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  • Kellie Merie

    And Ladies and Gentleman — Welcome to being a Person of Color in this wonderful world

    • Pseudo

      Perhaps my white privlage showing, but what? How does racism have anything to do with this?

    • The_Rippy_One

      yes, though the basket ball lesson is a better demonstration of privilege/elitism. (set up a basket at the front of the class. anyone who makes a basket with a paper wad from their seat gets an A for the year. Obvious problem – people in the seats farthest from the basket are at a clear disadvantage. Notes generally include that the people in front rarely complain about the fairness of the experiment, because it is easy for them, and they can’t see the people with the disadvantaged, while the disadvantaged can clearly see the people in front of them, having an easier time. Cue class disscussion)

  • Eric Meyer

    Yep. Prisoner’s Dilemma.

  • Mitchell Lord


  • Weatherheight

    Hmmm. It appears that there is a failure to apply basic logic amongst the members of the class. Nice to see Alison saw the way out, even though the rest of the class put their own interest above Mr. Davenport’s. Which is the outcome that I would have expected. People, including me, tend to be self-interested and short-sighted unless they pause to think about it.

    Congrats to those who called “not enough white stones”.

  • Shad H

    Everyone is surprisingly A-OK with being a massive disappointment to the super that’s saved the world a bunch of times.

    On the upside, now Allison knows who to be friends with in class!

    • Iarei

      “Allison knows who to be friends with in class!”
      Soo… no one? It’s not like Mr. Davenport got a choice on what he could put up and no one else put down a black.

    • Emily Crowe

      You really shouldn’t be surprised.

    • Peter

      It’s not like Allison would have gotten any recognition for saving the world from her classmates. They act around her like they would act around any person.

  • nobody-in-particular

    So what’s his point? That everyone else is as ugly on the inside as he is on the outside?

    • Dartangn

      That fair only works if everyone works for it. Just like a world of pacifists will be ruled by the single warmonger.

    • hwfross

      Stepping away from pure philosophy for a moment. It’s a real issue with these sorts of modified prisoner’s dilemmas.

      The more people involved the less likely that everyone can be relied on to act in a common interest. Even if there were no ill intent. For one thing, the larger and less familiar the group, the less confidently we can predict the actions of every member.

      Likewise, the larger the group, the more individual circumstances may exist. All it takes is one student who with budget constraint, who can’t take any chances with passing a glass this quarter, and suddenly everyone has to look out for themselves.

      This isn’t a condemnation of their behavior. Allison was being fairly pretentious in thinking she spoke for everyone.

  • kingleon

    It may have been a more apt game-theory comparison if the the ‘every rock is the same color’ rule had been that everyone received a B, instead of an A, just to add extra incentive for picking white, other than merely the risk that someone else might pick white just due to trust issues. (As with the 1-year sentence when both partners are silent in the Prisoner’s Dilemma.)

    Still, nice! Its close enough that my game-theory loving heart loves it anyway.

  • Ben Posin

    This is very nicely set up prisoner’s dilemma/coordination problem–I think Alison is going to learn a lot in this class! I’m a bit disappointed in her classmates, not because I expect all people to commit to not defecting in prisoner’s dilemmas, but because I think folks should realize that the Prof. isn’t actually going to give them the promised automatic A’s, so they might as well show some community spirit.

  • Abel Savard

    I wonder if Alison could have given Davenport her white stone. I don’t know if she had the had the time but I think that would be an interesting solution

    • Bo Lindbergh

      Or she could have stolen his black stone. But the prof didn’t allow much time for thinking outside the box (deliberately, I’m sure).

    • Oh, that would have been a wonderful way to break the professor’s plan. Sadly, that doesn’t advance her character development any.

  • Fortooate


  • Jon

    Yup. Saw that one coming. It became a Prisoner’s Dilemma. And so, everyone took action in their own best interest, because they couldn’t trust that nobody else would not do so, and even one traitor ruined it for everyone else.

    Allison’s perpetual heroism streak is not shared by the majority of society. That smirk in panel four is inevitably going to lead to tragedy.

    Though I would have liked to see at least someone else go in on the black, preferably someone who understood what would happen, but chose to cooperate regardless.

