666: Silent Hammer

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Silent Hammer
'I bet he'll keep quiet for a couple weeks and then-- wait, did you nail a piece of scrap wood to my antique table a moment ago?'
Title text: 'I bet he'll keep quiet for a couple weeks and then-- wait, did you nail a piece of scrap wood to my antique table a moment ago?'


Black Hat has created a set of tools that work in complete silence so that he can go to the house of the chairman of the American Skeptics Society late at night, do some rearranging of walls and moving of windows, just to screw with him in typical Black Hat fashion. Imagine how surprised the person must be when they wake up and discover their whole house has been rearranged! A skeptic is someone who questions knowledge, facts and beliefs, especially of supernatural phenomena like the existence of poltergeists which Black Hat is trying to imitate with his rearranging and scratching noises.

The American Skeptics Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting skeptical and critical thinking in education and public discourse. The executive director and chief editor of the Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer, is a leading proponent of skepticism, and has written many books and articles debunking pseudoscience, fringe science, quack medicine, alien abductions, conspiracy theories and supernatural phenomena. The Skeptic Society website and Skeptic magazine feature a lot of material debunking anecdotal accounts of these phenomena, explaining how events like "hauntings" could have occurred without supernatural intervention.

One of the premises of modern skepticism is that the supernatural is not rejected out of hand; if someone came up with a proper scientific hypothesis that predicted something supernatural and that hypothesis was proven beyond reasonable doubt, a skeptic would accept that the supernatural thing in question was probably correct.

In the title text Cueball realizes that Black Hat has (probably intentionally) ruined his antique table by demonstrating his silent hammer on it in the first panel.

Black Hat's tools are seen in two boxes labeled "Drills" and "Non-Drills", likely a reference to the phrase "this is not a drill", used to differentiate an emergency situation from a practice of procedure for such.

Note that this comic is numbered 666 (number), the number of the beast in Christian theology, which is often associated with the evil and supernatural.


[Black Hat is hammering something on a table.]
Cueball: What—
Black Hat: Silent hammer. I've made a set of silent tools.
Cueball: Why?
Hammer: woosh woosh woosh
Black Hat: Stealth carpentry. Breaking into a house at night and moving windows, adjusting walls, etc.
[He takes his silent hammer over to a tool bench with other things on it. Two boxes underneath are labeled "Drills" and "Non-Drills."]
Black Hat, narrating: After a week or so of questioning his own sanity, the owner will stay up to watch the house at night. I'll make scratching noises in the walls, pipe in knockout gas, move him up to his bed, and never bother him again.
[The events he's describing are shown in two mini-panels below.]
[Zoom in on Black Hat, with Cueball off-panel to the left.]
Cueball, off-panel: Nice prank, I guess, but what's the point?
Black Hat: Check out the owner's card, on the table.
Cueball, off-panel: Chair of the American Skeptics Society? Oh, god.
Black Hat: Yeah, this doesn't end well for him.


This comic, along with its title text, is used on TV Tropes as the image for Gaslighting.

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I took the comic to be less about a haunting and more about a "Did that really happen to me?" Especially when considering that Black Hat never bothers him again. 08:16, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Quite so. People who manage to pass the course for most sciences tend to become sceptical. I think that this is to allow them to worship the beast more readily than the uneducated would. -- Weatherlawyer (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The comic number is 666… Is this intentional, given the creepy premise of the comic?

I would think so; after all, Hat guy is metaphorically the devil of this comic. --Fallencrow305 (talk) 21:56, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
I'm amused to note that the HTML for the horizontal ellipses, which you included in your comment, is "…" -- Hell IP? BunsenH (talk) 16:06, 15 July 2022 (UTC)

I disagree with the Title Text explanation. My guess is that Black Hat was still talking, but Cueball was just being Cueball by absentmindedly trying out the silent hammer with the first piece of wood he found. Cody Hackins (talk) 03:54, 12 October 2016 (UTC)

I doubt it, the first comic shows black hat doing the act. I do think that Cueball could show black hat a use for those drills though.

I don't understand the "this doesn't end well for him" part. Nothing that bad really happened to the guy. 15:20, 10 May 2021 (UTC)

His entire worldview was turned upside down. You don't think that's bad? -- The Cat Lady (talk) 10:29, 18 August 2021 (UTC)
Also, by never doing this again, Black Hat prevents the Chairman from ever being able to show evidence of it happening in the first place. He ends up as a despised crank, insisting on something that is highly implausible. (Or not, because in fact you could find evidence of walls being moved, etc. But this is a comic.) Nitpicking (talk) 10:25, 1 September 2021 (UTC)

An edit to this page caused to to read it again. Noted skeptic Carrie Poppy became convinced her house was haunted, in reality. It turned out to be ... carbon monoxide poisoning. Here's her TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/carrie_poppy_a_scientific_approach_to_the_paranormal Nitpicking (talk) 00:40, 18 December 2022 (UTC)