Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: And it says a lot about you that when your friends jump off a bridge en masse, your first thought is apparently 'my friends are all foolish and I won't be like them' and not 'are my friends ok?'.
"If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?" This is a common question, used to challenge a decision based on the bandwagon effect. It challenges someone to consider whether something is really a good idea, even if everyone else does it (in this case, friends). The sentence is, upon closer analysis, a straw man attack that over-extrapolates the bandwagon effect.
Cueball responds by assuming that if all of his friends jumped off a bridge, there must have been some extreme circumstance that made it logical to do so; for example, that the bridge is on fire. This points out a logical fallacy with the question: if they really are jumping off a bridge, they're probably motivated by something serious as opposed to an idiotic risk. So the humor of this comic is in all the different ways the question can be turned on its head, and made to mean something the unseen speaker probably never intended.
The title text suggests that, even if there is nothing wrong with the bridge, the person asking the question is not acting right. The proper reaction would be concern about the mental (or physical, they could be injured) state of the people jumping off for no valid reason, and not just brushing them off as unworthy of attention. This is so especially when these people are described as "all my friends", so they have presumably always behaved correctly until they decided to jump off the bridge.
- [A youthful Cueball talking to an unseen parent.]
- Parent: No, you can't go.
- Cueball: But all my friends—
- Parent: If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?
- Cueball: Oh, jeez. Probably.
- Parent: What!? Why!?
- Cueball: Because all my friends did.
- Cueball: Think about it — which scenario is more likely:
- Cueball: Every single person I know, many of them levelheaded and afraid of heights, abruptly went crazy at exactly the same time...
- Cueball: ...or the bridge is on fire?
- Parent: ...I, uh...hmm.
- Cueball: Imagine reading this on CNN: "Many fled their vehicles and jumped from the bridge. Those who stayed behind..."
- Cueball: Is something good about to happen to those people?
- Parent: Maybe they'll find cookies?
- Cueball: OK, you stay. I'm jumping.
add a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!
I am definitely going to do this to someone!
Ahhh it's been a while since the last classic. This one is instant.
Note that the Cueball's argument doesn't really defeat the idea behind the phrase. Jumping off the bridge JUST because your friends did is still bad idea. What you should do is analyse situation. In best case, FIND the logical reason why your friends jumped, although it's true that spending too much time analysing can be dangerous. Also, look WHERE are your friends jumping too and if they landed alive. In many catastrophic scenarios, panic can kill more people that the catastrophe. That said, statistically speaking, if all your friends jumped off the bridge, there probably IS reason why they did it and you WILL probably do the same - not because they jumped, but for the same reason they jumped. -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:01, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
- But cueball didn't go for reasonably check why they jumped before making the decision. From what I understood, his argument, even if not the best idea, is to trust the friends judgement and jump too. Jump first, ask questions later. 220.127.116.11 18:11, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
In Hong Kong, Moms use "jump off the building" instead of bridge. (Too many skyscrapers, tall apartments right here, only really rich people live in houses). Ok, next time I will argue with her with this when I am going to do something stupid LOL 18.104.22.168 09:08, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
I probably one of the people who will not jump right away, at least think and looking around first. Yes it need some time and may cost me, but that's me. Arifsaha (talk) 21:37, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Cueball's argument assumes that each of his friends made independent decisions to jump off a bridge. However, if his other friends were reasoning in a similar fashion to Cueball, they may have come to the conclusion that the bridge was on fire after only a single person jumped. This herd behaviour is exactly what the adage is to remind one of. --22.214.171.124 21:56, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
I always was of the opinion that if all my friends DID jump off a bridge, I would probably jump off too, because I'd be far too depressed at the thought of all my friends being dead. Can you imagine living with that trauma? And who exactly is going to console you through it? All the likely candidates are dead! - KeithTyler (talk) 21:58, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, did a comic similar to this one in 1999: Young Dilbert --126.96.36.199 01:10, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
I think the point is that if you choose your friends wisely you can trust their logic. If they ALL jumped, ther must be a reason, unless you hang out with morons.
- Or they have been all influenced by some gas or radiation, so cannot reason logically. :-) Arifsaha (talk) 17:16, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
- Or, you know, blood control or something. Except I'm the A positive...maybe they'd have the sense not to let me jump. --Prairie
I can't help but notice: We've all heard this, right? So basically, a lot of persons repeat saying that after having heard another say it. Should it make them question their logic? Not really. Saying this adage is kind of a fine example where doing something just because so many others did it, is rather stupid.
I wonder what Cueball and his friends were going to do? On the face of it, it didn't appear to be anything all that dangerous. His mother, if she was using this argument out of reflex, probably just got her comeuppance for applying it in an inappropriate context. Poor mom. She probably already has too much on her hands, working for a living and raising a very intelligent kid, and now she has the extra chore of checking her metaphors carefully before use. This should push her right to that old favorite, "Because!"188.8.131.52 20:42, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
So Mom, got her comeuppance? Isn't this exactly what she wanted her son to do, examine what was going on and make a logical decision based on it... the fact that he said "their must be a reason", means she failed of course and must retrain him. So now she just has to say..."Ok, you can go as long as you can demonstrate to me the value of you attending (said function) and those that will be denied to you by not attending and doing something more socially responsible!18:24, 11 February 2013 (UTC) MI Ranger 11 Feb 2013
I want to do this! Except that it requires having friends...
Wait... All my friends are doing it is still a valid argument, since any expression of the form 'All X are Y' is always true whenever X (my friends) is an empty set! (vacuously true)184.108.40.206 21:57, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Much simpler... Up until the parent asks about bridge jumping, everything is the same: then cueball says "yeah. We're going bungee jumping." 220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
If I ever have children, and the situation comes where I'll have to say "If all your friends...", I'll say it and see how they answer.
- If they give up on doing what they were going to do, I'll tell them they're wrong and then expose the idea of this comic.
- If, instead, they respond with the idea of this comic, then I raised them well.
18.104.22.168 01:37, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Wait a second.... If the bridge is on fire, then you're probably a wolf. So your friends would jump off WITHOUT the bridge being on fire, simply because they see a wolf.
22.214.171.124 20:29, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
According to my mom, I was such a smartass as a kid that she knew not to say this to me... But when she tried it on my sister, I butted in with, "that's probably the best time every to jump, with all those friends to cushion her fall". 126.96.36.199 02:02, 19 September 2015 (UTC)