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Last week +Alex Knapp from Forbes wrote an article criticizing my Tesla comic. This is my response.

http://theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_response
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179 comments
 
Next up: PolitiFact fact-checks Stephen Colbert.
 
Magnanimous comeback! applause
Anybody who thinks that a serious article is required to debunk a humorous comic deserves nothing more.
 
HAHAHAHAHA!!! The rebuttal is EVEN Bettah!!!
 
I don't read Forbes, I read The Oatmeal. The only reason I read any part of the Forbes text was in The Oatmeal's response. I won't be reading Forbes in the future. But I will be reading The Oatmeal.

Along with lots of people I bet.
Mark C
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*slow clap*
 
BOO-FUCKING-HOO. Butthurt opinions and childish arguments are all I see in both Forbes' and Oatmeal's posts.
 
I wasn't surprised. Forbes = business publication, making money = Edison. Of course they would come down on his side.

And it's also another example of someone who wouldn't recognize hyperbole if it ran up and smacked its huge long erect member across his face.
 
Heheh, I've been waiting for this. As soon as I saw the Forbes article appear, I thought, "Yeah, Oatmeal's gonna have something to say about this, I'm sure!"

Well played, sir.
 
Great as always. I really enjoy your material. Thanks for helping me get through the work day.
Harold S
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Forbes writing an article nitpicking a comic.

Steve needs to get a handle on his company.
 
What could you expect from +Alex Knapp , a guy who just posts links from his own company and articles on G+, without even any comments?
 
Looks like the internet hate cold is going around.
 
Hyperbole?!? Say it isn't so! I use your material as references for my term papers.
 
Agree with the last two quotes and your takes on them (Tesla's, and Edison's) 100%.
 
+1 for the Ballmer dig.
And oh by the way, early periscopes certainly did show up on radar.
 
Forbes must be running out of things about which to write.
 
You had it right on the money when you said "Edison was not a geek; he was a CEO." Plenty of CEO's are self-serving psychopaths. Edison was certainly one of them.

It's not really surprising that someone from Forbes would stick up for Edison and try to put down Tesla. Forbes idolizes CEO psychopaths and devalues true genius at nearly every chance they get.
 
how in the name of ZEUS' THUNDERCLAPPING BUTTHOLE

I lol'd. Mathew Inman, sir, you are my hero (of sorts).
 
Edison: Genius is ten percent inspiration, ninety percent perspiration.

After his death Tesla said: ... I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labor....
 
Should add +Alex Knapp to that list on Wiki, just below Edison...

Tesla was a Fucking HERO!!!!!
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Just think-if Edison hadn't invented the lightbulb we would be watching TV by candlelight
 
Well played, Oatmeal, and hopefully your response will get just as much attention as your original article.
 
What gets me, is the possibility that most people reading Forbes will only see the article by Alex Knapp and just accept it as truth.
 
another #awesomeballs comicstrip! even as a serious subject it was funny as well as informative! Good job Edison didn't patent being a Douchebag or it'd be costing your douchey Edison love child critic a fortune! (wonder if he's noticed all his G+ alerts and spike in site traffic yet?)

 
While I agree with +Matthew Inman's general sentiment (that CEO-like dolts who act like "inventors" are fucking stupid), I do think Tesla gets quite a lot of credit in Education. He is often mentioned in electromagnetism. The SI unit for strength of a magnetic field is named in his honour! Edison is mentioned, too, of course, but I don't see his name associated with anything...
 
+Matthew Inman One question: Wasn't it Westinghouse who created the electric chair? I remember reading once that Edison said they should say they 'westinghoused' the prisoners, so as to give it bad press.
 
Bless +Alex Knapp's heart for marching into the lion's den like he did. Hopefully next time he decides to do this, he'll do a bit more research instead of using the name of +Forbes to launch a personal tirade like this against +The Oatmeal
 
Oh, nice use of the but I'm a comedian retort. Haven't seen that since John Stewart shut down Crossfire.
 
Very good response. Not that you should have needed to make one.

