My chair for your coat

I’ve been thinking about the infamous burning armchair that has become the symbol of the X-phi movement. It’s a brilliant symbol, and a smashing PR success. Students get a kick out of it. Journalists love it. And it’s all in good fun.

Traditionalists need to counter with a PR hit of their own! But how?

[[Camera fades in.]] A lab coat hangs next to a clipboard prominently displaying a questionnaire, outside a lab door labeled ‘Nichols, Knobe & Associates’. The coat, and subsequently the lab, catch fire [[cue the background music]], and slowly burn to ashes. [[Camera pans out to reveal the destruction.]] Everything is black and charred … except for a regal armchair, which sits comfortably in the corner, utterly unscathed. [[Pan in slowly on the chair while fading to black.]]

The only complication I see arising from this PR battle is that, aside from assuming that their children will be poor if they go into philosophy, parents might also start thinking that they’ll become pyromaniacs too. Not exactly a winning combination.

(And yes, I know ‘Nichols, Knobe & Associates’ makes them sound like a law firm. But it rolls off the tounge nicely. Maybe we can come up with something better. ‘Department X’?)


My chair for your coat — 5 Comments

  1. Someone once told me about a cartoon with several nearly identical panels. The first four or so depict a man sitting in an office marked with a sign saying ‘Philosophy Department’, head resting in his hands, staring off into space. The only difference between the panels is the clock in the office, which first reads 9am, then 11am, 2pm, 4pm (or whatever – you get the idea). The final panel shows the same scene at 6pm, only now a scientist is peeking into the office, lab-coat covered in all kinds of chemicals and slightly on fire. The scientist says ‘Damn, Steve! Are you *still* at it?’.

  2. I like the x-phi song! But beware of popularity. Here is a cute paper which finds “ evidence for two distinctive effects. First, with increasing popularity of the interaction partners, individual statements in the literature become more erroneous. Second, the overall evidence on an interaction becomes increasingly distorted by multiple independent testing.

    Sakes alive: first it was “the more you care, the less you know”; now what, “the popular you are, the less reliable”?

  3. PS: Notice these features of the peer-reviewed paper mentioned above:
    Received: March 3, 2009;
    Accepted: May 21, 2009;
    Published: June 24, 2009.

  4. Aidan,
    I’d like to hang that strip on my office door.

    That may be off topic, but it’s much appreciated, and totally awesome! My son and I have a running joke about fake zebras. He thought it was hilarious.

    That is sobering — both the suggested findings and that wicked fast submission-to-publication timeline.

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