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Friday, September 23, 2011
Comic 955: Someone is Wrong on the Internet
Title: Neutrinos; alt-text: I can't speak to the paper's scientific merits, but it's really cool how on page 10 you can see that their reference GPS beacon is sensitive enough to pick up continential drift under the detector (interrupted halfway through by an earthquake).
What do you mean, you can't speak to the paper's scientific merits? Surely someone well-versed in something as pure as math should have no trouble with the "softer" studies, right?
Oh. Wrong. Because Randall's not actually well-versed in math.
Anyway! In concept (that is, in a perfect world), this idea makes some degree of sense. It's win-win: a good gamble. But of course, we don't live in a perfect world, so like most of Randall's strips, the comic fails because of its flawed premise.
First of all, if we're to believe the second panel, these arguments are all with people on the internet. How is either going to make good on the bet? Paypal?
Second, even if this was in real life, I would expect that the kind of people who follow articles like this are generally going to be skeptical. It's not like your mom is just going to say, "Hey, did you see this morning's CNN? Apparently neutrinos can travel faster than light!" No, that's the sort of article that you only find if you're looking for it.
Finally, and probably most importantly, why does the guy need cash? I don't see any kids in the strip, so shouldn't he be rolling in the Benjamins?
In short, it's the kind of idea that would be good if it worked, but it doesn't. Surprise, surprise.
P.S. "Have you seen our budget? We couldn't begin to afford our own thought police," is a really stupid thing to say. Have you seen our budget? Congress doesn't care about spending trillions of dollars they don't have! We could "afford" all kinds of thought police. Not that that's the sort of thing that would show up on a national budget, anyway...