Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This parody of a road sign essentially reminds drivers of the reality of the situation they are now in and thereby implicitly refers to the dangers inherent to it. Because the ability to travel in a box on wheels at high speeds was not selected for in the evolution of human, if anything happens to said box on wheels, such as crashing into a wall, the humans inside may be badly injured, if not killed. If, however, they had evolved something like exoskeletons, for example, this may not have been the case. This reminder would presumably prompt drivers to drive more carefully or perhaps slow down.
Humans did not evolve to have the ability to withstand such forces because their ancestors commonly never traveled any faster than about 20 km/h (top human speed on foot). Some individuals may have moved faster than that by falling out of a tree or off a cliff but not nearly enough of them to make an impact on evolution. Fast vehicles, on the other hand, have only appeared in the last couple of hundred years, and it would take many more tens or hundreds of thousands of years before these new selection pressures made any noticeable difference to human physiology, if any.
The road sign is far too lengthy and philosophical to be used in practice but is conceivable as an advertisement for safe driving.
The phrase "next 5 miles" is common to road signs, particularly those on US highways in rural areas. It assumes that the driver who sees the sign will continue driving for another five miles.
The title text refers to the fact that the sign doesn't really know how many more miles the driver may travel, and that it may be more than five. Since the average American drives over 13,000 miles per year, this is indeed very likely.
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- An American Diamond warning sign with the following message on it.
- [You're in a box on wheels hurtling along several times faster than evolution could possibly have prepared you to go. Next 5 miles.]
And also that riding in a car is one of the most hazardous activities possible, and people don't realize this, the common view is that walking or riding in a plane is more dangerous when really being in a car is by several orders of magnitude. 18.104.22.168 20:51, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
This comic is actally a great justification for repealing all those annoying safety laws. --Qwach (talk) 05:43, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
I have reworded the explanation (which said evolution had not prepared us for the modern world 'yet'). That implies that we are part-way along an evolutionary process that will see us well suited to motor vehicle travel in the forseeable future, which is not the case and which I don't think was intended by the comic. The sort of evolutionary adaptations required to make us fairly well suited to motor vehicle travel (as opposed to being well suited to walking around all day picking berries and spearing things, as we are now) would take at least several million years, and I think it is extremely unlikely we will still be driving around on highways in cars by then. So there will never be a successor species to the human that is adapted to motor vehicle travel. The main problems with us and cars are (1) reaction time, (2) durability in high-speed impacts and (3) a metabolism that is not adapted to sitting on our backsides whenever we want to get anywhere. For the past 3.5 billion years, none of our ancestors ever had to respond to mishaps at any faster than about 20km/h (running flat out). While our common ancestor with the chimpanzees was probably much better at surviving falls from heights than we are, surviving a collision at highway speeds is not something any of our ancestors ever had to do (at least not often enough to be adapted to it - they weren't adapted to occasional falls from very high cliffs either). Fast vehicles have only appeared in the last couple of hundred years and I would expect it to be many tens or hundreds of thousands of years before these new selection pressures make any noticable (although even then quite inadequate) difference to human physiology. So a very long-winded comment I know, but I hope it will give some perspective. Tarkov (talk) 09:34, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
I do not think this comic is actually about cars (or other modes of transportation at all, really) but more about the great (and becoming greater still over time) divide between our biological evolution against our cultural, technological and governing ones and how we are not prepared to deal with this big mess that it creates in it's wake. Ragnarok700
22.214.171.124 22:26, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
To be hoenst I think we'd reach a point where motor transport is as safe as we can possibly make it, or completely redundant, long before we evolve to suit it.126.96.36.199
04:08, 30 January 2014 (UTC)