    Edit: Also hah, I just noticed the bookending. Allison gave that same student paper for notes at the beginning of class, and he called her a ‘lifesaver’.

    • Sergio Le Roux

      I know what Allison was thinking: since putting a black stone benefited everyone, surely everyone is going to put a black stone and save that one classmate! Huge smile! Nope.

    • Eternal

      It’s not exactly a prisoner’s dilemma. An important part of the prisoner’s dilemma is that the solution that is good for everyone is not a Nash equilibrium. Whatever the other does, the “bad” choice is better for you, so the “good” solution is not stable.

      Here it’s different: if everyone put a black stone on the table, it’s good for everyone. It would have been a real Prisoner’s dilemma if everyone got B if they all put the black stone, while here putting a white stone is only safer. It does have an importance though.

    • lizasweetling

      really in this type of situation, I don’t see why you would put down the white stone.

    • Tylikcat

      A large number of people’s prediction skills are clearly better than mine – I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be the Prisoner’s Dilemma… though I suppose this is probably a lot clearer.

      I’m pretty shocked that of the people shown no one else picked black. I mean, it’s The New School, right? Even if you don’t have a strong sense that going with solidarity is the thing to do, it’s almost certainly a hypothetical exercise and in any case going with black, even if you’re pretty sure some of your classmates are going to defect, is a pretty giant “fuck you” to the professor. I suppose we have rather established that at least a lot of folks are into keeping their heads down and mouths shut, but seriously? I’d hope for at least one person to be mouthy and contrary just for the fun of being mouthy and contrary, if nothing else.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      The problem with the present scenario is that there nothing to gain by making the risky choice.

      The whole crux of the Prisoner’s Dilemna isn’t that humans are selfish, because wouldn’t that be a boring conclusion, but that fear of risk trumps logic. In the classic scenario, if you take the road that might make you fall the hardest, the rewards are better.

      Here, there is literally no reason they should care about Mister I Don’t Bring My Shit to Class. They have nothing to gain by risking their own grade. The reward is the same by putting forward the same stone, but one of them presents a huge risk. Why the heck would even Alison put down a black stone?

    • Lmcfly

      I didn’t pick up on that last one until now. The “D’aawwww!” factor is warming my heart.

  • The_Rippy_One

    Welp, that went the way of inevitability XD Professor made his point, though I think his risk/reward ratio was off. In theory, it costs everyone nothing to go black, as long as they trusted everyone to go black – A’s either way. To some extent, this moved from prisoner’s dilemma (which, inherently, has an unbalanced reward set-up) to an exercise in trust. Which 90% failed to have XD

    Not the best version of the lesson I’ve seen, but adequate for the purpose.

    • cyrano111

      But it is addressed precisely to Alison and her claim that we are better off working together. It is meant to demonstrate that that is not so (working individually guarantees a reward while working together creates a risk). Also, I expect that in the next stage it will try to prove his “tyrant” claim, because Alison will feel an urge to *make* everyone work together to achieve the better outcome for all.

    • masterofbones

      >it costs everyone nothing to go black, as long as they trusted everyone to go black

      You would risk auto-failing a class on the odds that all of the other students that you had never met would also be willing to take that gamble? If you were in my class, you would soon be mourning a failed class for the semester.

      However, if I were convinced that this is just a game and would have no actual consequences, I would choose black(it would make me look like a better person to the rest of the class). Otherwise it would be kind of stupid to trust the entire class for something like this.

  • llennhoff

    So, prisoner’s dilemma. Hopefully Alison is smart enough to point out the difference between single iteration without communication and other versions of the dilemma.

    • Yeah. More generally, if you want an argument for democracy, it’s in the marketplace of ideas, which requires communication to sort out the best choice; having to vote without debate is a terrible way of making choices.

      What she should have done is publicly handed the white stone back to him prior to the vote and rallied the others to do the same. By removing the doubt as to how others would vote, she would have taken much or all of the risk out of voting black.

