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Proof By Intimidation

A friend recommended the following XKCD cartoon to me:

It was a good recommendation, partly because I like nearly any nerdy math joke. It also brought back some memories. One of my old grad school teachers was fond of that phrase. At the beginning of one of the classes, he went over some things that he talked about in the last lecture, for the purpose of making them clearer. He grinned and said "This is proof by repetition." Then his grin became a bit more devilish and he added "If that doesn't work, I will use proof by intimidation".

As much as I love XKCD, I think my old professor made better use of the phrase. He clearly meant that the students were the ones intimidated. The teacher in the cartoon seems to be intimidating abstract elements in a set, which doesn't make as much sense.

That said XKCD has a very amusing pop-up descriptor for the cartoon that you can't see here. You should go to the original post at