Nobody seems to be refuting your basic sentiment that Tesla is a far better geek/engineering poster-boy/role model.
 
How bored do you have to be at Forbes to actually dissect a comic strip? That clearly in some respects exaggerates for showmanship and comedic material? Keep up the good work Matt, been a fan of yours for awhile!
 
The only part I agree with is the "Tesla bandwagon", the rest was just darn right sad.
 
Both Oatmeal and Forbes are wrong about radar's usefulness in anti-submarine warfare.

Pre-nuclear submarines had limited mobility and endurance underwater and thus operated mostly on the surface. During the later stages of the Battle of the Atlantic, radar-equipped escorts, hunter-killer groups and aircraft forced U-Boats to operate submerged, radically diminishing their effectiveness and making them much easier prey.

So yeah, despite not being an underwater technology, radar still turned out to be fantastically useful against submarines.
 
Fuck those fucks from the "Fucks" magazine!
 
Steve Ballmer's sweaty testicles... Yup!
 
+Matthew Inman - I am very glad that you replied to this article, it was very needed. However, I don't think you should not have agreed with the response "inventions are made in the context of scientific and engineering understanding." While it is true, Edison clearly had no engineering understanding. Edison's patent stated that the carbon filament could be created using "cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways," - I hope it is obvious how ridiculous this is.

Also, considering that his patent was on using a carbon filament, and the first lightbulb used charcoal 70 years before Edison, I am not sure how he got the patent anyways.

Lastly, I am sad you did not include Tesla's opinion of Edison's work. "If he had a needle to find in a haystack he would not stop to reason where it was most likely to be, but would proceed at once with the feverish diligence of a bee, to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90% of the labor."

Edison was not an engineer, he relied solely on empirical observation.
 
People with 401ks top heavy with GE ( who profit from Edison's patents to this day ) prolly pissed you did such a good job vindicating Tesla.
 
Well, it's Forbes. Of course they'll support the douchebag that got rich over the crazy dude who did really cool shit...
 
You, sir, are a foot. Do you hear me? A FOOT! A leg-end!
 
yeah i heard that he created plasma balls that tumbled across the floor, read it in an autobiography about him. just look at his face, you can tell he did some weird mysterious things. and that's what it would look like! that thing...
 
appears your host is overloaded... destroyed by success =(
 
This is why I follow you, this was a highlight of my work day :)
 
good, good job, thanks, move on, move on ...
chapeau+
 
Hang on a second.

He says here that Tesla's cheese basically slid off the cracker by the time he was 30. That would be 1886.

He also says that Tesla stated publicly that X-rays were dangerous, and so Edison should have known better. But this declaration was in 1897.

Are we therefore blaming Edison for ignoring the advice of someone "clinically insane"?

People were drinking radioactive water under the impression that it had special health properties up until around 1932. It wouldn't surprise me at all if it wasn't generally accepted that X-rays were dangerous 30 years earlier.
 
Brilliant reply. Bang bang.
 
It's like when "real" News organizations criticize The Daily Show for their hyperbole...
 
Okay, the article and the rebuttal were interesting and worth reading and all, but frankly, I found myself constantly distracted by Alex Knapp's horrible writing and inability to match his tenses consistently through a sentence. It drove me nuts. Maybe that's just me...
 
Sadly, I never saw the original article either so that's one to look up. Elegantly remonstrated.
 
So somebody writes an article picking facts and errors, and your response is basically "Boo hoo who cares this is just a comic, it's bound to be hyperbolic, you're a loser for nitpicking, and by the way you misspelled 'use'!"?

Well, that's disappointing. From now on I'll take any claim made by Oatmeal with extreme skepticism.
 
Instead of hanging itself in the shower, your inspiration should have electrocuted itself with AC power via toaster in the bathtub to honor Mr. Edison.
 
I would say that the real douche-bag and fool in all this is the author of the comic strip. It is irrelevant whether if Tesla is an ignored genius, and Edison an undeserving demi-god, because the advancement of science and technology (barring singularities like Newton and Einstein) is invariably the product of a number of brilliant, obsessed humans.

