Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
The comic shows a chart between the number of members of the pagan religion Wicca and the number of times Firefox web browser was downloaded, the implication being that Firefox usage causes membership in Wicca or vice versa. In juxtaposing these almost certainly unrelated phenomena, Randall highlights the common issue of illusory correlation, "the phenomenon of perceiving a relationship between variables (typically people, events, or behaviors) even when no such relationship exists."
Randall further illustrates one common and perhaps destructive use of illusory correlation in the bottom half of the image. The appearance of the symbol for Internet Explorer, a rival web browser, and the cross, representing Christianity, on the bottom, imply that this graph is an attack ad promoted by Microsoft and Christianity to gain an advantage over their competitors.
The title text is reminiscent of political commercials, which tell you who paid for them, generally said very fast, hence why all the words are strung together. The last sentence is a play on the term of Closed source software, which Internet Explorer is, as opposed to Firefox, which is open source in development. Similar in that vein, the Bible can be considered "closed source" due to God's prohibition on altering its contents.
This type of statistical ploy is used again in a few other comics, like 523: Decline, 552: Correlation, and 925: Cell Phones.
add a comment! ⋅ refresh comments!
- [Y axis]: Membership in Wicca
- [X axis]: Total Firefox Downloads
- [Positive slope graph.]
- [Internet Explorer icon.]
- Keep the Faith
- [Outline of a cross.]
Correlation does not equal causation.... I think that's one of the underlying points of this. That, and people who use IE don't understand that. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
The link to Revelation 22 is misleading. It was written several centuries before the Bible was compiled, and the phrase "this book" presumably refers to the Book of Revelation. A better scripture to link to is [Deuteronomy 4:2], which prohibits editing the words that god commands you. That's not the entire bible, but it's enough that you could realistically call it closed source. 126.96.36.199 00:23, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
The use of the open-source closed-source terminology is flawed here: open-source simply means that the source code (the program for IE and words for the Bible) is available to be read.
It does NOT mean that you can edit it (even if you don't distribute it) as anybody who owns a TiVo or has tried reading a Terms of Service document knows; that 'right' would come under the more important "Free Software" umbrella, as this article by Richard Stallman explains.
YatharthROCK (talk) 06:03, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
- Open source does mean you can edit it. See the Open Source Definintion: "The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software." 188.8.131.52 02:48, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
- Wouldn't that be opensource.org's definition? 184.108.40.206 22:50, 21 November 2014 (UTC) Steven
It looks like Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's statistics on the relation between pirate's numbers and global temperature
) 12:50, 3 September 2014 (UTC)