How to Mediate a Dispute

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Reader Comments (53)

They do all sound easily crazy.

As does "Reality is made of vibrating strings that no one can detect, which inhabit multiple dimensions most of which no one can detect either."

And that last one is totally not a religious statement of faith. Because of, um, reasons.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkhereva

Long time fan. Unlike most of your comics, I found this one not very funny, but refreshingly thought provoking. My faith certainly sounds crazy to others, but their faith (ahem, "science") sounds equally crazy to me. Logic requires unprovable premises, hence logic requires faith.

That's deep, Scott, that's really deep. Oh, and I love Basic Instructions.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim

This comic manages to sum up both every iOS/Android debate AND every Christian/Athiest debate. Brilliant.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

As a Christian, I would like to say that we all sound crazy. Anyone care to disagree with me?

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheMortallyWounded

I suspect that when he says all three ideas sound crazy he doesn't mean they're on equal footing in plausibility. I think his point might be that the mere fact that they all attempt to explain the grandest concepts in the universe means they're inherently going to sound a bit absurd to our puny human minds, regardless of accuracy.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric

False. Logic does not require unprovable premises; Logic requires conclusions to follow directly from the premises regardless of whether each individual premise is true or not. This sounds like a pointless distinction, but let me explain why it is not.
While valid arguments may be rendered incorrect by the inclusion of incorrect premises (as occasionally occurs in science), invalid arguments are always incorrect (as consistently occurs in religion) by the presence of conclusions that are irrespective to the asserted premises.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBurnEdOut

YES. Panel three forever. I think I need to frame this ...

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebekah

Religion: flying horses, water into wine, elephant heads- crazy.
Dark Matter: it's there, it makes up most of the Universe, but you can't see it- crazy.
Magnetism: an invisible force that sometimes pushes and sometimes pulls - get out of here! That's the craziest of the lot.
Science is a map, it's not the real world, it's how we find our way around the real world and how we try to understand it.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Geordie Brown

you can't argue with the statement "let's agree to disagree."

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason

It's a little sad when people completely fail to see the difference between "invisible" things like, say, gravity and deities.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMrG

"Where are we going and what are we doing in this handbasket?"

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterR. Dan

Obviously, all three of these boneheads perceive themselves as some kind of Axis Mundi.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Obvious

From the Interwebs:

"Since most conflicts and confrontations are emotionally charged to the point the antagonists are unable to see clearly any logical end to the conflict it is critical that you, as the mediator, help them look for a logical solution."


March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHanover Fiste

Is it just me, or does Crazy Opinion #2 sound a lot like the plot of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (well, one of the weirder plot lines)?

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAA

I've found you can make anything sound crazy, especially when you say it with a maniacal look in your eye.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermisterpold

Great comic. A suggestion, though: You might want to exercise your moderating powers a little extra on this one. BurnEdOut's comment threatens to turn this into a flamewar.

Oh, don't worry. Eyes are on all of these comments. But I have faith (perhaps crazy, unbelievable faith) that the commenters here can keep things relatively civil. ~Missy

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFMA

Yet, so-called "science" frequently uses unprovable premises. If you look at the definition of the scientific method--observable, measurable, repeatable--anything that supposedly happened billions of years ago is off the table. Dating methods, for example, rely on the assumption that certain ratios are constant (such as the initial quantity of a radioactive isotope).

Or if you make the claim that reptiles evolved to birds, please recognize that is not a scientific claim. It wasn't observed so it couldn't have been measured and it sure as heck isn't repeatable. All you can do is say, "This skeleton resembles that one in these ways, and we believe this one predates that one." That's where science ends and faith begins.

