718: The Flake Equation

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The Flake Equation
Statistics suggest that there should be tons of alien encounter stories, and in practice there are tons of alien encounter stories. This is known as Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox.
Title text: Statistics suggest that there should be tons of alien encounter stories, and in practice there are tons of alien encounter stories. This is known as Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox.

[edit] Explanation

The Flake equation is a parody of the Drake equation, which estimates the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy.

The title text refers to Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox as a parody of the Fermi paradox: The contradiction between the high estimated probable existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of establishing contact to such civilizations by humans.

Another comic parodying this equation is 384: The Drake Equation. The credibility of paranormal reports in general is revisited in 1235: Settled, which posits that if such phenomena were real they should have been unambiguously captured on camera by now.

[edit] Transcript

The Flake Equation:
P = WP × (CR + MI) × TK × F0 × F1 × DT × AU ≈ 100,000
Where:
WP = World Population (7,000,000,000)
CR = Fraction of people who imagine an alien encounter because they're crazy or want to feel special (1/10,000)
MI = Fraction of people who misinterpret a physical or physiological experience as an alien sighting (1/10,000)
TK = Probability that they'll tell someone (1/10)
F0 = Average number of people they tell (10)
F1 = Average number of people each friend tells this "firsthand" account (10)
DT = Probability that any details not fitting the narrative will be revised or forgotten in retelling (9/10)
AU = Fraction of people with the means and motivation to share the story with a wider audience (blogs, forums, reporters) (1/100)
Even with conservative guesses for the values of the variables, this suggests there must be a huge number of credible-sounding alien sightings out there, available to anyone who wants to believe!
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Discussion

There was a later comic about our capabilities' precluding of UFO sightings and such. I may find it at some point. --Quicksilver (talk) 02:51, 20 August 2013 (UTC)


Settled

googlesearch=site:explainxkcd.com ufo

http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1235:_Settled

Kevin McCready (talk) 13:25, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
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