  • SergeBroom

    “I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that’s an understatement. What you don’t know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world.”
    “Funny, I’ve always believed that the world is what we make of it.”
    – 1997’s “Contact”

    • The_Rippy_One

      The tragedy of the song “Absurd” is it’s chorus – “Everyone with a heart votes love.” The rest of the song makes it clear, there is no one with a heart left. There is no blame, just an observation of a world whose childhood has curdled into horror…one that looks an awful lot like ours. It’s clear that the results seen aren’t inevitable, and are redeemable…if only they’d find the heart to change. “It’s absurd” is a call that works on multiple levels.

      And it fits this class, as surely as it fits the song.

  • feli

    Poor naive Al.
    Sadly, I’d probably put out the black one, too. I am just that kind of idiot.

    • scottfree

      The prof took someone’s white stone though, so at least one person MUST put out a black stone. If one person must play black, anyone who plays white dooms them all.

    • Tylikcat

      I guess I really don’t see this as idiocy.

      a) There is a real cost to allowing your actions to be dictated by threats and intimidation. (There may, of course, also be a cost not to, and you have to decide how they balance out.)
      b) Do you really think this isn’t a hypothetical exercise? Honestly, in many ways that’s the piece that makes this less interesting – because it’s the choices one makes when something real is on the line that are most interesting. But sheesh, these kids have to have reasonable bullshit instincts, even if their playing it safe instincts are regrettably stronger.
      c) Okay, even if this is a real thing, and even aside from the fact that the first day of class is going to be well within the add/drop period – what is the real risk/reward structure here? Do you want an A that you got by knuckling under and doing nothing else for? Seriously? At the end of the day, classes just aren’t that important.

      (I’ve chosen the overtly less path several times, and since we’re talking axioms… well, this isn’t quite one, but it’s something like? In a situation where someone is attempting to control your behavior with threats and intimidation, knuckling under generally puts you more in their power. To me, this always feels like an existential threat, and I suspect generally it is associated with even worse situations down the road. The best and safest thing to do is get the fuck out as soon as possible.

      …this has made my life vastly more interesting at times, but I can’t say I regret any of it.)

    • Weatherheight

      Me too, but I would have motives
      1) no way can the prof deliver, so this is obviously a teaching sceario. I’m going to mess with him right back
      2) I’m a RPGer, so acting in the interest of the whole group reaps better rewards in the long run.
      3) If I drop a white stone, I’m blatantly denying my axiom. Up yours prof, I’m picking the option that truly affirms my axiom.
      4) In this stated situation, I lose nothing by dropping black. If the whole class drops black (unlikely), we all win. If just one person drops white, I have a new free class period OR I get to see a trickster get sued into next century. More amusement for me regardless.
      5) Affirming a belief that values others as much as myself proves my moral superiority 👻

  • Curtis Tunget

    She looks so smug.

  • Monica Gorman

    “Yoooo, I studied game theory, you’re a tyrant.”

    • wineflask

      This class doesn’t need a superhero, it needs a math major or two (they would already have had great answers about axioms).

  • Oh, OK. Pious racism/bigotry metaphor variant on prisoner’s dilemma. [eyeroll] Hey, Davenport – go toss the tosser’s black stone in the trash.

  • MrSing

    “All right kids, it’s been real. See you next semester.”

  • Boojum

    Looks like Alison is starting to think instead of getting upset. That might change again soon though!

  • VariableNature

    Wait…..wait. Hold on.

    I’m missing something.

    I have to be missing something, because I can literally think of no reason why anyone would NOT pick the black stone.

    If he had said “if every stone on every desk is of a single color, then every student will receive a (B-/C+)”, then I’d at least understand it better, since it follows the original outline of the Prisoner’s Dilemma; choosing between a great thing for yourself at the expense of others, and an alright thing for everyone involved despite it not being the best outcome for you personally.

    But here, everyone can get a great thing for themselves AND everyone else, as long as they work together. The whole “Tragedy of the Commons” is completely negated by the rules set in place.
    And people still choose selfishly, even though they would all get the same result by not doing so.

    It’s times like these that I really REALLY wish that SFP updated more frequently so that we could see what happens next faster.

  • David

    Number 4 is my vote.

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    “When I say go, you will eah put one of your two stones on your desk, and leave the other in your hand.”

    Looks like you’ve got an egg on your face, friendo :^)

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    “Part of we are all in this together, is that some people are still going to be self interested and screw over the rest of us.”