The comic is great, though. Particularly given how polarized the US is, it makes me sad seeing people on one side talking about how the others are mouth-breathing idiots... when the other side is saying the same thing. So much for the moral high ground.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Being observable is not actually part of the scientific standard, while being measurable and repeatable are, which is why radioactive isotope dating methods and studying fossils do count as real science.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClive

The really funny thing about Internet arguments is that the odds are insanely slim that the arguing parties are legitimate experts on what they are arguing over. So for the purposes of the argument, the individual making argument A has faith that the experts he or she is consulting, who likely have put years upon years into their field, are not full of crap. The individual making argument B has faith that the experts he or she is consulting, who likely have put years upon years into their field, are not full of crap. I can all but guarantee you that 99.999% of the Internet is far from qualified to make truly informed scientific or religious decisions, so any Internet argument just devolves into who can find the smartest-sounding experts who are hopefully not full of crap.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMKE Dave

"If you look at the definition of the scientific method--observable, measurable, repeatable--anything that supposedly happened billions of years ago is off the table."

Observable, measurable and repeatable is correct but your conclusion is wrong. The core of science is creating models and then testing them. Once a model is tested it can be used to extrapolate facts that are not currently observable or testable. When experimentation can be performed to test those facts the model is then confirmed, refined or thrown out.

This process has happened many times with evolution. Which is why the claim that birds evolved from dinosaurs is scientific fact based both from conclusions derived from the evolution model but also from observable, testable and repeatable analysis of fossils and DNA.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Great comic as usual, but the topic in question was a surprise! With panel one I fully expected the argument to center on a little-known but contested detail from Star Trek lore :)

Who put God on the teleprompter? Anything you put on the teleprompter, Internet Burgandy will argue!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterILookLikeComicScott

Similar note:
I once came to the conclusion that the motto of Disney films - 'If you believe it enough, it will come true' - was correct.
If you truly believe in something, then it will appear true to you. Although, in everyone else's universe, you'd just be insane.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrik

"If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true ... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."
- J. B. S. Haldane, Possible Worlds (1928)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

"you can't argue with the statement "let's agree to disagree.""

Yeah, but you can't agree with it, either. Else you're arguing that you're not disagreeing.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWow

I can kind of see the point that science and logic requires some faith, in that they both start with the idea that the universe makes sense and can be understood by humans. A reasonable assumption, although some days it must really seem ridiculous.
Science is then based entirely around hypothesis, which is a fancy way of saying "educated guess.". Nothing wrong with that. Somebody makes a guess to explain something, then thinks about how to prove or disprove it. If they're lucky, they can prove it through repeatable experiments and reasearch (Stuff like Gravity, DNA, Magnetism), but some things can't be repeated very easily, like evolution and the big bang (by which I mean that we can do some short term experiments and look at the evidence avalible but humans can't create universes through explosions or leave bacteria in changing conditions for billions of years until they evolve into multi cellular organisms, awesome and scientifically valuable though that would be), and so these are guesses that fit the facts so well that its basically certain. I'm pretty sure that a hypothesis becomes a theory at some point, which isn't a fact but more of an nicely fitting guess. Still, they aren't certain, and scientist know that, and occasionally new data comes up that forces people to change their minds. Newton and Einstein were right up to a point, but I think people are coming up with new explainations to explain new data that those guys didn't know about.
So - Science: a little faith, a bit of guesswork, a lot of facts and changing your mind, all adding up to a theory that sounds riddiculous but is probably true. I think. That's my theory, dependant on furthur evidence.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJerden


1. A little, now that you mention it.
2. It's almost certainly meant to describe Scienlology.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCzernobog

So, anyone wanna go bowling?

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBabyDoc

Science falls down on gravity for me. How does it work? Dunno but we can see the effects all around us so we know it's there, we just can't explain anything else about it. To a degree, people see the exact same things in religion. How did this happen? It's part of a divine plan, we can see the effects of it around us but we're not sure how or why any of it happened.
Still trust science more but being agnostic I'm happy to look at both arguments as equally faith based to a point (I'm agnostic, you can never say "I told you so"! HA!)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter2Pence

Wait...Jenkins is a Scientologist?!? Have we seen any indication of this in the past?

