0385: "How It Works"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
krynd
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:09 am UTC
Location: Basement Bedroom

0385: "How It Works"

Postby krynd » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:05 am UTC

Image
http://xkcd.com/385
Alt text: It's pi plus C, of course.

Unfortunately, I've seen this in real life...

EDIT: Sorry about that... (the missing link)
Last edited by krynd on Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:08 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Dangermouse wrote:I hope this doesn't mirror too much of what you've read--and btw, you should read less and do more. No one takes good pictures or runs a marathon sitting on their couch surfing the internet.


WCG xkcd team

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby 4=5 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:06 am UTC

good thing he isn't the president of a collage or anything.

User avatar
connorsname
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2007 7:59 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby connorsname » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:07 am UTC

ahh beat me to making one.

And yes they do suck at math. :D

User avatar
3.14159265...
Irrational (?)
Posts: 2413
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:05 am UTC
Location: Ajax, Canada

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby 3.14159265... » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:08 am UTC

Did he mean to do something along the lines of the Gaussian Distribution or did I miss something?
"The best times in life are the ones when you can genuinely add a "Bwa" to your "ha""- Chris Hastings

User avatar
william
Not a Raptor. Honest.
Posts: 2418
Joined: Sat Oct 14, 2006 5:02 pm UTC
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby william » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:09 am UTC

And yet almost all of the people in my school complaining about how hard AP Calculus is are girls. I know it's heretical but maybe boys are better at something.
SecondTalon wrote:A pile of shit can call itself a delicious pie, but that doesn't make it true.

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby 4=5 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:10 am UTC


Green532
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:08 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Green532 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:11 am UTC

Missing a "dx"? :P

User avatar
shorty
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 10:07 pm UTC
Location: T.O

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby shorty » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:14 am UTC

I've seen versions of this. In my high school, people didn't seem to understand that the best people at math were girls :/
Although in physics the boys took the lead. But still, come on. I hate it when people assume that because I'm a girl I'm stupid.

ShadowLurker
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:41 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby ShadowLurker » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:15 am UTC

It's x^3/3 right?

I do this all the time XD

User avatar
krynd
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:09 am UTC
Location: Basement Bedroom

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby krynd » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:16 am UTC

connorsname wrote:Ahh, beat me to making one

You weren't the only one. About 3 people made one right after I did
Spoiler:
(timestamp 00:06, though...)
. Had to be one of the biggest rushes to post I've seen in a while...

As far as the "seen it in real life" I mentioned earlier, her name's Lorraine and is partly responsible for various stereotypes around my school (the trials of being a "lady geek", I suppose). Apparently programming isn't something "they" are good at either... Or dancing, or singing, ad infinitum...

It's horribly outdated, and thankfully Randall regularly fights the stereotype (Adventure Girl, Ms. Classhole, Joanna, etc).
Dangermouse wrote:I hope this doesn't mirror too much of what you've read--and btw, you should read less and do more. No one takes good pictures or runs a marathon sitting on their couch surfing the internet.


WCG xkcd team

User avatar
zomgmouse
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:44 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby zomgmouse » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:19 am UTC

ShadowLurker wrote:It's x^3/3 right?

I do this all the time XD


No, DX.
"Alf Todd," said Ukridge, soaring to an impressive burst of imagery, "has about as much chance as a one-armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of melted butter into a wild cat's left ear with a red-hot needle." P.G. Wodehouse

User avatar
william
Not a Raptor. Honest.
Posts: 2418
Joined: Sat Oct 14, 2006 5:02 pm UTC
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby william » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:20 am UTC

william wrote:And yet almost all of the people in my school complaining about how hard AP Calculus is are girls. I know it's heretical but maybe boys are better at something.

After reading 4=5's article I'm going to retract the first half of the statement. I am not, however, retracting the second half, because it's important. I see a sinister undertone in all the "GIRL POWER" movements and I have since I saw the reaction to that "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" shirt. Let's face it, if it said "girls are stupid, throw rocks at them" it would have been taken off the stores in minutes.

ShadowLurker: It's x^3/3 + C.
SecondTalon wrote:A pile of shit can call itself a delicious pie, but that doesn't make it true.

User avatar
mehmattski
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 3:03 am UTC
Location: Durham, NC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby mehmattski » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:21 am UTC

On the other, sadder, end of the spectrum:

Girl: I suck at math

It is my impression* that many girls say this and then don't make the effort to even try to get better at math. The causes are twofold: either the girl may feel pressured against studying harder, because it's not feminine, or (more likely), since it is "accepted" that girls suck at math, it's fine for her to also suck.

