592: Drama

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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This happens in geek circles every so often. The "Hey, this is just a system I can figure out easily!" is also a problem among engineers first diving into the stock market.
Title text: This happens in geek circles every so often. The "Hey, this is just a system I can figure out easily!" is also a problem among engineers first diving into the stock market.


Megan and two Cueball-like guys discuss how irrational society's interactions about sex are. They decide to throw out all these silly societal rules to end drama forever and spread this philosophy to everyone they know, which immediately leads to a huge increase in drama as shown in the chart.

As one of the Cueballs in the comic states, people are indeed complicated and—crucially—what seems intuitive and rational to one person might seem completely irrational to someone else; so throwing out all the rules one person thinks make no sense isn't going to mean the world suddenly makes sense for everyone else. Instead, everyone who understands the old rules, whether they like them or not, will suddenly find themselves in a completely alien world to which they have no idea how to relate.

Furthermore, any one person's sense of what seems rational is based on incomplete information. The three people are trying to change all the sex rules—like the engineers referenced in the title text who think they can "solve" the stock market—can't even begin to conceive of all the chaotic factors affecting the system they're trying to fix, so they have no way of knowing which rules are truly rational and which aren't.

Geeks often fall prey to the fallacy that human interactions can be easily simplified if only a group of sufficiently qualified geeks put their minds to it as laid out in The Geek Social Fallacies and The Geek Social Fallacies of Sex.

Social rules that are adopted partly to avoid drama include laws surrounding marriage and alimony. These rules differ a large amount, but not incomparably, across different cultures. The study of them is a major concern in social science, and it is not unheard of to conjecture new ones, for example the work of the evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleischmann.

The situation in the title text, with a bunch of engineers diving into the stock market, is also mentioned in 1570: Engineer Syllogism.


[Megan and two Cueball like guys are sitting together.]
Megan: Man, sex has all these crazy social rules. They just create drama.
Cueball: Let's agree to change them, and make sex simple!
Friend: Okay!
[Cueball gets up and goes out the door.]
Cueball: Hooray! We've solved the problem of drama!
Cueball: I'll go tell everyone!
[There is a graph labeled drama. Below is an axis and below that an arrow marked with time. A vertical dotted line is labeled and indicates the rule change. Drama is low, although fluctuating, before the rule change, then sharply increases afterward and continues to increase.]
Rule change
[Cueball closes the door and then leans against it.]
Cueball: Holy shit
Cueball: Guys
Cueball: People are complicated!

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All rules changes ever anywhere will cause drama. This is inevitable. -Pennpenn 03:11, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

Is it bad that my first thought on reading the comic was to assume that the moment Cueball1 left the room was the moment Cueball2 and Megan started having sex, and they didn't stop until he got back?