J289 – Chicken Noodle

A horrible pun I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. The first two panels actually happened last Monday. I did this comic without any computer processing other than some minor brightness/contrast balancing.

The foodtruck where the first part of the exchange happened. It’s good cheap fare, for any of you who are in Cambridge.

More authentic red “PHOOOOO” version.

So, I have this text file on my desktop, next to the FileZilla shortcut. Up until now, I never remembered to look at it, but it contains suggested rant topics. So, I’ll be presenting what I hope will become a recurring feature here on my (rare) updates. Introducing:

(There was a funny story behind the name of this section, but I’ll save that for another time (when I actually remember it). Also, can’t draw dinosaurs.)

Today’s topic: Why can people be tricked?

In this case, I mean “tricked” in the sense that people can be deceived by things like magic tricks, slight of hand, and general con-artistry.

Since most of us aren’t Descartes, we trust in our senses, not our ability to think. I mean, if you don’t trust in your senses, what else do you really have left? Plus, they’re usually right. In fact, they’re almost always right.

So we get used to assuming that they’re infallible. But like any other sensor, they can be spoofed. When this happens, though, people tend to assume that their senses are correct, and something unexpected has occurred in the real world, even if this would violate known laws of physics or whatnot.

Hence, you’ll get people who believe in ESP or various other paranormal activity, even though these activities would usually violate the fundamental laws of physics, if they were real.

Essentially, what we’re dealing with here is a conflict between a source that is “reliable” (scientific laws as we know them), and a source that is “close” (senses, personal “intuition”). Unfortunately, even among “educated” individuals, close can win out over reliable.

So you get things like evolution, which can be difficult for people to accept (in this country at least), because regardless of the reliability of the supporting evidence (fossil records, actual evolution in action in moths during England’s Industrial Revolution, mutating viruses), it just feels so darn distant. It’s not really something you can watch happen in front of your eyes. Look how long it took us to figure out that the earth moved and not the sun.

Anyway, I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Basically, if you run into someone who has a deeply-ingrained belief in ESP or creationism or whatnot, it’s not really worth the effort to try to convince them otherwise. No matter how much you talk, you’re not the closest source.

They are.