*impression based on years of tutoring pre-algebra and algebra.

Robin S
Posts: 3579
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:02 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Robin S » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:23 am UTC

It's x^3/3 + C.
Not necessarily. You don't know what they're integrating with respect to.
This is a placeholder until I think of something more creative to put here.

User avatar
nahtanoj999
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:23 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby nahtanoj999 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:27 am UTC

You'd have to suck pretty bad to make that particular mistake.

suzi
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:04 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby suzi » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:28 am UTC

I don't think it's the truth of the matter that's being discussed (I personally think that there probably is a gender difference), it's the fact that the stereotype is pervasive enough to make the assumption a *universal gender one* as opposed to an *individual one*.

GodShapedBullet
Posts: 686
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:59 pm UTC
Location: Delaware
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:30 am UTC

At xkcd I learned that girls can do anything boys can do except not have hair on their heads.

DVC
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:20 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby DVC » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:31 am UTC

I think the point he is trying to make is that if you see a guy doing maths badly you don't infer anything about his gender. However because of the stereotypes that exist in our society you see a girl not getting it right and you just believe it's because she's a girl! Because there are often fewer girls in physics or maths classes this view is allowed to propagate.

We should actually make a conscious effort to deal with each individual on their own merits, and not to imply these stereotypes.

Someone else linked to an article that talks about how good all round students who happen to be female are dissuaded from going into the sciences. Well I once had an English teacher tell me I couldn't do the higher level of English because I wouldn't be able to manage that and the difficult level of maths I was doing at the same time (I'm male). Basically she was saying that she wouldn't offer me help with English because I was a good Maths and Science student. So, I guess what I'm saying here is that I've experienced the reverse of that. (Note: I now write science fiction and am a scientist)

User avatar
Spoffin
Posts: 509
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:51 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:38 am UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:At xkcd I learned that girls can do anything boys can do except not have hair on their heads.
If they didn't have hair, they wouldn't be girls. You can't fault them for being unable to do the logically impossible.


I would just like to ad though, that in spite of its overall anti-sexism message, I am disgusted at the way this comic objectifies the female form.
Last edited by Spoffin on Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:39 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
The thing to remember about Spoffin is that he's playing by rules no one else understands

User avatar
b.i.o
Green is the loneliest number
Posts: 2519
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:38 pm UTC
Location: Hong Kong

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby b.i.o » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:38 am UTC

I see far too many normally reasonable people make this stereotype all too often, and it annoys the hell out of me.

User avatar
Spoffin
Posts: 509
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:51 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:40 am UTC

Silver2Falcon wrote:I see far too many normally reasonable people make this stereotype all too often, and it annoys the hell out of me.
Its okay to do it for the lolz though.
The thing to remember about Spoffin is that he's playing by rules no one else understands

Herman
Posts: 559
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 2:46 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Herman » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:41 am UTC

Attn: Girls

You are probably better at math than you have been lead to believe. Consider becoming an engineer.

My college has a great engineering program.

Come to my school.

Please.

ironiridis
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:29 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby ironiridis » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:42 am UTC

mehmattski wrote:...since it is "accepted" that girls suck at math, it's fine for her to also suck.

Well. Hear hear.

*bracing for ban*

User avatar
zomgmouse
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:44 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby zomgmouse » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:44 am UTC

Spoffin wrote:
GodShapedBullet wrote:At xkcd I learned that girls can do anything boys can do except not have hair on their heads.
If they didn't have hair, they wouldn't be girls. You can't fault them for being unable to do the logically impossible.


Baldness isn't sexist, by the way; it affects females too.
"Alf Todd," said Ukridge, soaring to an impressive burst of imagery, "has about as much chance as a one-armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of melted butter into a wild cat's left ear with a red-hot needle." P.G. Wodehouse

User avatar
antonfire
Posts: 1772
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:31 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby antonfire » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:45 am UTC

4=5 wrote:good thing he isn't the president of a collage or anything.
Yes, it's fun to make fun, but have you actually read the speech that caused all the controversy? Here's a link: http://www.president.harvard.edu/speech ... /nber.html. It was blown way out of proportion.

Spoffin wrote:Its okay to do it for the lolz though.
not really
Jerry Bona wrote:The Axiom of Choice is obviously true; the Well Ordering Principle is obviously false; and who can tell about Zorn's Lemma?

