111: Firefox and Witchcraft - The Connection?

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Firefox and Witchcraft - The Connection?
ThisadpaidforbythecounciltopromoteMicrosoftandChristianity. Remember, The Bible is Closed Source.
Title text: ThisadpaidforbythecounciltopromoteMicrosoftandChristianity. Remember, The Bible is Closed Source.

[edit] Explanation

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.

[edit] Transcript

[Y axis]: Membership in Wicca
[X axis]: Total Firefox Downloads
[Positive slope graph.]
[Internet Explorer icon.]
Keep the Faith
[Outline of a cross.]

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


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. ‎ (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. 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." 02:48, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Wouldn't that be opensource.org's definition? 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[1].--Anodibdogb (talk) 12:50, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

The Microsoft + Christianity is probably a reference to Microsoft acquiring Christianity.

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?