154: Beliefs

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 21:34, 6 March 2015 by (talk) (Explanation: Hopefully addressed the title text)
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Scientists are also sexy, let's not forget that.
Title text: Scientists are also sexy, let's not forget that.


This comic is a reference to Young Earth creationism, which includes the belief that the Earth has only existed for about 6,000 years. Young Earth creationism is mainly based on literal interpretations of the Bible, which is frowned upon by most Bible scholars, to say nothing of empirical scientists.

The professor is originally not bothered by the fact that someone believes in Young Earth creationism and simply tells the child to look at the scientific evidence. She assumes that even a child could see that the creationist's arguments make no sense and can safely be ignored. However, she then hears that the person is actually a United States senator, who would presumably influence national policy according to his creationist beliefs. This, she acknowledges, is an actual problem.

The comment on the fossils refers to an argument by Young Earth creationists about the discovery of fossilized sea creatures at high altitudes. While mainstream science sees this as evidence of geological processes taking far longer than six thousand years, these creationists say that sea life reached these locations during a worldwide flood that covered even the tops of mountains.

The story of this flood, colloquially called "the parable of Noah's Ark", is found in the Biblical book of Genesis, chapters six through nine. Most Bible scholars and empirical scientists believe the story of Noah's Ark and the flood is an exaggerated retelling of an actual flood that threatened large swathes of human life; but again, literalism is as literalism does. Though it is not stated in the Bible story, many sea creatures are presumed to have died at high altitudes when the waters lowered. This is the Young Earth creationist explanation for the fossils.

The last panel is a reference to the fact that a number of people vote based on their peception that the person they're voting for shares their religious views. and then that person goes on to make legislative or educational (if they were voted to a board of education) decisions based on said beliefs. There have been several instances in the U.S. of state boards of educations trying to or succeeding at including young-earth or other creationist theories in the state's science curriculum. This has caused a certain amount of distrust.

The title text makes a further, more playful jab, claiming that empericists not only have the upper hand in reasoning, but also in sexiness. This subverts the once-commonly held idea that smarts and attractiveness are not always contained in the same "package", the stereotypical scientist being boring and dull. It also adds a tinge of irony, as no competent reasoner would make an argument from sexiness.


[Megan and a professor stand together, with another figure in the distance.]
Megan: Professor, that man claims the earth is 6,000 years old!
Professor: So? Just use your head and don't concern yourself overmuch with what other people think.
Megan: But he says the fossils in the mountains were put there in a flood!
Professor: Well, evidence suggests that they were not.
Megan: But he--
[A mountain landscape.]
Professor: A million people can call the mountains a fiction, yet it need not trouble you as you stand atop them.
[Megan and professor again.]
Megan: But he believes the silliest things!
Professor: So?
Professor: The universe doesn't care what you believe. The wonderful thing about science is that it doesn't ask for your faith, it just asks for your eyes.
Megan: But he's a US senator!
Professor: Ah, then yes, we do have a bit of a situation.

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Doesn't the girl have too long hair to be Megan? The official transcript just calls them 'girl' and 'professor'. –St.nerol (talk) 17:43, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Actually she looks more like Danish to me. -- BruceJohnJennerLawso (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
They're just generic humans, stop trying to say "her hair is wrong for [character]". It's really dumb. -Pennpenn 04:27, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
The girls is definately not Danish. Danish has some special personality traits (being mean and clever and not caring a thing about other). The hair is just a small thing. Also children are neither Megan nor Cueball as these are adults. I have removed reference to Danish. Actually it is the professor that looks like Megan! --Kynde (talk) 11:01, 28 December 2015 (UTC)
Randall definitely uses a specific cast of characters, each of which repeat characteristic behaviors & are recognizable primarily by consistent depiction of individual hairstyles. I encourage everyone to continue attempting to identify & thereby more fully understand each character, based upon their relative hairstyles & attitudes. (... "~ how are they connected? Hairstyles & attitudes, how do they relate? How well do we use our freedom to choose, the illusions we create?" - Timbuk 3) 18:39, 27 May 2016 (UTC)

Actually, my question is whether the girl on the left is Science Girl. Hdjensofjfnen (talk) 19:53, 25 September 2018 (UTC)

Almost has to be Science Girl, or a prototype of her at least. Nitpicking (talk) 19:58, 17 August 2021 (UTC)

What needs to be pointed out more is that science is a system of working toward finding the truth, that requires its adherents to remember that they never actually know for certain. A lot of modern "scientists" follow the same bad methodology as adherents of the geocentric model and astrology once did. Cosmology and quantum mechanics are full of epicycles, deferents, positivism, and static projection. Einstein and Schrodinger were correct to be horrified by that. —Kazvorpal (talk) 14:31, 29 September 2019 (UTC)