    Wait, so do you suggest, that not all of us is in it together? Cause that’s how it seems.

  • This whole lesson was for a shifting moral quandary between selfishness and altruism? C`mon …

  • cyrano111

    This is not done, of course, or he will not have made his “tyrant” point.

    He will now offer them a chance to do it over again, but this time giving them time to discuss it in advance. Which creates the *real* dilemma for Alison, because she is correct that it works out better for everyone if they all work together, but seemingly that won’t happen unless the others are *made* to cooperate.

  • I was thinking that the “tyrant” part comes on next page when Alison tells Gold Cane that if she goes and complains to the dean, none of his grades would stand. And Gold Cane responding as though she just proved his point.

  • cyrano111

    The best episode was where one contestant said to the other “I am going to take. If you also take we get nothing. If you choose share, I will win it all but I will give you half”.

  • Walter

    I dunno, looking at her smile in panel 4 I think she thought everyone would pick black stones.

  • cyrano111

    Actually, he said “put one of your two stones on the table and leave the other in your hand”.

  • Sendaz

    On a side note, kind of wish Moonshadow could have been there.
    No, not to gut the professor, but because she has gotten good enough with her powers that she could have made all the stones look white, including Davenport just to mess with the Professor. 😉

  • Dartangn

    Yes, everyone could win if they all chose black. That one guy HAD to choose black, so that’s a safe bet. But considering a SINGLE person going for white. A single selfish person, so to speak, would ruin the entire game and force everyone to on some level (and because this is a simple game, every level) considering their own selfish advantage.

    That’s the lesson. Fair doesn’t work well if some people don’t go for it, and some have no choice but to not go for it. It’s a flawed axiom because it hopes that nobody’ll fuck it up for everyone else, and that’s not likely any way you slice it.

  • Preacher John

    Actually here’s what the black choice gets: they get to take the course with This Guy this semester, with zero pressure, knowing they will fail, leaving them free to engage with philosophy without concern for any marking schema – and then the get to re-take the course next semester with That Other Guy (the regular teacher) under a marking regime.
    This isn’t a punishment, it’s an opportunity – that is, if you’re interested in critical thinking / philosophy. 🙂

  • VariableNature

    Can’t he be a well-rounded character that is also a smug douchebag? That’s what I’ve been working with for a while now.

  • Kate Blackwell

    This isn’t about selfishness but about trust, putting down the black stone wouldn’t have helped the hoodie guy unless everyone else did too, and if only one other person plays white then both of you loose.

  • VariableNature

    It wouldn’t veto the whole group. The rules are everyone who chose white got an A, regardless of whatever everyone else chose. If everyone had a black stone, they would also all get an A. Otherwise, whoever chose a black stone would fail.
    It seems to me more like the WHITE stone is the veto, not the black one.

  • Tony Parisi

    Well… that’s not really a prisoner’s dilemma. PD is about rational choice in options, where the pareto optimum and nash equilibrium are different.

    If they choose to Cooperate (Black) they have an X% chance of getting an A, where X is the chance of everyone picking Cooperate, and a (1-X)% chance, or the chance that any other student picks White, of getting an F. If they choose to Defect, they have a 100% chance of getting an A regardless of what anyone else picks.

    Which not only doesn’t fit the rational choice problem of a Prisoner’s Dilemma, since they suffer no individual penalty if others in the scenario choose to Defect, but it *also* doesn’t work against Allison’s point: her point was they would be stronger if they worked together. But this did not have any factor that involves “working together”: there is no common goal. Nothing better happens for the individual student qua group-membership if Mr. Davenport succeeds. As such, he both fails to make his point *and* adequately give a case of PD.

  • Pseudo

    Allison’s actions are different because her needs and goals are different. The validation of an ‘A’ or even graduating would be nice to have, but she is spending her time here to learn philosophy. They are not.

  • Carlos_Contibulo

    “If every stone on every desk is of a single color…” can be taken as an instructional error, since every stone IS of a single color. Hey, if we’re gonna be anal here, let’s be anal. Maybe someone (who?) could mash two stones together if he/she were strong enough.

    Also, any person can put up zero stones and refuse to play.

