Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Skeptical Doggerel: "Obvious Poe"

I don't expect to run into enough of these to make a series, since I don't see much stupidity from my blogosphere fellows. But this is one phrase that annoys me.

Poe's Law pretty much says that you can't parody fundamentalists in a manner that it can't be mistaken for an actual fundamentalist: There's always a fundie crazy enough to actually believe what the parody depicts. We're a segment of the population that deals with these fundies quite often. We've seen a great deal of the width, breadth, and depth of fundamentalism.

That's why it's impossible to say someone is an "Obvious Poe": The very nature of Poe's law means that it's going to be hard to distinguish a particularly crazy fundamentalist and a parody of one. As someone who's faced off against a great number of fundie trolls, I'd like to recommend you just avoid talking about "obvious" parodies. It's okay to suspect one and give evidence, but please don't act like we're idiots because we've seen similar fundies before.


James K said...

This is symptomatic of a wider difficulty in internet discussions, the difficulty of detecting sarcasm.

Without body language or tone of voice cues it can be quite hard to distinguish deadpan sarcasm from earnest sincerity.

Valhar2000 said...

We're not calling it "Ebert's Fallacy", as PZ Myers suggested?

Roger Ebert complained bitterly when people took his creatioist rant seriously, but, indeed, he did not realize that his rant was well within the mainstream of creationism in America, no matter how idiotic it seemed to him.

Bronze Dog said...

Oops, forgot all about that.