Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: Well, we've really only settled the question of ghosts that emit or reflect visible light. Or move objects around. Or make any kind of sound. But that covers all the ones that appear in Ghostbusters, so I think we're good.
Displayed is a timeline chart showing the percentage of people in the United States who have a camera at every moment. Randall refers to the fact that today most people carry embedded camera devices using their cell phones or the even more modern smartphones.
The chart shows that after the 1980s the percentage increases rapidly, almost reaching 100% by 2013. The text below the image states that "We have conclusively settled the questions of flying saucers, lake monsters [such as the Loch Ness Monster], ghosts, and Bigfoot", implying that because almost everyone carries a camera the evidence should have arisen by now to settle any question about such phenomena. Of course, such evidence has not arisen — but that doesn't stop many people from continuing to believe the myths. But at least now it is hard to claim that you saw something, but didn't have a camera to capture it with. If something moved by so fast that you did not have time to take a picture, then it could also be questioned if you have time to see that it was a ghost etc.
The title text declares that, in the case of ghosts, only the questions regarding phenomena that can be captured with a camera have been settled - leaving, in other words, ghosts that can't be seen, heard, or felt and essentially indistinguishable from an absence of ghosts. The title text also makes a joke about the ghosts of Ghostbusters, a popular film that featured highly visible and noisy ghosts which left a slime. If such ghosts existed, recording them would be very easy.
- [A graph with percentage from 0 to 100 on the Y-axis with three ticks with labels, top, middle and bottom. The X-axis is a timeline with years with labeled ticks at every five years interval from 1980 but also including a final tick at the year of release, 2013, which is written in a smaller font. The graph shown a red line that starts before 1980 at just above 0% and stays there through the 80s, rises a little past 1990 and reached 1-2% at around 2000, but then it rises rapidly to 10% at 2005, 75% at 2010, and around 90% at 2013, where the rise begins to flatten out asymptotically towards 100 %. There is a caption for what the Y-axis represents over the flat part of the curve:]
- Percentage of the US population carrying cameras everywhere they go, every waking moment of their lives:
- Y-axis labels:
- X-axis labels: 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2013
- [Caption below the panel:]
- In the last few years, with very little fanfare, we've conclusively settled the questions of flying saucers, lake monsters, ghosts, and Bigfoot.
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I wouldn't be so sure, considering for example the number of times Loch Ness Monster was photographed. Note the case of 2004. On the other hand ... yes, it is going to be harder disprove some sighting if there is 20 videos from it instead of 30 eye witnesses. The secret services probably don't exactly like it - much harder to cover it too. Especially if 5 of those are on youtube before they get there. -- Hkmaly (talk) 08:20, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
- Assuming within a given timespan a factor of lets say 10000 "ready to use" cameras being around at a given place, we would expect an equal factor of photos. So the only thing speaking agains this is that maybe at the places in question, there are not more people around, but a factor of 10000 less. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Probably everyone's got their nose burried in their smart-phone, Twittering about what they think of the Haggis they had last night, instead of taking in the view. Thus nobody takes any photos at all... 188.8.131.52 14:15, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Unless your phone is equipped with a PPC (protected phenomenon chip), which almost all phones are required to carry by the CIA. Every time someone takes a picture of one of the protected phenomenon the chip recognizes the image and replaces it with a kitten. Why else do you think there are so many pictures of kittens on the internet? --Shine (talk) 14:31, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
- PPC is not needed nor is any phenomenon disproved thanks to the development of image editing software like gimp and photoshop. If I were to post authentic photographic proof that Big Foot shot Kennedy, most people wouldn't take it seriously. In fact, according to rule 34, now that I've mentioned it, there must be porn of it. The kittens are just more entertaining. Oh god, now it will have kittens in it. db (talk) 15:15, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Overlay this graph with the that of access to the tools and knowledge required to make highly convincing hoaxes (probably a few % by now, and rising rapidly) and you have the very quick period of time in which photographic evidence was convincing. Video is slightly more convincing, but I think even the window for convincing video is coming to a close. There was basically about a decade or so in which a considerable number of people could instantly make proof of a paranormal event if one were to occur. Anything older was too old for a sufficient number of decent-quality cameras to exist, and anything newer could've been made in Photoshop by a normal person. Seeing as camera hardware and optics are fundamentally more difficult things to improve on than image-editing and video-editing software, we may come to a point in the near future where no commonly available camera hardware can produce evidence that couldn't just as easily be a hoax. 184.108.40.206 23:55, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
- What happens then if an image is from an actual event like an earth quake or an actual happening which could be believed, then something strange happens, like a picture which is plausable, but it is from another incident / happening / situaton.
I remember a polar bear on an ice floe some years ago. The image / picture was valid, not an hoax, but the context used was not true. The polar bear was filmed and climbed on the ice to use it as a raft (the bear was lazy). The hoax context was to show the Arctic is declinig. Also true but the mix of the facts led to misuse of information and creating discussions not needed for the case. The point is, any picture which could be an evidence, could also be misused leading to distrust and by that no picture or videos can be true/trusted. Not all pictuers can be investigated by an expert, and not every expert can be trusted. There is a ring going on here. The only solution I can think of, is to be critical to information and hoping you do not miss the true facts floating around however strange the are. There are definately gosts around in the world, since there are human beeings with imaginations. Even if one are not told or believe there is a gost somewhere, some people see it / feel it, others don't. Does this mean it exists or not, or does this mean it exists and not everyone can see it. Or does this mean it exists, some see it and others not because the gost wants it like this. No matter what answer comes up here, it will be wrong. A picture cannot prove it and therefor it does not exist... But then again something might happen proving to others it does exist. Something cannot be two things at the exact same time. Well it can, ... the cat, the space cat, Schroedinger's, it is dead and alive at the same time, since we do not know it. If it is dead, and we believe it is alive, is it then a goast or just not dead, or is it so far away that it has been dead for a long time, or did it never exist. Again, no mattter what evidence is here, it can be proven differntly or at least discussed differently. 220.127.116.11 23:42, 12 May 2015 (UTC)