Today's xkcd is relevant to our interests

by mindspillage1 min read5th Jan 201129 comments

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A direct link, for those rare folk who don't enjoy the comic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_misconceptions

I am unhappy about this comic because I found that article some time ago, and now everyone knows about it and will think I got it from xkcd if I mention it.

I am meta-unhappy because being unhappy about that makes me feel like a hipster.

So who wants to add God to the list of common misconceptions?

Long-time pet peeve of mine: one of them doesn't belong on the list:

Shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker or coarser or darker. This belief is due to the fact that hair that has never been cut has a tapered end, whereas, after cutting, there is no taper. Thus, it appears thicker, and feels coarser due to the sharper, unworn edges. The fact that shorter hairs are "harder" (less flexible) than longer hairs also contributes to this effect. Hair can also appear darker after it grows back because hair that has never been cut is often lighter due to sun exposure.

In other words, this is wrong, you are an idiot for believing this, but you should act as if it were true for all practical purposes, as there are no observable distinctions between your misconception and reality. So, if you don't want to have to keep shaving back seemingly-denser hair, don't shave off the hair.

I've observed the very evidence (in my face and body hair) that causes people to have this "misconception". Whatever hair I shaved off came back exactly as the "misconception" warns (thicker, darker, fuller, uglier looking than if I left it alone). I'm not sure what I gain from being informed that this is a misconception.

I think the point was that you might have some temporary effects but no permanent effects.

Then that would be wrong, as I have to permanently, regularly shave my face to maintain the same facial-hair-visibility that I had from the lifetime of growth before the first shave. (And over long enough periods, a once-shaven person will appear to have more and darker hair than the never-shaved version of that person.)

I have to permanently, regularly shave my face to maintain the same facial-hair-visibility that I had from the lifetime of growth before the first shave.

That sounds more like the result of puberty than the result of shaving, but I guess that's not what you mean.

I had been developing facial hair for a long time before I learned to shave. (I had outpaced my peers in the "noticeable 'stache" department.) However, it was very thin, light, and wispy.

Today, it would take me a few days to grow a mustache that's darker, thicker, and a more dominant facial feature than the one I had developed in the year or two between puberty onset and first shaving. Had I never started shaving (and maybe just regularly trimmed), this upkeep would not be necessary, yet by reading the "misconceptions" list, I would have unwisely dismissed this possibility.

Also [rot13 for moderate squick] gur cngpurf bs yrt, purfg, naq nez unve jurer V unir cerivbhfyl funirq vg bss ner abj guvpxre, qnexre, naq shyyre guna gur fheebhaqvat nern, juvpu pna'g or nppbhagrq sbe ol choregl.

Exercise physiology could take up half the page. One of my pet peeve misconceptions is 'a pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day' (closer to 6, and fat burns 2).

I recently had to extract a myth from my head that olive oil was bad for cooking because of poor tolerance to heat. It's actually substantially more robust in that regard than butter or margarine and refined olive oil is pretty close to the well regarded peanut.

spend the rest of your lives being a little less wrong.

Wow. Does Randall lurk among us? Will he read these very words?

I don't think he lurks among us; Relsqui, a commenter here, does, and she's acquainted with him, but when I asked she said she hadn't managed to get him onto the site. I suppose that could have changed since though...

list of cognitive biases and list of logical fallacies are orders of magnitude more important.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Yeah, as far as I can tell the only thing that distinguishes this xkcd strip from any other is the substring 6C 65 73 73 20 77 72 6F 6E 67. This kind of thing just looks desperate and sad, and I wish people would stop doing it.

Not funny. But I'm glad to learn of the wikipedia page.

Do you think that the sole purpose of web comics is or should be humor?

Er, no...

I'm trying to discern why one would make the comment "not funny" about a web comic. (I see this a lot, so it's not just you.) If the comic's purpose isn't necessarily humor, why would it matter if it's not funny?

In my experience xkcd usually goes for funny- while occasionally going for "awesome" or "heartbreaking". This comic isn't any of those things either.

Is there some feature you laud in web comics that this xkcd possesses?

I laud web comics that are entertaining in some way, which usually entails some emotional connection to the content. Don't you wish you lived in that universe? If a web comic hits some note that resonates with the reader in whatever way, I think it's done a good job.

Next week I'll be unveiling my new tautological web comic.

Seriously? The most annoying thing about tautologies is the most annoying thing about tautologies.

Also, you're too late.

Be sure to construct some tautologies complicated enough to be useful.

Presumably the desired feature is not so much "true" or "true and complicated", but "useful and non-obviously true".

[-][anonymous]11y 0

Obviously many webcomics have other-than-humorous intent, but I would like to point your attention to the word "comic" and its original meaning... maybe this is why there is a tendency to note that certain comics are not funny, even if we acknowledge that this is not their intended purpose.

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At this point, comics are a storytelling medium like novels, movies, or TV. Nobody notes that "certain movies" contain audible dialogue just because films were once silent.

[-][anonymous]11y 0

You are correct, but this is irrelevant to the point I was trying to make. The word "movie" is just short for "moving picture" and doesn't imply "silent" in any way, while the word "comic", with no other context, means "funny".

So yes, of course, comics are now storytelling media, but I'm suggesting that our brains are still primed towards comedy upon seeing the word. Just trying to explain why you might "see this a lot".

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(I previously had a different post in this thread, but I changed my mind and deleted it.)

[-][anonymous]11y 0

Pff, whatever. That's so traditional-rationality.