Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Poe's law

Today I discovered that there is an internet "law" about the similarities between parody and fundamentalism (of any sort): Poe's law. I had to look it up (here) because I couldn't quite figure out from the context what it meant. My main problem was that I was thinking in terms of Edgar Allan Poe, but that turns out not to be the right Poe. :-)

Anyway, here is the law:

"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

The opposite effect is known as Poe's corollary (although it is generally just subsumed under the broad mantle of Poe's law):

It is impossible for an act of Fundamentalism to be made that someone won't mistake for a parody.

Some conservative reactions to the Colbert Show illustrate Poe's Law in action; some of the current proposals for the United States return to the gold standard (or even gold coinage) fall under the corollary.




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