the first place.)

But note that, for every philosophical argument, there's an equal and opposite philosophical argument. I just plan on being good in the mortal world (where I know I will be rewarded, or at least regarded in a reasonably good light, if perhaps a bit of a doorstep) and if this doesn't help out when I hypothetically find myself at the Pearly Gates then I probably wouldn't have hit on the right form and combination of observances anyway so its not a wager that I could have reasonably 'won'.

This is, of course, way heavier an edit than I had intended, and I'm not suggesting that this is the best intepretation, just my own, and probably not worth a discussion over. 09:28, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

(Forgot to say... non-deity eavesdroppers probably wouldn't have the omniscience, so go ahead and randomly profess your belief in them! 09:30, 28 May 2013 (UTC))

"Wouldn't have hit on the right form and combination of observances anyway"? Hmm. If only this hypothetical God had hypothetically given us some hypothetical information... like a book or something. That would have been helpful. --Jlc (talk) 02:11, 30 November 2018 (UTC)
My best argument against pretending to believe something you doesn't is: do you really want to spend an ethernity with people whose belief you faked? For (extreme) example, if only Jehovah's witnesses go to heaven (and assuming you are not one), do you WANT to go there? Similarly, abstinents probably don't want to end in Valhalla. -- Hkmaly (talk) 08:41, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
This is a lot of unnecessary talk, even realized to be such by the one who wrote it. The explanation, as written, is fine without this extraneity. 16:24, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Since you did remove the incomplete tag I did add some more explains for Pascal's Wager. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:23, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

You get the record for longest expoundition of a title text. 18:21, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes, check your e-mail. (Not you; him.)

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 19:36, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since there is only one Cueball that "talks" it is obvious to keep him listed as Cueball. Just made a note that the other guy also looks like Cueball. --Kynde (talk) 14:43, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Cueball's calculation here is wrong. Yes, if there's nobody listening, he doesn't lose anything. But if there is, what happens when they think he's on to them could get unpleasant for him. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'd do this on the internet but there's a good chance they actually are listening. Though they can't arrest commies for being commies, they can still watchlist them and monitor them closely, especially those who admit to plotting revolution. So yes, I know the government is listening, and the government knows I know they're listening. My only wonder is what are the consequences going to be? And how much faster will it be because I know they're listening?

Perhaps Cueball shouldn't be so quick as to say such... International Space Station (talk) 05:25, 22 April 2016 (UTC)

It is funny how embarrassing doing this actually feels, and how hard it seems to be to utter out. 22:14, 1 September 2016 (UTC)

who else say I know your listening, alone. -- Overlord of oddities (talk) 21:01, 21 January 2020 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I just flip the bird at presumed hidden cameras. If I actually thought someone were listening, I'd play Why Can't We Be Friends.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:06, 21 June 2024 (UTC)