0836: "Sickness"

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zhongl03
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby zhongl03 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:13 am UTC

As a Chinese PhD student in UK, I'm never a religious person. So I was really surprised to see so many haters in this thread.

I absolutely love this comic, and I just registered to say this.

To the religious Randall haters, first of all, like some guy said earlier, I don't see many atheists messing around in your churches. In my opinion, a major theme of xkcd comics is to promote science, like this one. If you have trouble with that, you don't have to visit xkcd, no one is forcing this down your throat.

Moreover, for anyone who is sitting in front of a computer, reading/typing comments, it's at least ungrateful, even somewhat ridiculous for you to belittle this notion "Science works". Like Randall said, science provides us some amazing tools. Like this: http://xkcd.com/676/

When you think about it, it's truly amazing that we have computer, internet, mobile phone... All of these will never come about if quantum physics is unknown to human. Except for science, I don't know anything that works nearly as well.

Science is not about "rules" or "laws", it's not only about the knowledge, it's about a set of methodology. It's about how we can approach the truth. Science is always evolving, correcting itself. Science is supposed to continuously learn from the best (although maybe not at first), so it provides the best tool known to human.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Lanfranc » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:29 am UTC

Well, that was... extremely Anvilicious.

Which never works.

(Bitches.)

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby gangle » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:18 am UTC

Cool Username wrote:
gangle wrote:
Cool Username wrote:
shashwat986 wrote:
Cool Username wrote:Tis is by far the most infuriatingly awful xkcd of all. It's stupid preachy shit, basically boiled down to the childishly arrogant declaration that "SCIENCE > ALL, YOU GUYZ" with a 'punchline' that consists of a curse word and a reference to an earlier, not-so-awful comic. Yes, the punchline is a swear word - this coming from the purportedly smartest webcomic on the net. High-class humor here folks!

And the saddest part? This comic is nothing more than a poorly-articulated, preachy stroke job with a reference attached, and the mindless fanboys are still slurping it up.

Also, plus one to everything SirMustapha said in his last paragraph.


On the contrary, the thing I like about this comic isn't the reference to the earlier punchline, which I didn't remember till I read the forum; but the wonderful argument he's given.

Also, it's a clear reference to Randall's sick relative, and I respect him for his opinion on religion/alternative-healing. He's not asking anyone to follow it.

And yes, I also feel ineffability fits incorrectly, and Randall wanted to use a word like "ephemerality"

EDIT: My bad; ineffable can also mean sacred; so it does fit fine....

Except the fact remains that this "comic" is nothing more than Randall saying "I support science because it is awesome". That is not a joke. There is no punchline. No groundbreaking or innovative perspective is being proffered. This is not a comic. It is randall standing a soapbox, preaching to a choir of the converted. In the words of the immortal George Carlin, this is all nothing more than a big stroke job for all involved: randall strokes his fans, and they stroke him. It's truly pathetic.

And everyone is too wrapped up in picking sides between religion and science to admit it.

The sopbox invalidates the comic how?
I never said it invalidates the comic's message, only that the comic sucks (and that it does). Either you're putting words in my mouth or you don't know what 'invalidate' means.
There is nothing about the comic medium that says it must be strictly jokes. It can be stories or any manner of entertainment. Even aside from that, just about any form of art has always been used as a method of peddling opinions.
uh, no shit? In case you didn't notice, I quoted George Carlin in my post. I'm no stranger to the idea of comedy as an engine for giving voice to an opinion. Hell, that's in large part what made Carlin great. Specifically what set him apart as a master is that he presented ideas that had never been articulated before, or in that fashion, or with the same conclusion. In short, he brought something to the table aside from just an idea. And what makes this comic the steaming turd it is? The lack of anything innovative about its idea or presentation. It does nothing in a unique fashion, and its certainly not a novel concept if so many people are chiming in to say that they've said this themselves before.

No, this comic is nothing but a preachy harangue by randall's Gary Stu standin, and nobody is calling him out on his failure because they're busy agreeing with him and deciding which cheek to kiss.
Basically, Randal used his medium to make a statement, now his community is discussing their various stances on the statement. Whether we agree or not. Whether anything was offensive, and what the logical fallacies are. No one has said anything like "Oh this comic was hilarious" because it's not that kind of comic. Why is that a problem?
you're right, this isn't the place to evaluate the quality of a given comic, that's what the Individual Comic Threads are for.

