1687: World War III+
|World War III+|
Title text: I hate how the media only ever uses the first part of this quote, stripping it of its important context.
This comic takes a famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein, and expands upon it to absurd levels. The original quote is: "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 would be so devastating to the world that all humanity's progress would be wiped out and we would return to the technological level of the Stone Age.
The original quote is meant to be taken with a poetic license, with "sticks and stones" taken as a metaphor. Any literal interpretation reveals the quote to be faulty - a world war implies battles occurring through the world, on multiple continents, as part of a single war. Such a war can only occur in the presence of advanced communication networks, and advanced political/diplomatic structures; both of which would also imply weaponry far more sophisticated than sticks and stones. This comic pokes further fun at the literal interpretation of the quote, by appending to it other "literal statements" of a similarly ridiculous nature.
This comic expands the original quote letting Einstein suggest what other weapons future World Wars will be fought with:
- V: Crossbows. Crossbows are type of bow that is easier to use than a regular longbow, but is much more difficult to load. Most often used in medieval era.
- When loaded with metal tip darts and cocked with a winch crossbows have a potentially higher penetrating power than a regular longbow. Fired from short range, these darts could pierce a knight's armor.
- It's also notable that the crossbow was the only weapon to be banned by the Vatican, due to the comparative lack of skill required to operate.
- 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. Once again, the world has been devastated, and returned to a simpler technology.
- 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. It could also be a reference to HG Wells's The Time Machine where the Morlocks are the master race of the future living in underground caves. Also the fact that he did not know which weapons were used in III makes it weird that he knows the same weapons will be used again later. He may be referencing the famous quote by George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In which case, he is implying that by this time III is forgotten.
- XIII is completely unmentioned. This could be an error, but it makes some sense, considering that 13 is a number considered unlucky in many Western cultures and is sometimes skipped. For example, many tall buildings don't have a floor numbered 13, skipping straight from 12 to 14.
- 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.
In the title text Randall feigns annoyance about how the media only use the first part of the quote, thus taking it out of context. He implies that this is actually a full quote by Einstein and that all other occurrences using only the "original" version of this quote are misrepresenting it. In this particular case it is a much stronger quote than the long version from the comic, but it is often the case that quotes taken out of context seem to have an entirely different meaning than originally intended.
Incidentally, if you investigate the original context of the actual quotation, it turns out that Einstein may not have even said it in this exact form, and may in any case have got the idea from someone else. See the dicussion at Wikiquote.
- [A quote with white text on black background:]
"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!"
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