1053: “Ten Thousand”

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby zd0 » Wed May 09, 2012 12:08 pm UTC

sarcasm
Oh no! If I can't snub people with an elitist attitude for not knowing a minor detail in the realm of knowledge what will I do!
/sarcasm

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby radtea » Wed May 09, 2012 12:10 pm UTC

Yosarian2 wrote:If there's one thing I've figured out as a teacher, it's that everyone, no matter how smart, seems to have random weird gaps in their knowledge, things that you would assume everyone knows but they don't.


There are two contrary tendencies. On the one hand people tend to assume everyone knows the "common" things they know. On the other hand most people seem to have a special section in their brain marked "esoteric" that holds things they think are uncommon knowledge, now and forever.

I agree with Randall that It's kind of fun when you encounter someone who doesn't know stuff you think of as common (or uncommon, or whatever... teaching is fun.)

But people who think that the concept of chi isn't common knowledge, or that "the sign is not the signifier" isn't something that everyone who has ever dated and English major hasn't heard repeated and explained ad nauseum, or that the Navier-Stokes equation has closed-form solutions for triangular ducts... are just annoying.

Having someone seriously and condescendingly "explain" to you concepts and facts that everyone with a rudimentary eduction already knows is in my experience far more common than people who don't know what most people consider commonplace.

My current theory is that people who think there is still esoteric knowledge in the Age of the Internet is that they themselves have no understanding of the things they think of as esoteric. Esoterica only remains esoteric to people who don't understand it, so by running around assuming that people don't know commonplace stuff like the principles of Chinese medicine or the critical theoretic approach to policy analysis people are simply announcing that they themselves have at best an extremely tenuous grasp on the subject.
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Sasquach » Wed May 09, 2012 12:14 pm UTC

I'll chime in on the "really enjoy this one" bandwagon. I can't stand nerdy elitism as much as I can't stand jock elitism....as much as I can't stand cool elitism as much as I can't stand.....you get the idea. Is it really that hard to just share knowledge without taking on an attitude of superiority simply because you learned something first?

Now willful and gleeful ignorance....I'm still learning to just let it go. Not everyone wants to know....and it's find if they don't...

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby iamspen » Wed May 09, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Sasquach wrote:Not everyone wants to know....and it's find if they don't...


It's really not, though. Collective willful ignorance is a constant drag on society. It prevents us from moving forward, and, in some cases, prevents us from teaching our children in such a manner that we can do anything but regress.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby cathrinerose » Wed May 09, 2012 1:01 pm UTC

Yosarian2 wrote: or that the civil war came before world war I and world war II.


The American Civil War.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civil_wars#Post-WWII_.281945_to_present.29

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Sdswmr » Wed May 09, 2012 1:06 pm UTC

The fun of showing people new things and telling them new information is exactly why I teach science. Thank you, Mr. Munro!!!

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby queueingtheory » Wed May 09, 2012 1:16 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:It's great when you have teachers at school who actually answer the questions. Even the silly ones, but teach you how to ask better questions or how to find the answers.


It's something my wife (a teacher) does consciously. She's happy when they're curious and interested enough about something to ask questions, even if it's somewhat tangential. She either answers the question then or answers it later. And she'll admit when she doesn't know the answer.

Of course, I don't get to see her teach. Maybe she's secretly an inflexible bitch.

PS I'd only heard of the Yellowstone supervolcano a few days before xkcd.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby hdhale » Wed May 09, 2012 1:22 pm UTC

The strip today separates those of us who recognize "teachable moments" and act upon them from those who should only step into a classroom because they are taking a course.

Being involved in instructional technology, I get to show tell people how to do basic stuff with software...over and over again. Yet I try to keep it fresh by remembering that I have this really cool thing I can do with with a computer and I get to share it. I get to see many moments of enlightenment. I get paid pretty well, but those moments are what makes it worth doing over the long haul.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby cellocgw » Wed May 09, 2012 1:35 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Pazuzu wrote:So, I've actually waited for this comic to ask: What is (up with the) Yellowstone supervolcano then? I've never heard of it.

Short and probably inaccurate version: the bulk of Yellowstone National Park is actually the caldera of a giant, dormant-ish volcano. Hence all the hot water shooting up out of the ground, laced with sulfer and such. And some day it will erupt and kill us all.