That we raise some to hero status is a reflection of our innate psychology rather than objective truth.

It is the ultimate distortion of the spirit of discovery, and a disservice to all those who contribute to it, when a biased person with a platform plays this game of heroes and villains.
 
According to several biographies I read, this is wrong "The Oatmeal also correctly notes that Tesla did identify the dangers of X-Rays and didn’t experiment with them much."

He thought X-Rays enhance his visualization ability so he would radiate himself for hours. I remember reading that even his eyelashes would be visible on the film. Later, he noticed headaches.
He was also the first one who made a first "photo" with X-Ray, but he realized it after Roentgen published his works... it was a screw from the machine.
 
I cannot but support once again your quest for general public approval of Tesla's achievements.
Awesome effort, sir. Keep it up.
 
Your response is great until the end where you try and make the Forbes author feel bad about trying to correct facts/opinions.

Sure you're 'just' a comic, but would bash Snopes for debunking all those dumb emails and urban legends?

People should be able to have a civil(-ish) discourse. You were 100% right in your response until the end.

I still love your comics though, douche-waffle. :)
 
exaggerating for the sake of comedy is all good and well, but serving false facts, or presenting facts in a way that paints a false picture is dispacable... /unsubscribed
 
holy tl;dr. :( ..... that said they followed Modern Science most likely, and thus, were stabbing in the dark.
 
While you make some points, you end up with what is basically "I don't have to get my facts straight because I'm a humorist" for what was originally a "get-the-facts-straight" comic. Really?

And I'm even more ashamed of the level of the comments here.
 
Thomas Edison did not invent the electric light bulb. It was being used by the priests of ancient Egypt as depicted in drawings on the walls of the Temple of Hathor. This is another example of how ETs influenced and upgraded our civilization.
 
+Ruben Nielsen <- needs a sense of humor. Also, it is demonstrably true that Tesla turned into a nut, but Edison was as sane as anyone while electrocuting cats. On these points alone, we can accept, at least from the point of comedy, the Oatmeal's comic.
 
In school I used to scratch data about tesla in all the history books.

You should have added that he invented the polyphase transmission system- AC transmission systems were simply a complicated novelty until tesla invented that system... the big breakthrough IMO was the INDUCTION MOTOR!

Thats the real kicker, inducing a magnetic field sequentially with no contact points.

That alone increased the lifetime of electric motors by an almost incalculable amount... at this point an induction motor will last as long as its windings can take the heat and its bearings can handle the spin.

Tesla and Rontgen traded xrays back and forth- in fact rontgen complemented tesla on his superb picture;
"Tesla sent his images to Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen shortly after Roentgen published his discovery on November 8, 1895. Although Tesla gave Roentgen full credit for the finding, Roentgen congratulated Tesla on his sophisticated images, wondering how he had achieved such impressive results"
http://radiographics.rsna.org/content/28/4/1189.full

The guy who wrote that article needs to be in the same room as me when he insults Tesla- there are so many errors in his historical account--- That article, it pisses me off to no end.

The mistakes you made were funny- and comical.. hence totally cool... also he was working on a primitive over the horizon radar system- and he did wirelessly light the lights in his lab... also he used a single wire lighting system for fluorescent tubes (If you have a tesla coil all you have to do is run the wire down a huge row of lights to light them up. granted the spurious EM would not be nice for anyone trying to watch radio the concept is not hard to understand.)

Tesla got screwed over his entire life, I, like so many others just want to go back in time and shake to poor mans hand.
 
1. Forbes columnist bitches about a web comic.
2. Web comic writer bitches about Forbes columnist's bitching.
3. Infinite ironic loop achieved.
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When the news goes to critiquing the comedians, you know this world has gone to shit.
Keep up the good work, man.
 
Also he HAS been credited with the invention of radio control systems by most historians- look up his patents on radio control and look for the news articles on his remote control boat at the worlds fair.
 