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Actually, the difference between science and faith is that faith begins with a doctrine which is asserted to be perfect, and which requires complete acceptance as is. If part of a doctrine is mistaken, the rest may be questioned, and if said doctrine came from divine origins, then there is either a flaw in the divine, or in the reciever of the divine (the person who got the revelation) which undermines the whole faith.
Science begins with the presumption of ignorance - "we don't know what that is", proceeds to observation, and through to a testable assumption. Tests are done, results are observed and analysed, producing further testable assumptions.
All of science is question-and-answer-and-question-the-answer.
The process of testing and analysis may take days - such as the assumption (centuries ago) that blood would likely have pressure in order to circulate through the body; an assumption that was proved very quickly, to the assumption that the world is (imperfectly) spherical, and orbits the sun, which took centuries to prove conclusively, to gravity and magnetism, which are still in the process.
Faith asserts assumptions as fact without testing.
Science tests assumptions as long and as many ways as necessary to come to complete understanding.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDee

"Observable, measurable and repeatable is correct but your conclusion is wrong. The core of science is creating models and then testing them. Once a model is tested it can be used to extrapolate facts that are not currently observable or testable. When experimentation can be performed to test those facts the model is then confirmed, refined or thrown out."

That's just the point. Unless you have a time machine, you can't test the accuracy of radiometric dating or whether birds evolved from reptiles or were genetically engineered by aliens. Even if scientists had actually managed to evolve a bird from a reptile in a lab--and they haven't--that would only prove the possibility, not the fact.

I would compare it to forensic science. In some cases time of death can be off by several orders of magnitude because of false assumptions. Also, on how forensic science really works:

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

@FMA: MY comment might start a flame war? Why? I explained something about how logic works that any logician will verify as accurate, and I didn't even suggest that any specific beliefs were in fact false (even though in a world of contradictory religious beliefs some by necessity must be). Are people really that sensitive? I can't say I appreciate your attempt to censor me because someone might be offended.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBurnEdOut

Obviously, someone has to settle this debate. Some things will always be inexplicable, no matter how far technology has advanced. If we figure out what made the Big Bang happen, we'll just end up creating another universe with the same arguments. Another thing. I love how there's a debate over evolution between science and religion. The debate shouldn't exist. The story of creation parallels evolution. The separation of dark and light, the creation of the planets, water life, followed by land life, followed by air life, followed by humans.How has anyone else not seen this? Also, for the best combination of religion and science I have ever seen, watch these two futurama episodes. "A Clockwork Origin" and "Godfellas".

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDestructicon

Maybe Jenkins is a Scientologist. Maybe Hoodie Guy is. Either way, Scott's workplace just gets more and more hilarious ...

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebekah

"If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true ... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."

But if you believe that a table is a flat object usful for putting your elbows and dinner on, then by JSH's silly statement above, then there is no reason to believe that, therefore you should eat off your lap?

It's not a clever statement, it's a smartarse one. there's a difference.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWow

@MKE Dave,
Thank you! That post should be on all "comments" sections everywhere.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMikey

Opened up a can of whoop-a$$ here, din'tcha Scott...

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterR. Dan

The idea that the creation story in the Bible and the story of evolution match up is a popular misconception that unfortunately doesn't do justice to either.

In the Bible, the order is light/dark, land/sea, vegetation, sun/moon/stars, marine creatures and birds, then land animals.

That is, the creation story gives you an already-cold planet covered with water before the stars were formed. Then you have plants existing before the sun (only for a day in the creation story, but millions of years if you're trying to make them parallel). Next, we have birds and whales before mammals or reptiles, and finally land animals.

In short, the similarities are extremely superficial. This is to be expected as both theories teach the origin of life. The actually sequence of events, however, is almost completely different.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

1) America is the only real military world superpower
2) As a Brit, I'm generally cool with this, most Americans reputedly don't even know where Britain IS, they're not likely to cause us problems.
3) However, the number of Americans that don't believe in evolution is very scary. Even the Pope believes in evolution.

Oh, well, Scott proves that intelligence, irony, self-awareness are alive, well and appreciated in the USofA, I'll concentrate on that.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Geordie Brown

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