That last part is probably hyperbole. Probably.


Sure it's hyperbole. By the time it gets around to erupting, we'll all be long dead so it'll only kill us again. Bonus question: extrapolate from the current state of knowledge about the history of this caldera and periodicity of caldera eruptions in general, and calculate the probablity of a Yellowstone eruption prior to, say 2050 :P
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby cellocgw » Wed May 09, 2012 1:38 pm UTC

So....
Am I the only one who saw the title, and before reading, thought: Is this going to be the amplified version of http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416449/ ?
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Fire Brns » Wed May 09, 2012 1:41 pm UTC

This is an oversimplified model.

In reality daily life will show you that the less you know the more you will learn in a daily setting. In elementary school I learned common knowledge as often as 10[?] times a day, in high school I may have learned a common fact as infrequently sometimes as 1 in 4 days.
Randal's model -that a common fact is learned by 10,000 people a day- is an average.

My interpretation of this would be an exponential decay graph minus the mathmatical imposibility.
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby jc » Wed May 09, 2012 1:58 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Pazuzu wrote:So, I've actually waited for this comic to ask: What is (up with the) Yellowstone supervolcano then? I've never heard of it.

Short and probably inaccurate version: the bulk of Yellowstone National Park is actually the caldera of a giant, dormant-ish volcano. Hence all the hot water shooting up out of the ground, laced with sulfer and such. And some day it will erupt and kill us all. That last part is probably hyperbole. Probably.

Yeah; it'll probably just kill everyone within a thousand miles or so. But that'll be just a tiny fraction of the word's human population, so it'll be a big news story for a day or two. Then it'll be just a historic event that bores school kids, and everyone else will forget it.

How often do you hear about the big tsunami a few years ago off the coast of Indonesia? Can you say how many people died that day without looking it up? Do you even remember what year it happened?

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby eran_rathan » Wed May 09, 2012 2:17 pm UTC

Sasquach wrote:Now willful and gleeful ignorance


This is a cardinal sin, in my opinion.
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Yakk » Wed May 09, 2012 2:21 pm UTC

jc wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Pazuzu wrote:So, I've actually waited for this comic to ask: What is (up with the) Yellowstone supervolcano then? I've never heard of it.

Short and probably inaccurate version: the bulk of Yellowstone National Park is actually the caldera of a giant, dormant-ish volcano. Hence all the hot water shooting up out of the ground, laced with sulfer and such. And some day it will erupt and kill us all. That last part is probably hyperbole. Probably.
Yeah; it'll probably just kill everyone within a thousand miles or so. But that'll be just a tiny fraction of the word's human population, so it'll be a big news story for a day or two. Then it'll be just a historic event that bores school kids, and everyone else will forget it.

How often do you hear about the big tsunami a few years ago off the coast of Indonesia? Can you say how many people died that day without looking it up? Do you even remember what year it happened?
Except a supervolcano eruption that kills most of the people within a thousand miles or so is the kind of thing that triggers an ice age. You'll get at least one year without a summer (and next to no crops) hemisphere-wide, and (worst case) glaciers rapidly forming along the entire northern hemisphere, crushing most European and North American cities in a decade or two.

The southern hemisphere, and the equator, will just have to deal with rapidly dropping sea levels and massive climatic chaos, plus desperate nuclear armed nations fleeing.

Or maybe we'll be able to geoengineer our way out of the resulting ice age.

The Indian ocean tsunami death toll was tiny compared to the loss from even a thousand mile radius around Yellowstone, let alone the above knock-on effects you'd get.
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby kadamczy » Wed May 09, 2012 2:22 pm UTC

I love this comic. If we had more people like this the world would be a much better, more curious place. There is such an emphasis on "common knowledge" that it becomes elitist and people are berated for not knowing something. It works both ways though, there are some people that do not want to learn and those hurt us more than those who ask questions. What we end up is a world where everyone runs around pretending to know everything when in reality they know nothing. Proof ever that true knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing..