Let this be a lesson to all: If you're thinking of critiquing a brief work that uses "douche", in one form or another, some 17 times, find something better to do.
 
Yeah, I'm gonna have to hop off the sycophant train here. I agree that you write a comic and +Forbes writes a magazine, and that there are different expectations between the two, but a lot of what you included in the comic is disingenuous. You have to be careful in helping the reader distinguish between the "hyperbolic but essentially true" statements you make and the "patently ridiculous but reinforces your point" ones. Some of the things (like the radar example) seem like hyperbole but actually depart from the truth and just serve as ammo in your Edison-bashing arsenal. Providing full disclosure might have undermined the comedy, you definitely would have kept more of my trust.

I'd also like to support +Ruben Nielsen for making a straight-faced criticism of the work, even if the comic's original intention was comedy. People who read both the comic and the article have a more complete picture than the people who just read the comic, and the article should be commended for that.
 
Do you refer to the light bulbs that are now nearly illegal in this state?
 
+Hunter Freyer Maybe it's just me, but people who think comedic bits are legitimate sources of information deserve to suffer the consequences.
 
The more I find out about Edison, the less I like him. Yeeeulkh.
 
I was going to add something about tiny-penis, Minecraft-addicted Knapp, but unfortunately I checked out his facebook and he actually looks like a really cool guy. That's what I get for doing research before I go for the jugular...
 
Dude, I haven't read that much since my last uni entrance exam. Did you put a spell or what?
 
#theoatmeal 'S response to this article is awesome. I love the style! A question I have is, who writes a critique on a comic? Comics by nature are exaggerated truths (in most cases) and are not generally 100% accurate.

#tesla is still my geek-hero.
 
From the first thing I read about edison I hated him... Maybe that's because the first thing I read about him was in a book about Tesla.
 
I appreciate you showing the article on your website. I'm always wary about these kinds of articles being nothing but nerd baiting to drive up traffic.
 
Mr Inman, once again you prove yourself both articulate and entertaining. Who next shall you deify/demonize?
P.S.
chirp
 
"Pick a side, praise your heroes, demonize the other side."

If that's the way you're taking things, don't go into hysterics when people are on the other side, demonizing yours.

Personally, I find Edison's quote about sales and utility just as inspiring as Tesla's. If anything, making new gadgets affordable and accessible is the real underrated work. Cellphones and the internet realized only a small fraction of their potential until people figured out how to make them cheap enough for everyone. We might develop a cure for malaria, but until someone devises a way to get it into the dirt-poor areas of Africa, it's not going to change much. And we already know how to theoretically build manned spacecraft, large spacestations, and even a space station... we need is inventors focused on making these practical enough to try.
 
I agree with much of what you say; however, you are too vulgar for me to +1 or share. Tesla was a great man. Your response makes me want to retch!
 
I'm confused. You chastise Edison for using his power as a scientist to influence people, but then use your own power as a well known comedian to launch an attack on this pecky little article? I smell a hypocrite
 
The pecky little article was the actual attack. Mathew defending his comic was a response. That's not hypocrisy, that's a basic right.
 
Dear Sir, I'd never even heard of the Oatmeal, but upon seeing this I'd like to say you have one more follower <3.
 
and it's a pesky little article from some folks you may have heard of called FORBES
 
Could not agree more! Tesla is an awesome geek!
 
Uh, I'm not sure Alex represents Forbes as much as people think he does... It says "Forbes Staff". I guess they pay him to blog on their site? Anyway, I'm sure he's enjoying the free publicity.
 
Tesla v Edison....one is a brilliant genius, the other a persistent beancounting investor. No contest. If you don't know Tesla, you ain't shut.
 
I read both articles and couldn't agree more. Tesla was and still to this day is an unsung hero. But then again History is written by the victors not by those who helped change the world.
 
Your reply was pretty childish and a disgrace to all things Tesla. Tesla, would have just said something complimentary to the author and let it be.
 
good line to end the rebuttal. Just curios, which camp would you put Steve Jobs in ? If you think he is the new age edison, please find the tesla of the last 30 years and do a second edition :)
 
Edison = Apple, Tesla = Google.
 