Absinthe
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:33 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Absinthe » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:47 am UTC

zomg! They forgot the differential!

User avatar
Izzhov
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:39 am UTC
Location: Distant Planet
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:48 am UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:At xkcd I learned that girls can do anything boys can do except not have hair on their heads.

BRILLIANT!

Seriously, I think that, on average, boys are better at math than girls (just because of the way our brains evolved), but stereotyping it like that is ridiculous because there are so many exceptions. ;/

Absinthe wrote:zomg! They forgot the differential!

Well, duh. They both suck, remember? :P

User avatar
sqrt(-1)<3pi
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:49 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby sqrt(-1)<3pi » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:49 am UTC

I admit the stereotype exists, but i dont believe in it. I (a girl) even tutor this asian boy in math sometimes! I'm on the math team at school! I tutor my (male) friends in programming! But, there are only 5 (out of like 30) girls in my AP 3 programming class.
eww i sound arrogant

I remember seeing a study somewhere, where they tested asian girls in maths. They noted that the students did better when it was stressed before the test that they were asian than when it was stressed that they were female.
Last edited by sqrt(-1)<3pi on Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:50 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
public static String reCurse()
{
``````return "Damnit!" +reCurse();
}

[the 4th root of n]*([the previous number - 1] to the 4th)-(the product of the 2 numbers in brackets)=the answer to Life the Universe and Everything, where n is the page of my post in the intro thread

User avatar
BatmanAoD
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:51 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby BatmanAoD » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:50 am UTC

4=5 wrote:good thing he isn't the president of a collage [sic] or anything.


In context, Summers' remarks were hardly as sexist as people try to make them sound. Not only did he preface that particular part of his speech with "to provoke you," but he was basically just saying that there's a possibility that there are "issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude" involved, which are reinforced by the stereotypes. Note the addition of "variability of aptitude"--he's not saying that one gender is "better" at maths and sciences, he's saying that maybe, possibly, one gender has a less standardized distribution of aptitude. Such a suggestion should not be shocking to anyone, and even if it is, isn't it worth investigating? What if it is true? Should we try to hide from the truth simply because it seems politically incorrect?

EDIT: darn, antonfire beat me to it. Though this does give me an excuse to remove my link to the transcript of the whole speech, since this is only my 3rd post and I'm not supposed to link to stuff yet :roll:
Last edited by BatmanAoD on Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:54 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
V for Vendetta, the movie, paraphrasing Emma Goldman wrote:A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.


Terror Island, Exit Music (google "keaner"), and Copper are all webcomics worth checking out.

User avatar
Izzhov
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:39 am UTC
Location: Distant Planet
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:51 am UTC

sqrt(-1)<3pi wrote:I remember seeing a study somewhere, where they tested asian girls in maths. They noted that the students did better when it was stressed before the test that they were asian than when it was stressed that they were female.

Well, yes, there's also the factor of many people conforming to their stereotypes (because, at heart, everyone's a conformist), but I still think that, if the societal pressures didn't exist, boys would do better on average than girls in math, 'cause of the way our brains evolved. But there are quite a few exceptions (yourself included), so it's silly to apply it to all girls.

4=5 wrote:good thing he isn't the president of a collage or anything.

Image
Last edited by Izzhov on Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:52 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Baalthazaq
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2007 5:33 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Baalthazaq » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:52 am UTC

You guys are all being too specific to the case in point.

Sure this is how it works for sexism and math. This is also how it works for everything related to generalization.

If the "perpetrator" is the same as you: "You suck at X"
If the perpetrator is different, the difference is blamed. "You suck at X, because you are a member of Y".

With Y being in this case "Women", and X being "Math".
It can be Blondes, blacks, Arabs, Jews, Muslims, democrats, republicans, geeks, jocks, whatever.
It can be a stereotype about sexuality, intelligence, skills, peacefulness, whatever.

With problems of scale (the problem of envisioning 3 billion people), means that when we see 1.5 billion people who are bad at math, we find it hard not to generalize. In theory, ~1.5 billion women should be below average at math. That's normal. Even if you meet hundreds of women bad at math, it's potentially hard to work out the real picture because of the scale.

The only reason the same stereotype doesn't exist for another group is that often, you have a firm standing point in yourself. "Men can't suck at math, I'm a guy, I don't suck at math". That is enough to offset meeting hundreds of thousands of men who are bad at math.

It's just the way the human mind draws pictures of the world around it.

User avatar
Izzhov
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:39 am UTC