  • Richard Griffith

    His claim will be that application of Alision’s Axiom would have meant everyone was forced to pick black. All for One. Do the best for the group. The Tyrant’s Axiom being no one had a choice but to do group think.
    Prof will say, I just showed we all make our individual choices.
    Alision can say we are in it together, I will leave you on top of the building to think about how you are in it with me.
    The people who picked white have to go to other classes with the people who picked black. There are consequences outside of the black and white you failed or passed this course so they are all in it together and their choices will follow them.

  • Iarei

    There are a lot of white students though. Most of them chose to be white, in fact! Hahaha… I’ll let myself out.

  • Iarei

    Now for the real test of ‘how many students show up next class’ now that they think they’ll get a pass/fail regardless of attendance.

  • Debbie Jackson

    Well.. one person.

  • William Lancaster

    I think the last panel of this scene is going to be Alison being shocked that isn’t going to fail and the Prof going ” Of course not, that wouldn’t be fair.”

    I’ve actually had a teacher do a very similar exercise with the class. The only thing that rings a little hollow is that so many of her classmates choose white. When we did it, about 60% of the class chose black regardless.

    Some chose it because they didn’t want to abandon their friends, some did it for morality, and some just wanted to give a FU.

    It changes economics when you realize some people will deliberately screw themselves over just to hurt someone else.

  • Debbie Jackson

    Interesting thought experiment, though. Weighing the qualities of being innately good and working as a unified whole against the fear that one’s trust in human nature is not justified. I am saddened though, to see so many people choosing selfishness or fear or pessimism over altruism, here. I certainly hope that I’d have chosen black.. I know that like Alison, I’d have argued that black was the correct choice, and seen it as the ideal solution. I would have expected more to do so.

  • Debbie Jackson

    I expect the next few updates will enlighten us.
    Personally I read it as some combination of 1) and 4).

  • Natsumeg

    The guy (John?) who donated money to the comic put out a black stone, hahahaha.

    EDIT: oh wait no John was the one whose white stone was intentionally taken away. Nevermind. 🙁

  • Natsumeg

    I assume you’re talking about the students, not the professor who’s just trying to point out something to Alison?

  • Silenceaux

    Alternatively, Alison could have passed him her white stone, since she wasn’t going to use it anyways.

  • Johan

    … I … why didn’t they put the black stone? I don’t get this at all.

  • Tsapki

    To be fair, we only see about six desks here and the class is probably bigger than that. The shot was likely to establish that 1) the teamwork black stone plan failed and 2) it was not just one or two, but a majority of the class that chose white stone.

  • Natsumeg

    I can definitely see that happening (Professor making Alison choose).

    Though honestly I find this kind of unrealistic. I feel like in an actual academic environment, there would be many people putting out a black stone because they know better and see this for what it is.

    As it is now, the main reason to not put out a black stone is fear that someone else will put out a white stone and cause them to fail. But that fear shouldn’t even exist because again: academic setting. If the stakes were lower, it might work. But it’s grades. No school is going to allow that policy. students should know better. I used to have a professor who once asked students to eat a dyed undigestible and then dig through their own poop to recover it as an assignment. It wasn’t worth that much and you didn’t have to do it, but even then, when word got to his administrators, he was forced to stop. (He sounded really sad and petulant when he told us that story)

    Ergo, I literally do not understand why every student I see on the last panel has put out a white stone. What kind of school are you going to, Alison? They have accepted a bunch of people who don’t know how to think. Maybe I just lack imagination/empathy.

    It’s also the beginning of the semester….so I feel more than a few students who don’t know better would still look at this situation and be like ‘dude no. I’m not dealing with this weird bullshit. I’ll just talk to my advisor into taking another class that counts for the same credit or take the class with a different professor another semester. If this professor likes pulling games like these all the time, it’s only a matter of time before I get cut off”

  • Guancyto

    Of course, the impact is somewhat blunted since he did this on the first day, when dropping the course is (usually) free and schedules can still be altered…

  • Eternal

    I think that what he’s getting at is that people have the freedom to choose, and that making the right choice for everyone means taking away that freedom. The greater good is the seed of a tyranny.

    That, or he’s making the opposite point. That if everyone can choose, some will only care about themselves, causingthe only sensible choice to be only caring about oneself. Therefore no choice, therefore tyranny.

