# A Lesson In Venn Diagrams… And Who Gets Paid To Touch Your Junk

### from the deconstructing-a-joke dept

Recently on Reddit, a link to a “Venn diagram” about “people paid to touch your junk” got pretty popular (even though it was apparently a repeat post of one that didn’t get nearly as popular. You can see it here:

The image then got plenty of attention with links from a variety of much bigger sites that I’m not going to mention, and it seemed to get a good chuckle out of folks who have been following the whole TSA/junk touching situation.

Well, that is unless you actually understand what a Venn diagram is supposed to show. Those people were somewhat horrified.

Rich Skrenta points us to an absolutely hilarious deconstruction of the problems with this graphic and how it’s not actually an accurate Venn diagram at all written by Andrew Plotkin. As he notes, the overlapping parts of circles on a Venn diagram are supposed to include both sets. In other words, if those three original sets formed a Venn diagram like the one above, the real categorization would be as following:

You have to imagine that the set of “airport-guarding hookers with medical degrees,” is somewhat small. Or non-existent in all likelihood. So if we were to draw the chart above to scale, there likely would be almost no overlap between any of the three circles.

As Plotkin then points out, what the original creator of the diagram meant for the diagram to show, is that all three of those professions are paid to touch your junk — and thus a more accurate — but not at all funny nor understandable, version of the Venn diagram would be the following:

I might quibble with that one a bit, seeing as not all TSA agents or doctors are necessarily paid to touch your junk (and I guess there could be a tiny subset of prostitutes who aren’t either, but I can’t imagine that’s a very large number), but still, the overall point is there. Though, um, it’s not funny. Or really all that understandable.

So, if you wanted to create a Venn diagram that actually makes the same point (sorta) and does it without being the mess above, what would you do? Well, Plotkin comes to the rescue again with the following:

Plotkin then goes on to do a few more diagrams and teach folks a bit about how Venn diagrams are supposed to work — which is totally worth checking out as well.

They say that if you have to deconstruct a joke, you’ve probably ruined it, but if that joke contains a Venn diagram, and that Venn diagram is wrong, but still becomes popular with people claiming it’s an accurate Venn diagram, suddenly that deconstruction can be a lot funnier than the original. Kudos to Plotkin for breaking it down…

Filed Under: , , ,

## Comments on “A Lesson In Venn Diagrams… And Who Gets Paid To Touch Your Junk”

Designerfx (profile) says:

# article

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

# Actually....

“suddenly that deconstruction can be a lot funnier than the original.”

The funniest part of this for me was a bunch of math whizzes taking affront to an innacurate venn diagram rather than just letting the innaccurate joke go by.

I don’t know why that’s funny to me, but it is….

scarr (profile) says:

# The third diagram is incorrect too

“Medical security guards” and “Strumpet MDs” are switched.

Anonymous Coward says:

i thought you were a male until i read this. only a female could take something small and funny and blow it out of proportion. I realize wrestling is fake but jesus christ do you have to bring it up.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

# Re:

“I realize wrestling is fake”

….WHAT!!!???!

scarr (profile) says:

# The third diagram is incorrect too

Reading the original post, Plotkin corrected this. He also made a Firefly reference, so he’s ok in my book.

Anonymous Coward says:

Seriously, I like the first venn diagram better. Forget this necessity to be “correct” and following an exact methodology, just keep it simple and understandable.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

# Re:

Next he is going to tell us Santa, Satan , and the easter bunny are not real …

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

# Re:

Santa’s real. I’ve met him…

Ben (profile) says:

# Pink circle for Blue Gloves?

In the last Venn diagram, shouldn’t the “People who wear blue latex gloves” be the blue circle? I mean really, Plotkin, get it right!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

# Re:

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

# Re:

“Santa’s real. I’ve met him…”

Damn it, Lobo, for the LAST TIME: just because you sit on a guy’s lap and he smiles at you does NOT make him Santa….

Anonymous Coward says:

# Actually....

“a bunch of math whizzes taking affront to an innacurate venn diagram rather than just letting the innaccurate joke go by.”

I have that problem when I watch movies that make unreasonable leaps, ruins them for me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Its a banner day. Techdirt had a post I laughed at and enjoyed. I must be dreaming.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

# Re:

“Its a banner day. Techdirt had a post I laughed at and enjoyed. I must be dreaming.”

Ha ha. Pink Swaztika. That’s awesome….