Location: Distant Planet
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:55 am UTC

Baalthazaq wrote:The only reason the same stereotype doesn't exist for another group is that often, you have a firm standing point in yourself. "Men can't suck at math, I'm a guy, I don't suck at math". That is enough to offset meeting hundreds of thousands of men who are bad at math.

It's just the way the human mind draws pictures of the world around it.

Then why does the stereotype exist more so for women than for men? Why isn't it the men who are stereotyped and the women with "a firm standing point?"

ironiridis
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:29 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby ironiridis » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:55 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:Then why does the stereotype exist more so for women than for men? Why isn't it the men who are stereotyped and the women with "a firm standing point?"

Precedent?

User avatar
Izzhov
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:39 am UTC
Location: Distant Planet
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:56 am UTC

ironiridis wrote:
Izzhov wrote:Then why does the stereotype exist more so for women than for men? Why isn't it the men who are stereotyped and the women with "a firm standing point?"

Precedent?

Elaborate, please.

ironiridis
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:29 pm UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby ironiridis » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:57 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:
ironiridis wrote:
Izzhov wrote:Then why does the stereotype exist more so for women than for men? Why isn't it the men who are stereotyped and the women with "a firm standing point?"

Precedent?

Elaborate, please.

Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

User avatar
BatmanAoD
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:51 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby BatmanAoD » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:58 am UTC

Izzhov: excellent "president of a collage" pic.
V for Vendetta, the movie, paraphrasing Emma Goldman wrote:A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.


Terror Island, Exit Music (google "keaner"), and Copper are all webcomics worth checking out.

User avatar
Izzhov
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:39 am UTC
Location: Distant Planet
Contact:

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:59 am UTC

ironiridis wrote:Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

Exactly. And that comes from the evolution of the brains of the different genders.

User avatar
Spoffin
Posts: 509
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:51 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:02 am UTC

Baalthazaq wrote:You guys are all being too specific to the case in point.

Sure this is how it works for sexism and math. This is also how it works for everything related to generalization.

If the "perpetrator" is the same as you: "You suck at X"
If the perpetrator is different, the difference is blamed. "You suck at X, because you are a member of Y".

With Y being in this case "Women", and X being "Math".
It can be Blondes, blacks, Arabs, Jews, Muslims, democrats, republicans, geeks, jocks, whatever.
It can be a stereotype about sexuality, intelligence, skills, peacefulness, whatever.

With problems of scale (the problem of envisioning 3 billion people), means that when we see 1.5 billion people who are bad at math, we find it hard not to generalize. In theory, ~1.5 billion women should be below average at math. That's normal. Even if you meet hundreds of women bad at math, it's potentially hard to work out the real picture because of the scale.

The only reason the same stereotype doesn't exist for another group is that often, you have a firm standing point in yourself. "Men can't suck at math, I'm a guy, I don't suck at math". That is enough to offset meeting hundreds of thousands of men who are bad at math.

It's just the way the human mind draws pictures of the world around it.

I think its probably more about the girls and maths stereotype, opposed to baseless sexism. See http://xkcd.com/322/
The thing to remember about Spoffin is that he's playing by rules no one else understands

SilentSnow
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:52 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby SilentSnow » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:03 am UTC

As a female majoring in math and computer science, I must admit that this stereotype is seen often enough- and I so enjoy beating it down at any given opportunity.

But at the same time, I can see where people are coming from. Far too many girls I know seem to think that they can't be good at math, even if they're in high level math courses, while guys never seem to have a problem with it. And, given any math competition or math department, you're going to find far more guys than girls. It is, sadly enough, a fact. But hopefully, this will just encourage all those other lovely females in math to keep on proving that we can be scientific, too.

(It's probably sad that I created an account just to post this, seeing as this is xkcd, and there will be plenty of other girls who share my situation. Well, the more the merrier!)

User avatar
Spoffin
Posts: 509
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:51 am UTC

Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:04 am UTC

zomgmouse wrote:
Spoffin wrote:
GodShapedBullet wrote:At xkcd I learned that girls can do anything boys can do except not have hair on their heads.
If they didn't have hair, they wouldn't be girls. You can't fault them for being unable to do the logically impossible.


Baldness isn't sexist, by the way; it affects females too.

*tilts head*

Intentionally misunderstanding for comedy?
The thing to remember about Spoffin is that he's playing by rules no one else understands


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: BytEfLUSh and 99 guests