How to Disagree

FYI, I'm going to be making two announcements on April 1st. The first announcement will be that the second announcement is not an April Fools Day joke. The second announcement is something I'm quite proud of, and can't wait to share.

Note: Members of the Basic Instructions Subscription Service got told today. Just sayin'.

Thanks again for using my Amazon Affiliate links (USUKCanada).

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Reader Comments (38)

"If it weren't, they'd probably have told us by now." is brilliant on so many levels.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFanra

Are the subscribers sworn to secrecy?

Seems more like the subscribers can sit back and gloat while everyone else squirms with anticipation. ~Missy

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjack

But what if the first announcement IS an April Fool's joke!?

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterR4tK1ng

Secrecy...ooooooo. (cue smoke as I dramatically fade off)

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAidan

I'm so glad somebody as smart as Scott finally said this.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Oh, no. They made a movie without me starring as Scott. Damnit.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheMortallyWounded

The Old West was incredibly non-violent, actually. The famous shootout at the OK Corrall is the most violent event in that entire time period, and like 4 people died. This isn't including wars, of course. I'm only sharing this because I found it incredibly interesting how we "know" that westerns are fake, but we don't realize just how much of our perception of that time period is created by that fiction.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBWM

If you go by violent crime rates, sometime around 1980-81 was the peak, and it's been steadily going down since then.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Great comic, as always. FYI, a couple of years ago Stephen Pinker actually wrote a whole book around this very discussion. "The Better Angels of Our Nature."

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaleb

Panel 3 for the win... the dialogue, the body language, the facial expressions. Perfect!

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCR

I guess I'll have to become a I can stop this damn squirming!!

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Y.

I think I remember reading (maybe in an Alain de Bottan book?) that an adult male living at the respective times was almost 1,000 more times likely to die a violent death in England in 1908 than in 2008.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEarlfothercs

The world isn't more violenter (sic) than ever, but the world's weapons are more easily accessible and have 'improved' to the degree that anyone wanting to act violentistly (sic) is able to do it quickly, easily, efficiently and with comparatively little personal risk.

Way to go, Progress!

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy

Is the big surprise going to be... NEW-BUT-STILL-RECYCLED ART?


March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Lately, in the course of having an argument online, I was looking for evidence of a time when marital violence was acceptable, tolerated, legal. Pretty much everywhere I read about, it was not, but people believed that it -had- been in the bad old days. Which in fact weren't so bad. Like Blackstone writing about before 1660, but he was writing a hundred years after that. Or, ancient Roman times. This may not be a universal principle, but it's important to look at the evidence. When there weren't cops you couldn't call the cops, but usually there was somebody. And there are people who get away with it, but they're liable to be Roman emperors.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie

I can wait

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMister Tee

In fact, Stephen Pinker argues in The Better Angels of our Nature that not only are we now less violent than at other times, but this is actually the least violent time in all of history.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNed

This pre-announcement will cause Rick to cancel his subscription because he likes to squirm. Or at least he's accustomed to it.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Walters

The second announcement was totally kick ass. And if it weren't, somebody would have told you by now.


March 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermoojen

I was going to recommend Stephen Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature", but Caleb beat me to it. So instead I'm seconding the recommendation of Stephen Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature."

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I didn't realize my subscription came with bonus gloating rights. Excellent!

Seriously... if you haven't subscribed, you should. The back-story on the comics alone is well worth the price of admission. AND, you still get to squirm with anticipation waiting for the comics to be published so you can join in the witty commenters and laugh all over again. :)

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen

You fools, you don't understand how easy you all have it!

Blah. I'm a subscriber, but I just read the comics here every (other) work day like the shlubs who are too poor to pay $2 a month for your superlative comedy. I guess I'll have to dig through my spam to find the gold tonight.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDrowlord

So does that mean that the big announcement is bad news since the subscribers have been told already?

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

This was brilliant. That is all.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTK

To the claim that weapons are now more easily accessible, I say pish and tosh.
We no longer eat with our daggers, wearing them on our belts at all times. Indeed, it's hard to think of a time more dangerous than when a great many people had gout, wore shoes that offered little protection to the foot, carried knives, and specifically carried knives covered in decomposing food residue.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkhereva

The world was most violent when we had to chase dinosaurs for food and be chased by them to avoid becoming food. No dinosaurs now!!

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwhiny bastard

Alas, I have caved and subscribed. And, you know what? I've never felt more alive!!!

Wait, if the news was sent with the last comic...will I get it?

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill

On the peacefulness of ancient Roman times... look up the riot in Pompeii in AD 55 or so. Visitors to the amphitheater (violent entertainment) were watching a show put on by a visiting Senator (celebrating his birthday, and advertising himself). It was a lousy show, and locals started jeering the show, and the visitors. Punches were exchanged. A large scale fight broke out. The locals... went home and got their swords and came back. Yeah.

The event was so bloody that Nero had to intervene (roll THATclause around in your head for a while, won't you?), and he closed the amphitheater in Pompeii for five years.

Yeah. Peaceful Rome. Ask Spartacus and his fellow milemarkers just how peaceful it was.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkhereva

A third (or by the time everything gets moderated, perhaps twenty-third) recommendation for Pinker's book "The Better Angels of Our Nature". Just to add a bit more information, Pinker supports his deeply counterintuitive argument with truckloads of statistics, making for rather hard going at times, and of course, the further back he goes, the more such statistics are based on best guess estimates. Even so, once you get the point of looking at percentages a given population affected by violence rather than absolute numbers, it becomes obvioius that he has a strong point.

Cartoon Scott's last line in the first panel and first line in the fourth would work pretty well as illustrations in Pinker's book.

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

See also "Tom Brown's Schooldays", a classic children's book which makes it clear that, a couple of centuries ago, going to school in the UK was absolutely terrifying! The hero is roasted alive for a joke, and takes part in a strange ball-game so brutal that he nearly dies. And one boy is bullied so badly that he does in fact die. I think Scott might be right.

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMad Dan Eccles

So here we have a disagreement. The evidence is that the American West was extraordinarily violent, using the standard of homicides per a standard population size. For a recent (maybe boring) review, see Randolph Roth, Michael Maltz and Douglas Eckberg, “Homicide Rates in the Old West.” Western Historical Quarterly 42 (Summer 2011): 173–196. Don't shoot me.

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdougiesc

Every time the media has some ridiculous soul-searching about how the media fails, isn't that them saying that us being better informed isn't a good thing? Or is that saying that we should be even better informed and... Oh I've gone cross-eyed.

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArekExcelsior

Here's the thing... on the day Scott announced he was cutting back at his day job I donated a lump sum in the amount of an annual subscription because:

1. BI shows up in my feed reader with the same frequency as I presume the email subscription would.

2. I get a crap-ton of email and getting several more per week would actually increase the likelihood that I wouldn't read them.

Alas, no special secret number two for me. In a different context this would be a welcome development.

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Er, dinosaurs - can I point out that people weren't around yet in the diosaur times.

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie

+1 for Steven Pinker's book. More media != more violence.

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian J

Excellent comic. Best for some while, in my humble.

Stephen Pinker: There's a video of him lecturing about this on YouTube which gives a summarized version. However I should warn you that it's not wonderfully shot. E.g. At several points he's referring to a graph or table of figures which he projects on a wall. All you get to see is the man himself gesturing somewhere off line.

Still worth watching though.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStevie Hair

I am sorry if this is overly pedantic. However, there is a difference between being stubborn, and being intolerant. Someone who refuses to admit that they are wrong no matter what evidence is available is not the moral equivalent of someone who refuses to abide the presence of those whose identity differs from their own.

August 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGregory Bogosian

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