    Offering people a real choice is hard (i.e. not choosing betwenn a good option and a bad option, but between two equally good ones or two equally bad ones).

  • I don’t get it. Is Allison the only one who realized that the only winning choice was picking black? There is one student who had the white one taken away from him so white cannot ever win. Am I missing something here? I don’t see where he ever got it back.

  • Khlovia

    The guy sitting behind her, who borrowed some notebook paper from her on p. 31.

  • Khlovia

    Check the guy sitting behind her.–Never mind; just noticed that’s the one whose white pebble the professor took.

  • Khlovia

    Never mind; he’s the one who got his white pebble swiped.

  • She’s not going to shrug and say the right thing because she’s not that wise or in a situation where she can easily think about it that calmly and rationally. The comic is about her learning, not about her being perfect. 🙂

    As for the next page’s twist, I like that possibility. Grant her the tyrant’s power after she knows the results and see what she does with it. The trick being that if she declares that someone’s vote doesn’t count, they don’t get the free pass, either. She has to chose whether to sacrifice herself AND the other guy or whether to save them both at the expense of everyone else. A classic superhero dilemma!

    Actually, you’d have to make the canceled votes worse than a reversion to the default; otherwise she’s not hurting them relative to the pre-vote state, so it’s a justifiable answer. Not an unquestionable justification, but a justification.

  • I suspect that that’s what the next page will tell us. 🙂

  • Why? They’re all getting automatic A’s. Her vote doesn’t change that. Only if she exercises the tyrant power she’ll inevitably be offered will they have a reason to be mad at her.

  • Well, he’s proven her thesis that “this isn’t fair.”

  • Monty

    Not to harp on this, students, but this is Philo. 201, not 101. You should have a.) heard of this problem, and b.) all put out a black stone if only because (theoretically) that is the “right” answer. All other things aside, Professor Toyman is clearly not interested in educating students. I hope that he has more depth than we’re seeing, if only because quality-wise that’s what I’ve come to expect from the narrative, but he keeps pushing further and further into unforgivable douche nozzle territory, at least as a teacher.

  • LitShips

    I had a professor just like this. Everyone hated him and we learned nothing. He was fired at the end of the year.

  • Monty

    That’s an interesting point, but if that’s what Professor Toyman meant, he’s still not really teaching philosophy. Or logic. Or axiology. Or anything other than “In this room, I make the rules, I change the rules, I AM the rules.” Which is a far-too-accurate depiction of some professors that I know, admittedly…

  • Khlovia

    But-but-but, isn’t this more a test of listening skills than anything else? The way he phrased it — “If every stone on every desk is of a single color” — logically means that they merely have to match Davenport, who is known to have a black stone. Alison’s expression surely means, “You’re kidding, right? You think we won’t notice that?” And then they didn’t notice. (This interpretation assumes that the teacher’s desk is not included.)

    Which only goes to show that their predisposition towards short-sighted self-seeking countermands even the clearest instructions for mutual benefit.

    • Peter

      It’s not this easy. Even if you notice that there is a obvious solution (which shouldn’t be a problem for somebody who gets accepted on this school), you need to trust every single classmate to do the same thing. Which, as shown, would be misplaced trust.

  • LitShips

    Nope. He’s still just a smug douchebag. There are so many better ways to teach than being a bully. After 12 years in the collegiate education system, I’ve met professors like this, and I agree 100% with Al.

  • Danygalw

    Only Alison is Good enough to make the Right choice? Seriously? *sigh*

  • notquiteotaku

    Pretty sure he wouldn’t have the authority to actually enforce the wager and fail anyone. If he tried, the dean would be on his ass in no time.

  • Tylikcat

    I really want to believe it.

    …I think about my undergraduates, though, and I really don’t know. Especially on the first day of class? I’m at a biomed and engineering focused school, so there tends to be less of a social justice focus, but students do often come in pretty timid.

    One of my research students I totally believe would have put down a black stone, because as soon as the other student’s white stone was taken away, she would have thought the whole thing was bullshit. I’m pretty sure. (There’s also a question of whether she would have worked through all the logic involved in a few seconds, but her instincts are good.)