OH WAI-

Evaluate the quality sure, but it seems a bit odd that you're using comedic criteria for a comic that is blatantly not a comedic comic.

Also when you say
Cool Username wrote:This is not a comic. It is randall standing a soapbox, preaching to a choir of the converted.
It gives the strong impression that this is not a valid comic, because Randal is only standing on a soapbox. In fact, when you say that because of something this comic is not a comic, it really does seem to fit the definition of "invalidate". If you meant it in some other sense, if there is a possible interpretation of that phrase I missed, then I apologise. You'll have to share with me what alternate definition or social tool you were using, because I'm still not catching any way those words could mean something other than this, and I'm not picking up any sarcasm, irony, or really any of the standard social tools for making words have meaning beyond their definitions.

Also I never said anything about sending a message through comedy. I said that artistic mediums have always been used as soapboxes with great frequency. Sure, you can send a message through comedy, but comedy is not necessary for the message to be sent. In this instance it is not a matter of using comedy to send a message, but rather using a comic. I'm still not sure you understand the difference.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby monicaclaire » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:46 am UTC

Fucking-A.

origamiman
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby origamiman » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:07 am UTC

Just wanted to interrupt the deep conversation here to respectfully propose that this comic be made into a print! I'd love to have a copy up on my wall.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:27 am UTC

gangle wrote:Evaluate the quality sure, but it seems a bit odd that you're using comedic criteria for a comic that is blatantly not a comedic comic.

Also when you say
Cool Username wrote:This is not a comic. It is randall standing a soapbox, preaching to a choir of the converted.
It gives the strong impression that this is not a valid comic, because Randal is only standing on a soapbox.


ERROR: Overloaded term 'comic' in thread ID 67023.

The object in discussion is "a comic" in the sense that it is an instance of the particular medium of art consisting of sequential panels of images representing the passage of time and often containing textual representations of dialogue associated with the characters depicted in said images.

The object in question is not necessarily "comic" in the sense of the dramatic genre intended to evoke levity, smiles, laughter, etc.

Cool Username seems to be conflating "comics" with "comedy" - an understandable confusion, given their twisted etymology. In saying that it is "not a comic", he seems to mean that it is "not comical": that is to say, not funny, or even entertaining in any way.

I believe gangle here is attempting to point out that not all comics are comical, and so being not-comical does not make this not a comic. Genre is not medium. It may very well be a different genre in the same medium. Comedy can be told through media other than comics, and genres other than comedy can be told through comics. They comic-in-medium may be an essay-in-genre.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Vaskafdt » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:57 am UTC

First of all. I do not believe in a personal god as described in most doctrines. more then that, I actively believe his nonexistence. I reject all things spiritual. I consider the "holy texts" (old testament, new, Qur'an, etc..) to be a collection of fairy tales with some spicing of historical half truths. and I have a lot of negative opinions concerning the practice of religion.
the specifics of those opinions I will keep to myself.

as I write these words I probably offended someone. telling a person that you believe his faith nonsense is offensive. If I were to say these words at the family table (on the religious side) I would get a long lecture about tolerance. If I would say those words at work (religious majority here) I will get a few frowns and will be considered rude.
but that is what I believe. should I change my faith to avoid offense?

If I were to say at a time of great joy "Oh, how glad I am of the nonexistence of God" that would also be considered rude. but when Moishe from the cubicle across exclaims "Thank God" when his shift is over.. he never thinks to apologize to me. why are you allowed to say that god exists? why are you allowed to say that everything i believe is wrong. why are you allowed to dismiss my faith out of hand without regard for my feelings. where is my apology for all the "thank god"s and all the "bless you"s.

Mr Monroe just said. Science gives us tools that work. and you dare to take offence?

try again after you apologize for all the times you praised your deity..
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Hoopla
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Hoopla » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:02 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:Randall is not "dismissing" anything completely here, but he is clearly diminishing. Try to strip off the purple prose of the second panel, and what you get is pretty much him saying "No offence, guys, but you are all idiots".

No no no you're getting him all wrong! He's saying, "hey, no offence guys, but I disagree," and I completely agree with him. I think that he is right, because he is not "dismissing" religion, only saying that it can't cure cancer.
When you're mother was ill, she used religion to keep herself going. Great! Wonderful! That's exactly what Randall is trying to say! You can use religion for comfort and courage, and I appreciate that, but to fight off sickness, you use science. For Randall, however, science is enough. He feels that he already has all of the answers he needs from science. To use the words of an earlier post, yes, religion does help some people through illness, but it is not a requirement. Debilitating illness does, often, lead to religion, but that is not the same as "debilitating illness, therefore religion." That is silly.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby silverkitty » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:16 am UTC

Hoopla wrote:
SirMustapha wrote:what you get is pretty much him saying "No offence, guys, but you are all idiots".

