2161: An Apple a Day

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 18:47, 10 June 2019 by (talk) (Explanation: ce, wlink)
Jump to: navigation, search
An Apple a Day
Even the powerful, tart Granny Smith cultivar is proving ineffective against new Gran-negative doctors.
Title text: Even the powerful, tart Granny Smith cultivar is proving ineffective against new Gran-negative doctors.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by an APPLE-RESISTANT DOCTOR. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a common English proverb. It suggests that eating one apple daily will keep you healthy, and therefore, reduce your necessity to go to the doctor.

However, in this comic, this expression is reinterpreted to mean that the reason an apple a day keeps a doctor away is because apples literally prevent doctors from coming. It also suggests that keeping doctors away is of great importance, presumably because doctors in this scenario are threatening.

Next, when the comic says that some doctors are resistant to apples, this references situations where creatures can adapt to deal with threats. In this case, the comic advocates stockpiling apples to prepare a strategic assault on the doctors who adapted.

Additionally, this comic is a clear reference to the overuse of antibiotics in modern medicine, leading to an increase in antimicrobial resistance ("Superbugs"), which has seen increasing awareness in the last few years. The World Health Organization had the first Antibiotic Awareness Week in 2015, where a talk similar to the one in the comic would seem very appropriate.

In the title text this is taken further: Gran-negative is a pun on Gram-negative, a type of bacteria. A well-known technique called Gram staining distinguishes two types of bacteria (Gram positive versus Gram negative) on the basis of properties of their cell walls.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Megan stands at a podium.]
Megan: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Megan: Or at least, it used to.
[The comic zooms out on the stage. Megan is pointing at a poster promimently featuring Doctor Ponytail and three apples.]
Megan: Over time, some doctors have developed a resistance to apples. Keeping them away takes two or three apples instead of one.
Megan: And there are worrying signs that a few doctors have become completely immune.
[The comic zooms in again on Megan and her podium.]
Megan: So we must stockpile our finest apples in reserve, using them to fend off only the very worst doctors.
Megan: Honeycrisps still work on most of them, but we don't know for how long.

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


I get that I shouldn't, but after the first sentence in the second paragrsph, I really wanted to say: "For example, if an opponent controls a thief of sanity and you have a sharktocrab, you may adapt the sharktocrab to tap down the thief." (This is a Magic: The Gathering reference.) 18:05, 10 June 2019 (UTC)

The title text contains a subtle pun with Gran-negative, where the bacterial term is Gram-negative, but instead is referring to Granny-Smith apples - hence, gran-negative. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 18:06, 10 June 2019 (UTC)

And this is why I come to explainxkcd even when I think I have understood the comic! Thanks! 18:22, 10 June 2019 (UTC)

I felt parts of the explanation were worded a bit clunkily. I'm not strongly attached to my edit, so if others disagree, feel free to revert ;-) -- //gir.st/ (talk) 19:10, 10 June 2019 (U

I feel I must take issue with the statement in the explanation that Granny Smith Apples are 'sour' and agree with the title text that they are 'tart' or possibly 'sharp'. RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 21:21, 10 June 2019 (UTC)

I've found that one apple a day will keep the doctor away, providing you can throw it hard enough and accurately enough at him. RAGBRAIvet (talk) 01:41, 11 June 2019 (UTC). Or her...

Antibiotics weren't my first thought on reading this comic, but rather mosquitoes, which have an amazing tendency to overcome everything we throw at them. There was an article a day or two ago about introducing spider venom into fungus to try a new approach against them. I'm sure there are other examples that occur to others, as resistance increase is a common enough concept. Like many xkcd, it works on multiple levels. Daemonik (talk) 08:58, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

In looking for that, I found interesting item about how some mosquitos are insensitive to DEET (added to explanation). Thanks for the pointer. 19:58, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

We could put our apples on a messaging site that posts to an uncensorable blockchain like https://memo.sv/ so that everybody can reuse others on doctors that haven't seen them yet. What do you think? I was also thinking if a strong AI were developed, it could build new apples as needed. Maybe an AI could be made rapidly by having it learn to predict its own behavior from its code. But you wouldn't want it to accidentally take over the world, so it could have a primary task of being interviewed in an empathic way, answering for example, "are you happy with how fulfilled your need to nurture and empower life is?" Answering this question in depth might stimulate it to understand these concepts, and the response would give the interviewer lots of avenues to understand and verify it further. By the way, there's a 30-page booklet on a technique used to resolve wars rapidly here. 02:08, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

J Milstein (talk) 13:01, 11 June 2019 (UTC) Apples keeping doctors away seems analogous to garlic keeping vampires away J Milstein (talk) 13:01, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

If apples are to garlic as doctors are to vampires, comparing apples and oranges is like comparing doctors to whom?
Holistic Medicine Practitioners? Could be mistaken for similar but quite different? :) (Level of validity makes this comparison questionable, though...) NiceGuy1 (talk) 03:21, 15 June 2019 (UTC)
Also, if apples means stairs, what does garlic mean? Kventin (talk) 07:18, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

Think of the children! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAo5AQF2OVg 01:57, 13 June 2019 (UTC)