    She’s wonderful – today she came and found me, totally irate, because at a research event one of the people judging the undergraduates was totally inappropriate to another undergraduate (not one of the ones he was judging, but it was pretty awful – the whole rant about the student’s sexual orientation, gods but I wish I’d been there…!) (Within a few minutes we figured out who was coordinating the contest – a professor known to both of us, who is awesome – and got her over there to discuss the incident. With everyone I called in for help joining team “This is totally fucked up and must stop.”)

  • 桃姫

    I am deeply depressed by how easily Alison was sucked into this professor’s pace, even after explicitly noting that he was using bullying tactics. When the game is rigged you refuse to play.

    I understand that, of course, every other character’s capacity for action and thought has to be dramatically reduced in order to allow this new character to introduce himself in a suitably dramatic fashion, but I sure wish that fact had been hidden from us a bit better.

  • The_Rippy_One

    yup. this is an Extremely low empathy class, apparently

  • masterofbones

    He never said being a tyrant was a bad thing. Generally teachers *are* tyrants – it makes the class move far more smoothly. Also, they tend to be benevolent tyrants – one of the best possible form of governments for small societies. I should hope he is a tyrant.

  • masterofbones

    Choosing black is a *really* dumb choice if you are paying for college without getting massive checks from your movie deals.

    People are good when they can afford to be.

    • Peter

      Yeah, but they should be able to figure that their teacher will break his word. There is no way he actually will let Allision and Davenport fail this class. Even if he wanted to (which i don’t believe), the school wouldn’t allow it.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    More importantly, from this panning angle we can see, let’s say half of the class being selfish but we also see something much more alarming: what is up with that desk disposition? How does anyone get to their seat? Where do they any of them find room to move their chair a bit?

    I think that explains it. They’re all selfish because they’re all severely uncomfortable on a daily basis.

  • Weatherheight

    Unless I’m completely inept at reading faces (which is a possibility), Alison had an “Aha!” moment in panel four, got the professor’s point, and chose to affirm her axiom and take a shot at the prof in the bargain.

    Of course, the prof *may* be showing how people acting in concert for their own perceived good can (and often do) act in a way that affirms short-term personal interest at the expense of raising the overall long-term interest. Everything prior may have been theatrics designed to obfuscate his motives and set up what he *really* wanted to talk about (“I *just* happen to have a bag of Go stones I carry at all times in the off chance I need them to demonstrate a rhetorical point.”)

  • Weatherheght

    Why not “All of the Above”?

  • Weatherheight

    Sure it’s relevant. Have you never heard of “The Tyranny of The Masses”? 😀

  • Weatherheight

    It occurs to me that a tyrant *would* make use of that axiom.

    Present an option that benefits everyone, let everyone know that their cooperation will benefit them all, set up someone to take a fall, punish that person publically, say “see what happens when you don’t follow the rules?”

    Tyrants may not *believe* Alison’s axiom but they can certainly *use* it to their benefit.

    Bait and switch! Nice job of showing good intentions can be easily twisted.

  • bryan rasmussen

    yeah I gotta think there would be some people who would put a black stone even though they know it will end up badly, for example an anti-authoritarian type in the philosophy class might be bothered by this and decide, screw the grade. Maybe they’re over on the side.

  • bryan rasmussen

    hmm, so that’s the guy she gave the pencil to ( was it a pencil, I forget) and then she provokes a situation that gets him failed.

  • Zmm

    So.. did anyone else notice that when he told them to take two stones he never said take one of each?
    am I the only one who would’ve taken two of hte same colour?
    I can’t be the only one who would’ve.

    I find it odd honestly that not even another person tried it.
    Given who was running this, he clearly loved to change the rules and screw people over. he specified what all one colour did but didn ot specify what a mix of colours woudl now do.
    we know that there has to be a black one.
    so if any of them thought they would’ve gone all black. Because that decree left a large gap in changablitliy.

    In fact i now hope that the next page he does alter shit and tells them they all got screwed because the didn’t fulfil the new “winning” condition he set. Since he change over the white condition.

  • Zmm

    I find it amusing only the guy he picked on actually has paper ready to take notes prior to this.