No no no you're getting him all wrong! He's saying, "hey, no offence guys, but I disagree,"


You are not allowed to be on the internet and think "I disagree" is different from "you're an idiot"(*). It's demonstrable from every internet forum in existence that the two are synonymous. See also: American Politics.

(*) except on most of the aforementioned forums, it will be written "your an idiot" without any irony detectors going off.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby gangle » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:25 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
gangle wrote:Evaluate the quality sure, but it seems a bit odd that you're using comedic criteria for a comic that is blatantly not a comedic comic.

Also when you say
Cool Username wrote:This is not a comic. It is randall standing a soapbox, preaching to a choir of the converted.
It gives the strong impression that this is not a valid comic, because Randal is only standing on a soapbox.


ERROR: Overloaded term 'comic' in thread ID 67023.

The object in discussion is "a comic" in the sense that it is an instance of the particular medium of art consisting of sequential panels of images representing the passage of time and often containing textual representations of dialogue associated with the characters depicted in said images.

The object in question is not necessarily "comic" in the sense of the dramatic genre intended to evoke levity, smiles, laughter, etc.

Cool Username seems to be conflating "comics" with "comedy" - an understandable confusion, given their twisted etymology. In saying that it is "not a comic", he seems to mean that it is "not comical": that is to say, not funny, or even entertaining in any way.

I believe gangle here is attempting to point out that not all comics are comical, and so being not-comical does not make this not a comic. Genre is not medium. It may very well be a different genre in the same medium. Comedy can be told through media other than comics, and genres other than comedy can be told through comics. They comic-in-medium may be an essay-in-genre.

Lol. Thanks for that. I'm not always as eloquent as I'd like to be :oops:

It occurs to me that I probably also should have addressed his comments here
Cool Username wrote: that's in large part what made Carlin great. Specifically what set him apart as a master is that he presented ideas that had never been articulated before, or in that fashion, or with the same conclusion. In short, he brought something to the table aside from just an idea. And what makes this comic the steaming turd it is? The lack of anything innovative about its idea or presentation. It does nothing in a unique fashion, and its certainly not a novel concept if so many people are chiming in to say that they've said this themselves before.

Um, no. The comic is indeed not revolutionary. It didn't do anything new, or use any kind of presentation never seen before. The concept itself isn't actually novel so much as it is relevant, and also slightly taboo, considering that he couldn't have given that speech on television, and there would be almost nothing but angry reactions were it said in public. This despite large factions of people who hold this as their beliefs. I don't see a problem with relevant, but that's just me.

Ultimately though what I'm getting at, is that XKCD is a comic about stick figures talking about science, love, and mostly everyday issues. I mean, at what point did you look at XKCD and expect it to revolutionize the comedic genre with its' graph jokes and love of nerd girls. For christs sake this is standard fair here. What do you want from the guy?
Last edited by gangle on Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:27 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby brakos82 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:26 am UTC

The alt-text or title-text, whatever the hell you people want to call it, did it for me. :D
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Cool Username » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:36 am UTC

I misspoke in saying this is not a comic; my mistake.

However the rest of my point still stands.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby gangle » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:51 am UTC

Fair enough. The rest of what you said was pretty senseable. You didn't think it was funny, and the whole argument seems shallow and overdone to you is the basic idea. The comic blatantly pandered to its' target demographic, and created a discussion that's pretty much been happening nonstop for the last ten years. I mean I'm paraphrasing, just stating the general idea, but it's all pretty accurate and non-controversial. I'm not gonna pretend this is some groundbreaking statement he's made, or that it isn't a blatant means of peddling his personal opinion. I'm not gonna say that the majority of his fanbase doesn't agree with his opinions due to his relatively frequent habit of making his comics a soapbox. It's all quite true.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby sophomore » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:58 am UTC

One of the impressions I had of the comic:
WHG - "Hey, something traumatic happened! Did you debase your belief system?"
MC - "No. (Extended Monologue.) Bitches."
Hey, I think I'd do that, too.

Also, this is one of those threads that kind of makes me wish this forum had a comment rating system. Sadly, I think I'd be more for rating people up who are on the other side.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby 5tephe » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:04 am UTC

This is superb work.

