xkcd Comic Pokes Fun at Seeing the Golden Ratio in Random Photographs


xkcd‘s latest comic, titled “Flowcharts,” is a tongue-in-cheek take on the concept of the golden ratio (or golden spiral) in photography. It’s a flow chart in which one of the steps reads: “Do you like when people find the golden spiral in random images?” If you choose “yes” from there, you’re taken on a golden ratio journey that magically fits the design of the chart.

Here’s how explain xkcd explains this:

The title text and the faint image of a golden spiral parody the fact that the golden spiral is superimposed on nearly everything. The golden spiral is a spiral that has the growth rate of the golden ratio, a number that has inspired both artists and mathematicians alike. However, people try to find the golden ratio in seemingly random objects, and they fall to confirmation bias when drawing a golden spiral on top that seemingly fits.

When you click the comic on the xkcd site, you’re presented with a number of random photographs in which Randall Munroe (the guy behind the webcomic) found the golden ratio:





Bill Gates Reclining on Desk

Flowcharts [xkcd via Reddit]