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Sprocket » Wed May 09, 2012 2:27 pm UTC

More over, being a dick is dicky. Though I definitely find myself expressing astound when some people don't know things, I don't mean to say they're stupid, I'm just surprised. The number of people who suddenly started asking me "How did you DO that!" recently when I

Code: Select all

 /me actioned
on Gchat last month really surprised me, but after the first two I just realized people I hadn't talked to as much who were either a lot younger or a tiny bit older than me didn't know about that function yet. It mostly surprised me cuz I thought I was a serious late comer to that game, and I've been doing it for probably a couple years now. I probably only thought I was a serious late comer because the person who told me about it made me feel that way. Also I think it went though a bit of a "fad" phase and most people who knew about stopped finding it worth while, wheras I use it kinda frequently. I like how it brought me back to the olde days of rolling d20s in The Red Dragon Inn.
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby tetsujin » Wed May 09, 2012 3:00 pm UTC

I tried the "diet coke and mentos thing" and it didn't work. Dropped some mentos in the diet coke and it just foamed up a little. Nothing like the "diet coke fountains" as seen on Youtube. So the bottle of diet coke went entirely to waste - didn't get entertainment value out of it, and didn't drink it (I can't stand diet soda, and my wife can't drink it once the mentos have gone in and gluten-contaminated it - though it was pretty much flat after that mild "eruption" anyway.)

Bleah, what a let-down.
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby BillGiant » Wed May 09, 2012 3:05 pm UTC

This comic nearly got a tear out of me.

I work with children and get very very tired of hearing adults yell at them because "You should know this by now!"

Well obviously they don't, and just being excited for the chance to teach should be exciting.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Rblade » Wed May 09, 2012 3:10 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:This is an oversimplified model.

In reality daily life will show you that the less you know the more you will learn in a daily setting. In elementary school I learned common knowledge as often as 10[?] times a day, in high school I may have learned a common fact as infrequently sometimes as 1 in 4 days.
Randal's model -that a common fact is learned by 10,000 people a day- is an average.

My interpretation of this would be an exponential decay graph minus the mathmatical imposibility.


yeah, especially in the mentos case you'd expect the chance of learning it to be less lineair and more some kind of steep bellcurve around 14 or 15 (which would fit quite nicely with the 30 year number)

but really, that makes showing it someone that much more awesome.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby janhunt » Wed May 09, 2012 3:23 pm UTC

buddy431 wrote:Being able to recognize and say "I don't know" is one of the things most lacking in people.


John Holt, who pretty much single-handedly started the homeschooling/unschooling movement in the US, once gave a talk to a high school audience. After describing his views on their structured curriculum, a student asked him, "But surely there must be something important enough that everyone should learn it?" He thought for a moment and replied, "To learn to say 'I'm sorry', 'I don't know', and 'I was wrong'."

If only schools could help children learn those things - but that would be a challenge in the competitive and stressful environment that exists in most schools. Unschooling families, free from those pressures, can focus on these three goals, and everything else follows. To explore this further, see Holt's book How Children Learn and the articles on our Natural Child Project site.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby San Fran Sam » Wed May 09, 2012 3:36 pm UTC

noregsson wrote:
ryzvonusef (1151717) wrote:
GregSucks wrote:Also, what is the "‱ sign" that bitwiseshiftleft refers to?

I believe it's the mathematical notation for "part per ten thousand"


Commonly known as a "permyriad" (less commonly as a "basis point".)...


Aww, you can't fool me a permyriad is one of those big stone structures in Egypt where the pharoahs are buried. :wink:

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby MrRubix » Wed May 09, 2012 3:41 pm UTC

There's no real point in making fun of others for their ignorance, because we're all ignorant about many things.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby hujackus » Wed May 09, 2012 3:45 pm UTC

What's the Yellowstone supervolcano?

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby airdrik » Wed May 09, 2012 3:48 pm UTC

noregsson wrote:
ryzvonusef (1151717) wrote:
GregSucks wrote:Also, what is the "‱ sign" that bitwiseshiftleft refers to?

I believe it's the mathematical notation for "part per ten thousand"


Commonly known as a "permyriad" (less commonly as a "basis point".)