I got through my bout with cancer several years ago, for exactly the same reason.
Congratulations Randall, glad everything seems to be coming up well.

I'm now going to go and put on the first XKCD t-shirt I every owned. Why?

Because it WORKS Bitches.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby oracle989 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:44 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:
oracle989 wrote:Oh gods, religion mentioned in the comic. We've all seen how that Atheists thread is immortal! MAN THE BUNKERS!

Read that comic again please. Because when I read it, I see no mention of religion. Plenty of mentions of science (four by my count) one of which is in the phrase “looking for answers beyond science”, but there is no mention of religion. Allusion, perhaps, but not outright mention.


True. I suppose one could take the "answers beyond science" line as a mention of religion, but I concede the point. It could be discussing homeopathy, too.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby xaogypsie » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:53 am UTC

I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I am an ordained pastor and student of the New Testament, but I am also a lifelong patient/survivor of Leukemia.

I relapsed this last summer, and a good friend said to me, "believe God, and trust science." I responded with, "They are the same thing." God is not a guarantor of meaning nor a crutch.

Hang in there, and may you find what you need.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby kalzekdor » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:42 am UTC

A little over two years ago an extremely rare type of cancerous tumor grew inside of my fifth thoracic vertebrae, which caused me indescribable pain. I am still struggling to recover. As someone who has been through that type of illness, I am familiar with the fear, the despair, and the desire for hope which accompany it. To move forward through the torturous pain, the grueling physical therapy, and the general disorientation of having my life thrown off track at the age of 21, was not a simple matter. It's hard to describe the kind of darkness I felt. For me, personally, what got me through it was a combination of faith in my physicians' ability to help me, and sheer, simple, dogged stubbornness. In the end, all that matters is what sustains you through the times of darkness you face, whatever that may be.

I don't think it's logical to refuse proven medical treatment on the basis of religion, or any other beliefs. I do, however, think it's perfectly logical to draw strength and determination from whatever source you can, all of which are equally valid, provided they work for you.

Yes, the comic is preachy. Yes, it's not funny. Nor is it a particularly unique sentiment. But anyone who has been through similar should be able to relate, even if you disagree. Randall has every right to stand on a soapbox. It's obvious that the illness in question deeply affects him, regardless of whether it is a relative or Randall himself who is sick.

The comic echoes my personal thoughts. If you find that self-serving, well, then I'd have to agree with you. This isn't high art, it's a webcomic. It made me smile for a brief moment. What's wrong with that?

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Softfoot » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:05 am UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:
tgape wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:Just remember that science also says that you are nothing more than a vat of chemicals and that there is no ultimate purpose to your life. Also remember that science says that there is no such thing as free will that your actions are a combination of your environment and your genetic programming.


"God is omniscient." Where's free will in religion, if God knows all details of the entirety of the future? (Calvinists, I'm asking you.)

"Free will is a myth. It is a myth, not because our actions are beyond our control, but because we will do precisely what we desire most. Our desires are what dictate our actions, not some random or arbitrary 'free will'." (Augustine, translated and heavily paraphrased)

Human beings are not strict decision engines, but we do depend on motivation. No one, no matter how free his will is, will ever choose to do something that goes against his strongest motivations.


I know that this discussion has gone a lot further than this already, but if you're going to paraphrase historic religious persons, I'll see your Augustine, and raise you Paul.
"For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing" - or to paraphrase - I desire to do one thing, but I do the opposite of what I desire.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby gangle » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:10 am UTC

Softfoot wrote:
davidstarlingm wrote:
tgape wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:Just remember that science also says that you are nothing more than a vat of chemicals and that there is no ultimate purpose to your life. Also remember that science says that there is no such thing as free will that your actions are a combination of your environment and your genetic programming.


"God is omniscient." Where's free will in religion, if God knows all details of the entirety of the future? (Calvinists, I'm asking you.)

"Free will is a myth. It is a myth, not because our actions are beyond our control, but because we will do precisely what we desire most. Our desires are what dictate our actions, not some random or arbitrary 'free will'." (Augustine, translated and heavily paraphrased)

Human beings are not strict decision engines, but we do depend on motivation. No one, no matter how free his will is, will ever choose to do something that goes against his strongest motivations.


I know that this discussion has gone a lot further than this already, but if you're going to paraphrase historic religious persons, I'll see your Augustine, and raise you Paul.
"For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing" - or to paraphrase - I desire to do one thing, but I do the opposite of what I desire.

