Epic Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s difficult to be so over-the-top people realize you aren’t serious. I’d like to show an example.

Earlier today, I saw a tweet which said:

I found this tweet disturbing. Presumably, if climate skeptics are real threats, we need real solutions to deal with them. That gives the image of some dictatorial, dystopian society where people with certain views are harrassed and oppressed. My normal response to such a disturbing idea is to make light of it with sarcastic remarks, such as:

My hope was anyone who hears we need to “eliminate” a group “with extreme prejudice” would realize how stupid an idea that is. To make the absurdity of the position more obvious, when asked what solution I’d recommend, I suggested:

This silly remark was a throwback to one of my earlier posts where I “proved,” using methods accepted by the climate science community, global warming advocates support genocide. The post was part of a demonstration (whose full writeup is here) that global warming advocates will endorse utterly idiotic methodologies if those methodologies produce results they like.

To make the absurdiy of my remark more obvious, I followed it up with three more tweets:

I thought it’d be obvious I was being facetious when I said I support the idea of killing every human on the planet. It wasn’t. Some people thought I was serious. To show them I wasn’t, I decided to be even more over-the-top, tweeting things like:

And:

It didn’t help. People took these tweets as serious statements too. I considered trying to be even more absurd. I decided against it when I realized there was likely nothing I could say which would be absurd enough to make people realize I was being facetious.

Instead, I alerted people of the sarcasm. Afterward, one person tweeted:

After reading this, I decided “epic sarcasm” is where one is as sarcastic as can possibly be yet sounds indistinguishable from the people he or she is mocking. After giving this idea some thought, I decided:

There is no degree of absurdity great enough to be distinguishable from the actual idiocy of the world.

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4 comments

  1. Poe’s Law: “Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.”

  2. Brandon, back in Sept in response to your post on sociopaths I said “Twitter irritates me. It’s mostly a means of shouting fire in a virtual crowded theater just to see who will stampede.”

    Back then you disagreed with me, but dude, you’re makin’ my point.

    For irritating people, sarcasm is a great tool, Unlabeled sarcasm is a sharpened tool. It not only irritates; it confuses. What’s the point of lowering the signal to noise ratio unless you just want to provoke? It’s schoolyard stuff.

    /rant

  3. Gary, anyone who has followed my Twitter stream would have immediately realized my tweets were not serious. My hope is those people who failed to realize such will now learn a lesson and think a little more before jumping to conclusions. If so, that’s valuable, and it may, to some small extent, increase the ability of people to discern a signal amongst the noise.

    I don’t know if you know it, but some time back, I posted under an alt at Judith Curry’s blog for much of the same purpose. That alt, named Vague Genie, made comments which were intentionally open to interpretation. The purpose behind the alt was to make comments which could be interpreted in exact opposite ways, just like my tweets here were. The point was to have fun and highlight the silliness in which people can interpret the same words in the exact opposite ways.

    A lot of my activity on blogs is just an attempt to clarify things. I believe the world is greatly improved when people understand what each other think and why they think it, I think that’s true even if they continue to disagree despite reaching such an understanding. I don’t think people need to agree with one another, but I think disagreement is generally pointless if there is no understanding along with it.

    .

    But really, my main problem with what you said is this sort of thing is the exception on Twitter. Most of my activity, and most of the activity of the people I follow, is nothing like this. It’s pretty easy to avoid most “trollish” behavior on Twitter, and if you do, Twitter can be a great resource.

  4. The James OKeefe videos look like an attempt to be as ridiculous as possible. “We’re bringing in underage girls as prostitutes. We need documents.’ ‘We are donating this money to help bring sharia law to America.’ ‘We want to keep our monopoly on oil and so will support your anti-fracking campaign.’

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