  • RemoteScholar

    I feel like it’s a combination of 1 and 4/5. She probably feels better knowing that the unfairness of the situation doesn’t instantly mean it has to result in a loss(1) and that something he’s been saying is about to make sense(sort of 4).
    I’m betting that Allison thinks that her axiom is going to be proven to be correct because everyone will choose black stones, she’ll end up being very surprised that more people didn’t make the choice she did.

  • RemoteScholar

    The learning is about to begin! The prisoner’s dilemma is an interesting place to start, works for real/personal examples easily. Students don’t want ANY chance of failing, even a low one, so white stones abound.
    I AM a little surprised no one but Allison (not even one other person sitting near him) chose a black stone to try to help Davenport. If she gets mad at the class, I hope he doesn’t invoke Hobbes to reinforce the ‘axiom of a tyrant’ thing.
    I predict she decides that she respects this professor at some point. The ones you learn from are the ones you respect.

  • chaosvii

    “I don’t even have something cynical to comment.”
    This is the second funniest thing I’ve ever heard from you, and it gets better towards the end of your post.

  • Jonathon Side

    I think it’s Deluded Optimism And Smug Altruistic Self Assurance. She thinks she’s won.

  • Jonathon Side

    I don’t think the professor is done yet. He still has to prove why Allison’s axiom is that of a tyrant.

    Next up, I bet we see Alli trying to convince her classmates to change….

  • Markus

    “Go back to bed dear, it’s in your best interest to get a full night of sleep.” -Every economists spouse when they have this nightmare

  • Hi

    a small inconsistency – the papers on Mr. Davenport’s desk aren’t there in the first panel.

  • Lostman

    Ya, but he’s asshole with a point; everyone was thinking for themselves and wanted a easy way out. Alison chose differently and therefore made the choice for everyone else.

    In this cases it one person will versus that of groups. A dictator will acted with the claim that they are doing good for the group, the group will just acted in there own best interest.

  • cyrano111

    Is there some reason my comments have not appeared, nearly a day later? I said nothing intemperate.

  • Kerlyssa

    Yeah, seriously. This does not seem like an accurate representation of student behavior, especially for something that is almost certainly an elective for them, AND within the swap n drop time limit.

  • The Elsewise

    And today I learned about a Prisoner’s dilemma.

  • dragon

    and that is the lesson he is trying to teach.

  • Demonlogan

    … More than a matter of being selfish, every other student in there won’t learn nothin’ from this class. He stated outright that Davenport would only have the black stone, and clearly stated the master rule. They aren’t even looking out for their own self-interest, they have to actively be trying to screw Davenport over at this point.
    I don’t know, maybe they stopped listening past “white is pass, black is fail,” but that also proves poor listening skills and is an accident waiting to happen.
    On the suspicious hand, though, this in itself is totally bait to get a specific reaction.

  • DJ Quinn

    “Now, Alison, you have the power to make everyone change the color of their stones, so that the outcome is fair for everyone. Will you enforce your axiom, or let your friend suffer the unfairness of the world?”

  • Arkone Axon

    I note that at least one other person DID put up a black stone. I’m curious to see what will happen next. The Professor IS a tyrant. Which means nothing can stop him from putting up the Mistress rule (“all colors shall now be inverted”), superceding the Master rule, because… who’s going to stop him? He’s here to teach, and I don’t think he’s going to punish the ones who are making the choices that, as a rationally self-interested individual, he would want to encourage in other people in the society he lives in.

  • Peter Ebbesen

    You seem to have overlooked in your argumentation that according to the previous page passing this course *IS* a prerequisite for attaining whatever major the students are seeking. Given that this is the case in the situation on hand, whether you passed or failed would hardly be irrelevant to you were you in that situation and you’d put down a single black stone just like everybody else save Alison and the designated victim for the exercise.

  • Literally no one thought of not putting out a stone?

  • 3-I

    No. We’re all in this together because HE made them do so.

  • Jimbotherisenclown

    Given the flask, his age, and his general lackadaisical attitude, I’m definitely guessing he has tenure.

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    >I have no reason to follow his instructions
    Well, you’re right, noone has any reason to obey the law.

    (wait, that’s not right. that’s not right at all.)