This is explainable by stronger desires. Eg. A man who does things his employer asks him to do that go against his moral code. His desire to maintain a steady income is merely greater than his desire to feel like a good person. When we have contradictory desires the stronger one wins out.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby morgoth47 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:31 am UTC

glasnt wrote:Alt: At least, with p<0.05 confidence.

Unless it was just publication bias.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Pyrite » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:30 am UTC

silverkitty wrote:
Hoopla wrote:
SirMustapha wrote:what you get is pretty much him saying "No offence, guys, but you are all idiots".

No no no you're getting him all wrong! He's saying, "hey, no offence guys, but I disagree,"


You are not allowed to be on the internet and think "I disagree" is different from "you're an idiot"(*). It's demonstrable from every internet forum in existence that the two are synonymous. See also: American Politics.

(*) except on most of the aforementioned forums, it will be written "your an idiot" without any irony detectors going off.


So you then think that all of us who disagree with you are idiots, and we must then think that you are an idiot, as you disagree with us? There's no possibility of any kind of useful conversation or communication?

May we all then just as well be talking to ourselves, as we'll never ever manage to make anyone else see us as anything but "someone I agree with" or "an idiot"?.

What then, may I ask, is the point of any of your posts?

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby lordmoonsun » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:18 pm UTC

I spent last year "enjoying" chemotherapy to fight a lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). I remember expecting great revaluations about life, like you see in all the movies. However I had been and remained the same atheist. The alternative staff I tried did not do much good. A day after the first chemo I could breath freely again, and 8 month after the last one I have no side effects.

I did print this comics to hang at the office, science works, beaches!

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby SirMustapha » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:52 pm UTC

Hoopla wrote:When you're mother was ill, she used religion to keep herself going. Great! Wonderful! That's exactly what Randall is trying to say!


No, it's not. I have addressed EXACTLY that in my second or third post, and the big point here is that Randall thinks all the things non-scientific can only give "solace" to people, and that's only because Randall doesn't and won't try to understand those things. Do you seriously think people are religious merely because God represents "solace" to them? God represents much, much more than that. God represents an idea that the world is in order, that everything has a purpose, that even when everything seems to be filled with shit you are not alone, and that eventually, someday, all those issues will be settled. That is much more than "comfort" and "solace". That's why it's easy for Randall to dismiss it in a purple prose paragraph.

All that whole text is a very long and very pretentious expansion of the "Yay, science!" speech he has been doing for years. There is nothing properly new in this comic, but he has never went so far with overwrought and ugly dialogue (dialogue? Stick Randall is making a speech, for fuck's sake) and using his family affairs as justification for it. There is no depth at all in what Randall is saying. He is trying to align himself as the Carl Sagan of the Internet generation, but his ideas are shallow and juvenile, and he thinks the difficult words will compensate for it.

P.S.: to some people who are really butthurt with the negative commentary here: the question is not whether God exists or not, but whether Randall's comic is a piece of shit or not. Making your just-add-water speeches against religion is very easy; now try to wrap your mind around this: THERE ARE NON-RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WHO HATE THIS COMIC.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Captain Chaos » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:54 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:Just remember that science also says that you are nothing more than a vat of chemicals and that there is no ultimate purpose to your life. Also remember that science says that there is no such thing as free will that your actions are a combination of your environment and your genetic programming.

[citation needed]

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Vaskafdt » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:24 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:No, it's not. I have addressed EXACTLY that in my second or third post, and the big point here is that Randall thinks all the things non-scientific can only give "solace" to people, and that's only because Randall doesn't and won't try to understand those things. Do you seriously think people are religious merely because God represents "solace" to them? God represents much, much more than that. God represents an idea that the world is in order, that everything has a purpose, that even when everything seems to be filled with shit you are not alone, and that eventually, someday, all those issues will be settled. That is much more than "comfort" and "solace". That's why it's easy for Randall to dismiss it in a purple prose paragraph.


I also thing "all the things non-scientific can only give "solace" to people"" is it also because I don't try to understand? did you ever met me or Randall? that you speak with such conviction?