As I wrote in a G+ post linking your response:

A little poetic justice after all these decades: Both Tesla and Edison had units named after them. Teslas are the SI standard units of magnetic flux density (kg / (A * s ^ 2). Edisons are a deprecated unit, completely useless, you've never heard of, and not part of SI: an edison is 100 amps.

The thing that gets me about all this is how much Edison resembles Gates or Ballmer, and Tesla resembles Wozniak sans interest in music. If Tesla had a Steve Jobs, Edison would have had a much rougher time of it.

Fuck Edison. Peace out.
 
This was awesome!!! Thanks so much for posting. I definitely did not learn about Nikola Tesla in highschool. I learned about him first from the rock band Tesla and was inspired to investigate the true story by the song "Edison's Medicine".
I am going to subscribe to The Oatmeal right now :)
 
+Tom Garske Actually, you've stumbled on why patents are for protecting businessmen and not inventors. While the patent office prefers a patent cover an existing, working system or device, there is no rule limiting a patent's claims to just what was built. So in practice it's a land grab: you claim everything you can that's barely tangentially related to your invention. The worst that will happen is some of your claims get denied, but you can't sue over a claim you didn't make. So even if certain filament types were stupid or substandard, you claimed them anyway so you could sue for royalties.

Something related happened to the Wright brothers: their patents on the airplane covered control by means of wing warping. So another inventor, Mr. Curtiss, invented the alternate system of movable control surfaces to get around the patent. Control surfaces are the standard method to this day, though some attempts have been made to bring back wing warping with piezoelectric and similar materials.
 
Oh THANK YOU, there is a fantastic game at Dave and Buster's named Hyper Bowl and I've been trying to remember what the name of it was for weeks. lololol
 
As Edison invented the light bulb, David Hassellhofff (I don't know and don't care how his name is spelled) invented the shirtless look and red panties.
Nothing against them. Both made loads of money and fucked loads of people and animals. Both famous and inteligint pipol.
Also, check if Alex gets some cash of Edison foundation or something. Calling a businessman inventor is beyond me. You build a solid wall of lie using couple true particles. Even though the true particles gloat on that wall, it is still a wall of lie. Let's learn to go around those walls and not try to climb over.(Bit of cheddar in my comment gives bit of a flavour. I would like to think)
 
Problem with making a pedantic comment regarding a typo is that you have to be ultra-careful yourself: "...x-ray radation was DANGEROUS..."
 
Great retort! There are too many of these "I am writing for a major magazine therefore everyone else is dumb" journalists in this world and we need to do something about their egos (and writing ability) before they combine to form the Devastator of idiotic group-think.
 
+Matthew Inman The Forbes article reminds me of when Tucker Carlson went head-to-head against Jon Stewart, who bashed his head in with the "I Do Comedy, Dumbass" bat.
 
Kinda like how petty it is to seriously attempt to compare a comedy article to real life?

Like what Forbes did?

Yeah, The comedian is the childish one...

That's like screaming "Well, You are a **!" in debate class when you are losing...

Hey, I hear cracked has some articles that Forbes can bash next... They are FULL of inaccuracies!
 
"So did Tesla invent radar, like The Oatmeal claims? Nope. He pitched an idea, but never developed a prototype. That said, a lot of his work did become the backbone for radar research in the 1930s, but there was a lot of work done between Tesla’s work and the eventual development of radar. Tesla pointed the way, but there was a long road that had to be dug out of the jungle."

It sounds awfully as if he's trying to say... that Tesla invented radar and other people improved upon the design along the way. Golly gosh, where have we heard that argument before...
 
