Saturday, May 09, 2009

Woos and Humor

Is it just me, or do woos have no sense of humor? I know that some of it's probably biased sampling, since I mostly end up dealing with woos when they're being antagonistic. When they do attempt to make jokes, though, I never see the humor in it.

One possibility that comes to mind involves something my brother often said on the subject of humor: It's often based on logical fallacies. The punchline of many a joke ends with someone missing the point, or a reveal that only makes sense if you change your assumptions.

"A man walks into a bar. He says, 'Ouch!'"

This one deals with equivocation and a change in expectation from pattern recognition. First, in interpreting the word "bar", most people understand it to be an establishment that sells alcoholic drinks because many jokes begin with people walking into one as the start of an anecdote. This joke's humor is in the subversion of that expectation via equivocation that changes the definition of 'bar' to a rod.

All that for a very simple joke. The inability of many woos to identify logical fallacies seems like a likely candidate for their lack of humor. Combine this with one belief of mine: That humor requires at least a grain of truth, and the woos' inability to interpret what they see doesn't contribute.

I've seen some pretty bad examples of woo humor, including bad glurge. One particularly nasty example came from Dane Cook, who is not funny. He essentially told an anecdote about an atheist getting poetic about "coming back" as a tree after his body decays. He then goes on a vicious diatribe, fantasizing that the tree gets chopped down and made into the paper for bibles. His manner of saying this "joke" and the cheering fundies of the crowd left a feeling of savage bloodlust in the air.

Dude, not funny.

17 comments:

MWchase said...

I wonder what kind of humor homeopaths have about 'allopaths'. I mean, I imagine it would be something like... Um... damn. Jokes require subverted expectations, and there's no situation outide of medicine where I can imagine a homeopath applying homeopathic principles, at least not consistently. (Hair of the dog is the only example I can think of. Is there any preference for that idea over black coffee among homeopaths, does anybody know?)

King of Ferrets said...

I always interpreted that one as a different version of walk into rather than bar, with the guy hitting the wall of a bar.

Rhoadan said...

Oh heck, I pictured the guy walking into the counter where the bartender serves the drinks.

MWchase said...

I think you meant a different version of "into"? Anyway, I admit I haven't really noticed this. Anybody have examples of 'jokes' from woos, so we have something specific to discuss?

Valhar2000 said...

Perhaps this will do the job:

http://jokesaboutatheists.com/

Interestingly, the jokes I find funniest in there say a lot more about theists than they do about atheists (like the one about 17000 atheists rioting over the depiction of nothing in a newspaper cartoon strip).

MWchase said...

For the sake of pedantry, I must point out that the Sidney Harris cartoon there is making a joke about scientists and mathematicians, not atheists or theists.

I may be close to the epitome of that joke, because it feels faster for me to do calculations in my head, and so... I'm a miracle-worker!

Infophile said...

Thank you for that link, Valhar. I think that actually gives us very good insight for how we appear to many religious people, and hopefully it could help us frame our arguments better. For instance, when discussing nativity scenes, we should make it clear that we object to the government displaying them, not them being in public view. For that matter, the government really has little business publicly displaying pornography, either. Of course, there are exceptions to both. The government could present the nativity scene as one of many displays on various cultural beliefs, or in an educational context. Pornography could similarly be presented in an educational context as part of sex ed. (Even abstinence only. Porn + right hand makes abstinence a ton easier.)

James K said...

The woos we come into contact with on a regular basis tend to be fanatics. That's why they come to our blogs and debate us on our ground. One of the key indicators of fanatacism is a lack of a sense of humour, at least on the subject they are fanatical about.

I therefore suggest your observation is due to selection bias. No doubt the true believers say the same about us.

Valhar2000 said...

James could very well be right. IN fact, a lot of my friends and acquaintances are woos, when I think about it; they are just not fanatical about it. And they do have a sense of humour.

Valhar2000 said...

MWChase:

I though so too; I have no idea what that cartoon is doing in a page dedicated to jokes about atheists.

It's an excellent cartoon, certainly.

Tom Foss said...

Thanks for the link, Valhar2000. It inspired me.

Dark Jaguar said...

I'm not sure all humor needs even a grain of truth. Look at Ren and Stimpy. That's just insane.

James K said...

Yeah but stiff like is completely orthogonal to truth. Whereas some of the atheist jokes are actually based on misconceptions. There's a subtle but important difference there.

Akusai said...

I think the difference is that topical humor, broadly defined, needs to be based on something true, whereas absurdity, like Monty Python, does not.

MWchase said...

Man, Monty Python... Am I weird for just completely accepting whatever happens? In Spamalot, when they started singing about Jews and Broadway, I was just like, "Okay".

Anyway...

I'm not quite sure what the implications of the "open-minded" one are supposed to be. Are Buddhists more open-minded because Buddhism is frequently combined with other religions?

King of Ferrets said...

I really need to see Spamalot at some point.

Dark Jaguar said...

What a perfect thread title. Are you familiar with New Kids on the Rock, starring Neil Cicierega, the king of all internets?

You should love this:

http://www.hollywoodeasttv.com/video/ryan-murphy-psychic-friend