I honestly believe that God doesn't exist. any claim otherwise is offensive to me. What gives you the right to say my world view is wrong?

given the fact that this comic is not really that good, doesn't change your offense at it being the exact same intolerance that you accuse of Randall.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Maurog » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:28 pm UTC

What I don't understand is, if some pusher sold your mom God, Mustapha, and now she is addicted and cannot think about godless life without feeling withdrawal effects, why do you direct your anger towards Randall and his message of "gods are bad, mmkay" (whether actual or perceived), instead of the pusher?
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:41 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:God represents an idea that the world is in order, that everything has a purpose, that even when everything seems to be filled with shit you are not alone, and that eventually, someday, all those issues will be settled. That is much more than "comfort" and "solace".

You mean to say that God represents comfort, and solace, that the world is in order, that everything has a purpose, and that you're not alone?

SirMustapha wrote:now try to wrap your mind around this: THERE ARE NON-RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WHO HATE THIS COMIC.

I mean, there are religious people who don't hate this comic; what's your point? You're getting all bent out of shape by mincing words and forcing arguments or positions that don't exist.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby dexeron » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:00 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:the question is not whether God exists or not, but whether Randall's comic is a piece of shit or not.


And here we come to the crux of the whole argument. All of the back and forth about religion and faith and science and everything else is completely irrelevent, because it all boils down to a SUBJECTIVE OPINION on the comic, and a SUBJECTIVE OPINION on what the comic is apparently saying "between the lines", based on a willingness to find offense where none may have been intended or even possibly present.

Which is fine. You're entitled to your opinion, and failing a "Word From God" post (which never happens), your interpretation of how Randall is apparently going out of his way to "diminish" religion as a source of solace, comfort, meaning, or whatever it is you claim he's saying, is possibly irrefutable. You're perfectly entitled to explain why you feel the way you do about these things.

But guess what? A lot of other folks disagree with you completely, and have taken a totally different meaning and tone from this comic. Without the aforementioned "Word From God" post, we're all equally as entitled to NOT read any offense or hostility into what ISN'T written in the comic, and to say exactly what's being said by those defending a more reasonable and less hostile interpretation of it. All that this means is that we're willing to assume good faith on the part of Randall, because without more details, if it's equally as easy to assume he's simply making an observation about HIS personal beliefs regarding the individual roles of science and religion in his (or his relative's) life than to assume that he's saying "science = good, religion = IDIOTS". If I choose to assume that he's NOT being an ass about this, that's MY perogative. This doesn't mean that I'm simply a fanboy, or that I'm willing to handwave something patently offensive just because I happen to like xkcd.

To paraphrase what silverkitty said sarcastically above: yes, this is the internet, but that doesn't mean that everyone who disagrees with you about the nature of, importance of and relationship between science and religion (and that includes Randall in the comic) is calling you an idiot. The converse, hopefully, also applies.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Duban » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:09 pm UTC

zhongl03 wrote:As a Chinese PhD student in UK, I'm never a religious person. So I was really surprised to see so many haters in this thread.

For the sake of argument lets say that the offended readers make up 10% of the comic. That 10% that was offended could easily make up 90% of the posts because they will be vocal about it. Chances are very few people were offended, but almost everyone who was decided to express their anger here. It's a simple case of the vocal minority.
Last edited by Duban on Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:39 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby plasticup » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:27 pm UTC

My mother was pretty sick a couple years ago, and this comic summed up my feelings precisely. I did not begrudge her the religious comfort that she wanted, but we didn't treat her cancer with holy water. We got the best damn oncologists in the world, and two years later things seem to be alright.

I'm sorry if some folks in this thread couldn't see the gentle nod Randall gave to the solace of religion, but I suppose some folks just see what they want to see.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby LdyGray » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:15 pm UTC

You may have already seen this, but here is an article Dan Dennett posted after a serious illness: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/280

Very similar sentiments, although Mr. Munroe's comic is of course more delightful.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby gangle » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:35 pm UTC

My favorite part is how SirMustapha assumes that no one who agrees with the comic knows the feelings of religious people. "She was Reaching out for help. She needs God at her side to move on. Randal will probably never understand it! (Implication that because we agree we don't understand it)"

Sweet shit man. I'm a devout member of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints. I've spent a huge chunk of my life serving the lord. Spent four years getting up at 5am to go to seminary before school. My sunday church sessions last three hours, and then we meet up again in the evening for scripture study or service projects, depending on what we were able to book. Just last week I played the inn keeper in a reenactment of Jesus Christ's birth and I was Caroling on one of the coldest evenings we've had so far this winter.