‰ is the "per mil" or "permille". One part per thousand.

basis point is actually pretty common when you get into finance where changes or differences in interest rates and profit margins are often expressed in basis points. (working in financial reporting, I hear basis points quite frequently, including the cost of our reporting services - basis points of the clients' total assets)

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby JoeStrout » Wed May 09, 2012 3:49 pm UTC

I love this strip! But, the math is off by a couple orders of magnitude. 30 years is 10,957 days; so on average, if 4 million people learn a fact over that many days, it's about 365 people per day (4M/10957 = 365 and change). Not 10,000.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby JoeStrout » Wed May 09, 2012 3:51 pm UTC

tetsujin wrote:I tried the "diet coke and mentos thing" and it didn't work. Dropped some mentos in the diet coke and it just foamed up a little. Nothing like the "diet coke fountains" as seen on Youtube.


You need a nozzle to focus the pressure. Easiest way is to drill a small hole in the cap, and put it back on. But then you need a way to drop the mentos in after the cap is securely on — I use a bent paper clip. We do this every year for the 4th of July, it works great.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Widmerpool » Wed May 09, 2012 3:52 pm UTC

babble wrote:There's something about the 'let me show you, little lady' about the character.

What made you think one of the characters was a woman? If the person on the left is a man, would that change how it feels for you?
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby spoonyspork » Wed May 09, 2012 3:53 pm UTC

One of my coworkers - who grew up in a beach house in Florida, is an avid surfer, whose stepdad is a geologist (and we work at said stepdad's geology/environmental engineering firm), and has graduated college - didn't know where seashells came from. Seriously. I stared at her when she asked, unable to come up with an answer that wasn't snarky... and luckily one of the geologists answered for me.

I'm not usually mean about people not knowing things (and I absolutely love showing people stuff rather than poking fun of them)... but, seriously?

Of course, she's also been known to say things like 'I'm a vegetarian so I can only order chicken or meatballs when I go to a restaurant' ... soooo.... yeah.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Widmerpool » Wed May 09, 2012 4:02 pm UTC

iamspen wrote:
Sasquach wrote:Not everyone wants to know....and it's fine if they don't...


It's really not, though. Collective willful ignorance is a constant drag on society. It prevents us from moving forward, and, in some cases, prevents us from teaching our children in such a manner that we can do anything but regress.

Ooh! You're just the person I've been looking for! I've got a shitload of stuff I want to explain to someone, but everyone else just looks shifty and sidles away when I start telling them. But you understand me!

OK, let me start with where Mitt Romney was on 9/11...
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Misopogon » Wed May 09, 2012 4:07 pm UTC

It would be 20,000, since there are another 10,000 people who were literally born yesterday. hyuk.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby hujackus » Wed May 09, 2012 4:10 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:This is an oversimplified model.

In reality daily life will show you that the less you know the more you will learn in a daily setting. In elementary school I learned common knowledge as often as 10[?] times a day, in high school I may have learned a common fact as infrequently sometimes as 1 in 4 days.
Randal's model -that a common fact is learned by 10,000 people a day- is an average.

My interpretation of this would be an exponential decay graph minus the mathmatical imposibility.


For a given common fact, the rate at which it is learned by a population does not depend on "frequency of learning" for each age. What this boils down to is that the learning rate for a given common fact is roughly equal to the birth rate. However...

The only oversimplification I see is that the model ignores people that die before turning 30.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Mr Bill » Wed May 09, 2012 4:10 pm UTC

MrRubix wrote:There's no real point in making fun of others for their ignorance, because we're all ignorant about many things.


Here, here. I know that I'm ignorant about a lot (and part of my problem is not knowing what parts I'm ignorant of...)

And there's a difference between ignorance and stupidity as well - ignorance can be remedied.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby cellocgw » Wed May 09, 2012 4:13 pm UTC

spoonyspork wrote:One of my coworkers - who grew up in a beach house in Florida, is an avid surfer, whose stepdad is a geologist (and we work at said stepdad's geology/environmental engineering firm), and has graduated college - didn't know where seashells came from. Seriously. I stared at her when she asked, unable to come up with an answer that wasn't snarky... and luckily one of the geologists answered for me.

I'm not usually mean about people not knowing things (and I absolutely love showing people stuff rather than poking fun of them)... but, seriously?

Of course, she's also been known to say things like 'I'm a vegetarian so I can only order chicken or meatballs when I go to a restaurant' ... soooo.... yeah.


So, she's a blonde? (snarky snarky)
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby keithl » Wed May 09, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

Today, I will learn dozens of ideas and facts, from observation, calculation, experiment, journal papers, books, friends, and strangers. I will pass on many other ideas and facts to others, through conversation and writing and creating. About 20 times a year, some idea comes along that rocks my worldview, thrilling or frightening or both. It is the best part of being alive and human.

