507: Experimentation

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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I understand large sample sizes are key to a low standard error of the mean, but the entire sophomore class?
Title text: I understand large sample sizes are key to a low standard error of the mean, but the entire sophomore class?


College (undergraduate university, for international readers) is often a young adult's first experience with independent living. As a result, it is a time to "find yourself," so the aphorism goes. This often includes a certain amount of sexual experimentation, including same-sex experimentation.

This comic applies a scientific interpretation to a colloquial expression (a favorite on xkcd). Usually, "lesbian experimentation" refers to a woman engaging in one-night stands with other women to satisfy her curiosity about the experience and discover her own sexual orientation. Megan, however, does the "experimenting" according to the scientific method: hypothesize, experiment, draw conclusions, repeat. She formulates a hypothesis about her sexual orientation (apparently something along the lines of "I am a lesbian"), which she proceeds to test by experiments (sexual encounters) with female partners as the experimental group and male partners as the control group. She used large sample groups and multiple experiments (the reference to "control group B" implies at least two separate experiments). The title text implies that Megan "experimented" with the entire sophomore class (both males and females) before dating Cueball.


[Cueball and Megan are holding hands, and Megan is pointing off to the side.]
Megan: Oh, hey, it's twelve of the dudes from control group B!
[Caption below the panel]:
I'm cool with her past lesbian experimentation, but I wish she hadn't insisted the experiments be scientifically rigorous.

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A proper sample for Megan is at least three (or four) groups: definite lesbians; other curious girls; hetero males; possibly a randomised group (trans, bi, intersex, fetishes and kinks: depending on source) and an ordinary mixed-sex control, all of which could include the entirety of her year level. The other students might have felt uncomfortable with her empirically recording the data, though (filming and surveys). ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I like the implication that perhaps years after college, her test groups still hang out together. If well chosen, the "dudes from control group B" would have nothing in common except Megan, but this has been enough of a bonding experience. 08:08, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Or the groups were large enough or the college tight-knit that 12 of the people were still likely to be friends. 04:58, 12 March 2023 (UTC)