Here's what I got out of it:

1.) Why would a Forbes reporter bother writing about a snarky comic written by a snarky Comedian?
2.) Snarky comics are biased and given to hyperbole (not unlike some Forbes article I've read).
3.) Why would you bother to critique a critique? Your comic was awesomely awesome by itself. Unwittingly your efforts you caused a Forbes writer to do some actual research (who know how far he went? really? did he just visit wikipedia or did he go to the library?)
4.) I'm really unsure here... exactly how "bat-shit crazy" was Tesla and at which point should the establishment have listen to his ideas? If a pigeon loving lunatic started suggesting to me that I needed to floss more often, I might not take it to heart. Of course, he invented the electric toothbrush... or at least idea behind it.
 
It seems like all Forbes does is bitch inaccurately about everything.
 
Must have been a slow news period for Forbes.
 
It seems more and more people are misinterpreting what they read and hear because they don't understand the context or style of the piece. This instance is only the most recent. Anyone who has read The Oatmeal would understand that it doesn't put out dry, show-your-work, peer-reviewed-and-editor-approved academic journal articles.

Regardless of hair-splitting, the sentiment of the piece is perfectly accurate. It's accurate in the same way The Jungle was accurate when it was first published, even if Sinclair "hit the stomach" when he "aimed for the heart." It's accurate in the same way The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was accurate when it was first released, regardless of the fact that nobody seemed to know the definition or connotation of the word "monologue."

I guess people have forgotten that artists use lies to tell the truth.
 
You missed something important in your response.

"Dally would have probably ended his days a beggar in the street."
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-> This just about sums up where Tesla ended up.
Also where Edison refused to pay him for his work.
 
I wasn't expecting a response that detailed and factual. Well done.
 
It has been probably said, but... Isn't Forbes a magazine about CEO's for CEO's? Well, of course one of their writers would stand up for Thomas Alva 'Douchebag' Edison.
 
How hard up for something to write about does a Forbes staff writer have to be to go after a comic? He didn't even do his homework before he bashed Matthew. He should be stripped of his abacus. What's he got against Tesla? Is he related to Edison?
 
+Matthew Inman I think you need to admit that you are out classed on this one. As you point out, you are a comedian not a journalist. It is correct and fair for comedy to be fact checked when misconceptions are involved. Your defensive counter-counter-points are weak and uninteresting; you come off as "butt hurt" rather than funny or intelligent. This surprised me considering that +Alex Knapp took the time to praise your work and was cautious in his criticism.

Keep up the good work, even if people get all snarky over it.
 
I'm with Matt on this one. I made it a point to read the entire Forbes article (to form my own opinion) before I went back to read Matt's comments. Knapp basically laid out a huge, long, well-written "you're not 100% correct on all accounts, so I'm going to try to make you look stupid on the internet".. You see this kinda shit on forums a lot, and it disgusts me.
 
Killing puppies and kittens to misrepresent a competitor's goods is a confirmation of psychopathic behavior. Sadly, such people are extremely overrepresented in the nation's boardrooms and executive suites.
 
+Mahesh RS, you actually SERIOUSLY think that DC is superior to AC for power transfer? Have you ever tried changing the voltage of a DC supply? Not easy. Generating one? Also quite hard. Transmitting it efficiently? Damn near impossible, you have to site power stations no more than a mile from where the electricity needs to be.
They are as dangerous as each other, but DC will provide a constant movement of ions (electrolysis) that would render fluorescent lighting impossible, as you get a build-up at either end. Now imagine that in a body. The only real issue with AC (apart from the standard "fuck-ton-of-energy-being-pumped-into-a-person" issue is that certain frequencies can cause the heart to lose its coordination. Of course, this isn't really an issue, as the energy in both should be enough to kill a man. I actually survived a shock of 220-240V 50Hz AC with no long term and negligible short term effects, I only blacked out for less than a second. I've never tried a similar voltage DC, but I doubt you can easily get that high...
 
So much common sense in this response - Forbes should be embarrassed. Especially for criticizing a comic work based on truth for semantics and exacting accuracy. Sad! This response was a beautiful reminder.
 
still laughing over the "last bit of cheese has slid off his cracker" by then.. LOLZ
 
point remains that we are "overcharged" for energy
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