Just because of this am I supposed to expect every dude I encounter to value God the same way I do? Should I feel my belief system has been devalued every time someone points out that any help I've received on this earth is from people, and God's place in the process was speculative at best? Don't be ridiculous. Believe it or not, there are other belief systems that contradict mine. It's the same as getting pissed off every time a jewish person claims that Jesus was not the son of God, nor is he our personal savior.

Honestly, our culture is too religion oriented to begin with. You can say any number of things, and if it's part of the system of beliefs of the religion to subscribe to, then you're safe. Want to say something innocuous that's part of your own belief system, but contradicts the beliefs of an organized religion? Well too bad. Because your beliefs weren't fed to you by a man in ceremonial garb it's invalid. Sweet shit man, have you checked the year? We've come too far for this. I refuse to treat athiesm, agnosticism, or just differing beliefs from what I practice as somehow offensive. I don't know why you do.

Also sophomore was right on the money
sophomore wrote:One of the impressions I had of the comic:
WHG - "Hey, something traumatic happened! Did you debase your belief system?"
MC - "No. (Extended Monologue.) Bitches."
Hey, I think I'd do that, too.


QFT

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby MrCode » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:47 pm UTC

silverkitty wrote:But your actions are NOT theoretically predictable - even if they are deterministic.

Setting aside quantum indeterminacy for a moment (and that is a BIG thing to set aside): even if the universe were absolutely deterministic, it would be impossible for the universe to contain a computer powerful enough to predict the next instant of the universe (just holding the present state of the universe would use up as much memory as the universe itself contains). Of course, to predict your next action we would only have to model the particles of your body and and every particle that interacted or will interact with them, recursively - to leave any particle out is to make the model more the more likely to break over time. And, of course, you could never interact with the model of you (or with anyone or anything that had been affected by the model of you), or else the model of you would have to contain itself in its entirety (impossible), so from your point of view, the model of you cannot exist.

(...)

EDIT: for purposes of reassurance, and mostly because of the probably temporary ignorance held by humanity, I left out the possibility that "everything that is important in your brain happens at a level higher than the particle." It may well be the case that "merely" modeling all of your neurons is completely sufficient to model your "thoughts" and that quantum indeterminacy and chaotic effects on individual particles are unimportant due to scale. This also leaves open the possibility that mapping your present "thought state" may be possible without affecting it (much as I can read a clock without changing the time it shows - the effect I have on the clock is unimportant to the clock's "function"). However, the jury is still out on how deeply we need to model a brain to understand it, so I'm erring on the side of "more information is better." When I'm reading my Greg Egan science fiction, though, I'm more than happy to err the other way so that I can assume the computer models of people "are" the same person.

I'm aware of the whole "information paradox", or whatever it's called (i.e. that you can't model the universe in its entirety within itself, thus you can't predict anything with 100% accuracy), but the bolded part is what drives me crazy...all my previous accomplishments, potential ones, etc. all rendered meaningless because someone with their "ultimate supercomputer" could have managed to beat my brain to the punch, since they never would have even needed to go down to the quantum level :cry:

But anyways, for me the debate is more than just something interesting to talk about...it's a serious personal issue, and I probably shouldn't take this much further here (if any further at all). I don't believe myself to be religious (I'm damn confused and undecided as far as beliefs go, if any), but personally I feel that if everything is really predetermined, then it pretty much renders life meaningless. :( Seriously, I don't see how the determinists here can put up with it...

EDIT: Put simply: I've read a couple of the free will debate threads in SB...scary sh*t.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby edbdqt » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:55 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:like saying Chocolate Ice Cream and a 45mph speed limit are in opposition... aka What The Hell Does One Have To Do With The Other?
I don't know about Chocolate, but 45mph speed limit can be seriously at odds with Rocky Road.

Personally, when i think "45mph" i think "ELEPHANT TRACKS!"

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby SpringLoaded12 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

It's the same punchline twice, as I'm sure people are complaining (I take the 'too long, did not read' approach if the thread's more than 2-3 pages), but with different justification.

The original justified it with a graph, and a reference to an obscure (but very important) scientific study.

This one justifies it with a debate of philosophy.

To me, it seems like this way, you get the point regardless of your preference of style. It's good, I approve.

And they do work, bitches.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:03 pm UTC

Pyrite wrote:
silverkitty wrote:You are not allowed to be on the internet and think "I disagree" is different from "you're an idiot"(*). It's demonstrable from every internet forum in existence that the two are synonymous. See also: American Politics.

