This post is by Jesse Galef
Sorry for the lack of posting; I’ve been guest-blogging for Daniel Florien at UnreasonableFaith.com. Stop by and say hello!
I had a thought I wanted to share. In an earlier post here on FriendlyAtheist, I said that we’re not fighting against religious people, we’re fighting against the harmful memes that are infecting our society. Following the metaphor, critical thinking skills of various kinds build up a strong immune system against these mind viruses.
I started musing further in a post on UnreasonableFaith. Perhaps we can push the metaphor further: is satire a vaccine against mind viruses? Satire introduces a mostly harmless variation of craziness such that we can recognize the similarities in other forms of idiocy and resist them.
The satire has to be close enough to the real argument to be recognizable, obviously. Jon Stewart’s recent parody of Glenn Beck is a prefect example. The impersonation was definitely recognizable and Stewart exposed the faulty logical leaps and techniques that Beck is known to employ.
Some mind viruses are difficult to vaccinate against – we have trouble finding satire that doesn’t trigger the harmful effects in some people. For example, it can be too difficult to tell the difference between a satirist and a fundamentalist believer (see Poe’s Law).
How far can we push the metaphor?