I've met plenty of people who don't want to know any more, and live behind a wall of confirmation. In an election year, they are out in force, steering any conversation towards their (usually perjorative) obsessions. You just back away slowly, and instead look for the thoughtful and open people with neat ideas about Kowloon or orbital precession or the rhizosphere. The cool thing about a planet of 7 billion people is that you can always find someone worth learning from, and who values learning from you. With diligent search (and some luck), you work for, employ, marry, and raise some of these people. Or enjoy their cartoons.

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Widmerpool » Wed May 09, 2012 4:23 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:This is an oversimplified model.

In reality daily life will show you that the less you know the more you will learn in a daily setting. In elementary school I learned common knowledge as often as 10[?] times a day, in high school I may have learned a common fact as infrequently sometimes as 1 in 4 days.
Randal's model -that a common fact is learned by 10,000 people a day- is an average.

My interpretation of this would be an exponential decay graph minus the mathmatical imposibility.

Why would it decay? From every year since 1900 there will be someone born in that year who is still alive today. The supply of people who don't know what "fungible" means (or who aren't aware of the difference between Islam and Hinduism, or who don't know where seashells come from) is being topped up every day, and people are learning new things all through their lifespan. This means we have pretty much a steady-state system, and about the same number of people will learn a given item of 'common knowledge' every day.

If we assume that the process of learning items of common knowledge is a Poisson process then (in America today) about ten thousand people will hear for the first time that Canada is a monarchy. And about 300 million won't hear about it today (though a different ten thousand will hear it tomorrow for the first time).

Some of these people will be under five and some will be over thirty.
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby JoeStrout » Wed May 09, 2012 4:30 pm UTC

JoeStrout wrote:I love this strip! But, the math is off by a couple orders of magnitude. 30 years is 10,957 days; so on average, if 4 million people learn a fact over that many days, it's about 365 people per day (4M/10957 = 365 and change). Not 10,000.


Oops. Now I'm an idiot. It's 365 people per day for each cohort of folks born a certain year... but we're assuming 30 such cohorts, so that does indeed get us back to the 10,000 people claimed in the strip. Hah! Now I've had even more fun with this strip. Thanks, XKCD!

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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Widmerpool » Wed May 09, 2012 4:31 pm UTC

hujackus wrote:The only oversimplification I see is that the model ignores people that die before turning 30.

Or who otherwise fail to join the (obviously slightly less than) 100% of everyone-who-knows that [you don't make airplanes out of lasagne]*

But that's OK, because for the USA the correct figure for daily births is a lot closer to 12,000. So 10,000 remains a conservative estimate.

*[insert the "but surely it's obvious" fact of your choice]
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby Widmerpool » Wed May 09, 2012 4:35 pm UTC

JoeStrout wrote:I love this strip! But, the math is off by a couple orders of magnitude. 30 years is 10,957 days; so on average, if 4 million people learn a fact over that many days, it's about 365 people per day (4M/10957 = 365 and change). Not 10,000.

Sure, but that's only the people born in one given year. You have to multiply it by 30, because some of the ten thousand will be 22, some will be 16 and so on.
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Oh, yes, now I see that you posted the same thing while I was writing this.

I love this edit facility :-)
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 09, 2012 4:57 pm UTC

Widmerpool wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:In reality daily life will show you that the less you know the more you will learn in a daily setting. In elementary school I learned common knowledge as often as 10[?] times a day, in high school I may have learned a common fact as infrequently sometimes as 1 in 4 days.
Why would it decay?
It decays for each person as they age, so the average *age* of those 10k people is going to be quite young for most of the facts "everyone knows".
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Re: 1053: “Ten Thousand”

Postby noregsson » Wed May 09, 2012 4:59 pm UTC

airdrik wrote:basis point is actually pretty common when you get into finance where changes or differences in interest rates and profit margins are often expressed in basis points. (working in financial reporting, I hear basis points quite frequently, including the cost of our reporting services - basis points of the clients' total assets)


Ssssssh! "Permyriad" is a so much more awesome word!
Last edited by noregsson on Wed May 09, 2012 5:15 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.


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