(*) except on most of the aforementioned forums, it will be written "your an idiot" without any irony detectors going off.
So you then think that all of us who disagree with you are idiots, and we must then think that you are an idiot, as you disagree with us? There's no possibility of any kind of useful conversation or communication?

May we all then just as well be talking to ourselves, as we'll never ever manage to make anyone else see us as anything but "someone I agree with" or "an idiot"?.

What then, may I ask, is the point of any of your posts?
Sarcasm: learn it.

Regarding the general theme of not turning to religion in times of distress, I'll just quote the ever-amazing Carl Sagan:
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Singuhilarity » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:12 pm UTC

My girlfriend doesn't think xkcd is particularly funny. You know what she does about it? Not laugh.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Vehemence » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:15 pm UTC

gangle wrote:
bmonk wrote:
Max2009 wrote:
Vehemence wrote:
Tass wrote:
Max2009 wrote:I'm just glad that Randall's relative is doing better.
Also, "answers beyond science" could mean magic. It doesn't have to be religion.


There's a difference?

Beat me to it.

Of course there's a difference!
A priest does religion, a mage does magic.
A priest uses a deity and miracles to preform non-ordinary feats.
A mage uses forces and actions to preform non-ordinary feats.
When a priest encounters something (s)he cannot explain (s)he says it's part of the divine plan and dumps it in the lap of the deity.
When a mage encounters something (s)he cannot explain (s)he invokes a demon that explains it. Or does research.
In any event, any nerd (except for art nerds, I suppose) can tell you that religion and magic have little or nothing to do with one another.


OTOH, a priest, or any person of the Christian faith, does not use a deity to perform non-ordinary feats. We ask our deity, we develop a relationship with our deity. We do not force God to act.

More, when I encounter something I cannot explain, I say, "I don't know," and decide how important it is to figure out. Then I find the appropriate tools to understand it, or go on to something more important. Like most scientists, I would expect.


Dude, how much clearer could they be that they weren't actually talking about anything real anymore. They were talking about the fantasy priest archetype and mages. I mean really, did you think for a second that a genuine comparison was being drawn between a catholic minister and a warlock? For christ's sake they're talking about summoning a demon to explain the unexplainable. You might as well have walked into a conversation about the functional differences between paladins and arcane swordsmen and started pointing out the things said about the paladin that weren't true of medieval crusaders.

While I'm on the topic though, To aru majutsu no index is the shit. Check it out for the Priest-mages yo.

I like this discussion better than the other hooplah going on in this thread. I vote we continue it.

The miracles that occur in some faith belief systems are pretty close to magic from my viewpoint. Water turning to wine, wine turning to blood, disgusting Necco wafer-looking things turning to flesh, people rising from the grave, etc., all fall into the category of things that are so unlikely as to be comfortably defined as 'impossible' for me. The same goes for voodoo practices, spirits possessing Japanese temples, our homes resting on the back, head, or eye of a Chinese dragon, or, if you're Icelandic, the legal obligation to have your land surveyed for elves before obtaining a building permit. Whether summoning a ball of fire or bolt of lightning with some magical words or sacrificing an animal for protection from a deity, they seem to fall into the same category. As someone with no faith-based beliefs and a scientific outlook on the world, they don't seem that different. It all registers to me as 'interesting fiction'.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby bmonk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:16 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I maintain that people whose beliefs are shaken by science had very shallow beliefs to begin with. If the entirety of your faith hinges upon the phrase 'God made the world in 7 days' and not, you know, on the teachings of Christ, or what Abraham had to say on family or whatever, then I think you've missed the point, and your faith is pretty shallow.

Most of the 'religious scientists' I know fully accept and believe in evolution, in free will, and that the universe started with the big bang. They have a deeper faith than that, and it jives with their profession. It really annoys me to hear people say 'but there are religious scientists out there!' as if the majority of them are young earth creationists who also happen to study evolutionary biology, and you know, just aren't quite convinced. :roll:


More to the point, most members of most churches also fully accept evolution, free will, the big bang, and so on. Their faith and their trust in science do not exclude one another, no matter how developed or superficial each may be. (That is, some are very knowledgeable about science, but not religion; others vice versa, or good on both, or poor on both. None of these groups necessarily has a problem with science vs. religion.)
Having become a Wizard on n.p. 2183, the Yellow Piggy retroactively appointed his honorable self a Temporal Wizardly Piggy on n.p.1488, not to be effective until n.p. 2183, thereby avoiding a partial temporal paradox. Since he couldn't afford two philosophical PhDs to rule on the title.


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