Anonymous Coward says:

I feel like the (your nightmare) should be “Germophobic Whores” or something.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

# Re:

No no no!

I met Santa during the summer while I was working at Circus Circus in Las Vegas.

Angry Puppy (profile) says:

# Re:

Coises (profile) says:

# A much simpler way to correct the original diagram

Prostitutes -> Characteristics of Prostitutes
Doctors -> Characteristics of Doctors
TSA Agents -> Characteristics of TSA Agents

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

# Re:

My mother tells me Santa is Catholic….so yes.

Coises (profile) says:

# A much simpler way to correct the original diagram

And, since we?re being picky, also rewrite the three two-set intersections as:

Make more per hour touching your junk than you make all day
Require very little training to touch your junk
Wear blue latex gloves while touching your junk

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

# Re:

No. I was working one of the carnival games–one of the impossible to win ones.

He won the largest possible prize in 5 minutes flat and in less than a dozen steps from the game I was working had delighted a young lady by giving her the prize he’d won.

He was wearing slacks and a white button-down shirt; but there was no mistaking the guy.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

# Re:

I’m confused. When did he begin diddling you?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

There’s quite a lot of “incorrect” Venn Diagrams like the original out there – to the point that it has basically become an accepted format for a joke.

Anonymous Coward says:

That is a really long way to go for something that has extremely limits lulz. It wasn’t that good on the original site, and didn’t get any better here.

Christopher Weigel (profile) says:

So… why not just stop calling it a Venn Diagram? It’s a fully functional graphic aside from that point.

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re:

Dear Mike C.
Santa doesn’t exist.

Wikileaks

Anonychemist says:

# Chemistry quibble to add to the fray

Now that the math has been cleaned up, how about the chemistry?
Blue gloves would most likely be nitrile rubber, not latex…

Michael (profile) says:

# Wrong again

The original is an accurate Venn diagram. The labels within overlapping areas are simple not exhaustive.

Greg says:

Those blue gloves are not latex, they are nitrile.

McNix (profile) says:

# Expansion:

A fourth subset? (Or a TSA sub-subset);

Don’t some airports employ dogs to ‘Touch Your Junk’ should necessity arise?

vivaelamor (profile) says:

# Actually....

“The funniest part of this for me was a bunch of math whizzes taking affront to an innacurate venn diagram rather than just letting the innaccurate joke go by.”

I’m guessing they had more fun deconstructing the diagram than you did looking at the original..

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re:

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

# Wrong again

I’m not sure you’re right about that

Jose_X (profile) says:

# Whoops

Except that the original diagram was essentially correct.

Venn Diagrams cover sets of things, but a thing can be a “property of a thing” as well.

In other words, each circle doesn’t have to refer to people.

For example, the three circles can each have elements that represent, respectively, “properties of prostitutes”, “properties of doctors”, and “properties of TSA agents”.

And then we’d label these using short-hand: “prostitutes”, “doctors”, and “tsa agents” rather than using the more accurate longer text.

This is why most people will see the original diagram and understand what is being described, because in fact it is a correct association but with the figure labeled a bit tersely.

Also, the universe set (that name that appears on the lower right corner of the surrounding box) would more accurately be labeled “properties of people”.

Note, by “properties” I mean “characteristics” or “features” and not “items owned”. See definition 4 here http://www.thefreedictionary.com/property

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venn_diagram

Jose_X (profile) says:

# Re:

Yup, as explained in a different comment, the original is essentially correct.

To see what I mean, replace “Doctors” with “Characteristics of Doctors” and repeat the replacement pattern for the other sets as well.

Jose_X (profile) says:

# Wrong again

See the other comments about replacing the simplified set name “X” with “Characteristics of X”

Then, Michael’s comment will make sense since there is more than simply 1 item in each of the overlapping regions. Eg, another characteristic of all 3 professions is that they “are practiced by people who almost always have two arms and two legs”, yet that characteristic is not represented.

Of course, we can fix that as well by replacing “X” with “Representative Characteristics of X”.

[I think a similar disease to what led that other group to want to correct the first diagram explains why I keep posting this “correction of correction” over and over on this thread.]

btr1701 (profile) says:

# Re:

> only a female could take something small and funny and blow
> it out of proportion

You should really refrain from commenting on your personal life in a public forum.

CarlS says:

What do Hookers and TSA Workers have in common? Well, TSA workers have apparently taken money to touch other people’s sex organs …… Isn’t that the definition of prostitution?