468: Fetishes

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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They eventually resolved this self-reference, but Cantor's 'everything-in-the-fetish-book-twice' parties finally sunk the idea.
Title text: They eventually resolved this self-reference, but Cantor's 'everything-in-the-fetish-book-twice' parties finally sunk the idea.


Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead co-wrote the Principia Mathematica, with the intention of cataloging all of mathematics and ridding it of contradiction and self-reference. Kurt Gödel later showed that such a system is impossible, and that any system of axioms (complex enough to represent arithmetic) is incomplete.

Here, Russell and Whitehead are perusing a more salacious, but no less comprehensive, task: compiling a list of all sexual fetishes. When Gödel says he likes "anything not on your list," Russel and Whitehead have no way to complete their list. Whatever they leave off should be on the list, as long as it's off the list. This paradox is essentially the same as the one that doomed the Principia.

In the title text, Georg Cantor is the inventor of set theory. If you have a fetish for doing everything in the book twice, then that belongs in the book, which you then have to do once more, which adds another item to the book ad infinitum. Russel and Whitehead finally acknowledge their defeat.

There is a fetish roadmap (archive.org) by Katharine Gates, author of Deviant Desires and DeviantDesires.com.

An earlier comic also refers to Kurt Gödel: 24: Godel, Escher, Kurt Halsey.


[Caption above the panel:]
Author Katharine Gates recently attempted to make a chart of all sexual fetishes.
Little did she know that Russel and Whitehead had already failed at this same task.
[Russel, with long hair, and Whitehead are standing with Gödel (the last two are both Cueball-like), Russel holding a clipboard and smoking a pipe.
Gödel is holding his chin with his right hand as he ponders the question.]
Russel: Hey, Gödel — we're compiling a comprehensive list of fetishes. What turns you on?
Gödel: Anything not on your list.
Russel: Uh…hm.

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I should point out that [1] is "The set of all sets that do not contain themselves"- if it does not contain itself, then it must contain itself; but since it now contains itself, it cannot. Although this doesn't seem to have an obvious parallel in the comic, Russell probably should've known better than to create a comprehensive list of anything. --Someone Else 37 (talk) 04:17, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

And factoids are false even if they don't contain 7. If they weren't false they would be facts.Factoids are falsehoods that look almost like facts, just as the humanoid Mr. Spock is not human, but almost lookalike one. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The real solution here is to take into account that Godel is clearly lying. There's no way he's turned on by literally anything not on the list. 01:01, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

Wow. You've just solved the Incompleteness Theorem by simply calling Gödel a liar. Why didn't Bertram Russell think of that for his Principia Mathematica? But, have you taken Rule 34 into account? 12:44, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

By typing "doing anything at any amount": both paradoxes would be solved. "Anything not on your list" would simply be "nothing", and "at any amount" would cover "twice" 16:58, 11 May 2020 (UTC)