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This conspiracy theory of sorts is either supported or refuted, depending on your point of view, by the fact that he ran for office in five Kansas Democratic primary elections. He never won. Poe's law applies not only to the absurdity of beliefs, but also to the absurdity of the arguments that are used on behalf of those beliefs.
Arguments on behalf of young-Earth creationism and theodicy are especially known for their absurdity. The absurd simple and obvious non-sequitur and circular logic therein that God is good because he is the god gives one the impression that that argument is intended as a humorous parody of Christians, but in fact that argument was made by a few actual insane Christians. It is important to note that: linking a claim to Poe's Law is not the same as suggesting that said claim is in fact any type of parody at all.
On the contrary, linking to Poe's Law just means that you could not tell if said claim was parody, or indeed sincerely held crankiness — assuming the original claimant didn't decide to also supply a clear indication of intent. When one is presented with a claim that is so over-the-top as to either be a brilliant parody or reflect a genuinely outrageous extremist belief, Poe's Law has been invoked. Poe's Law was formulated by Nathan Poe in August These were usually followed by at least one user starting a flame war a series of angry and offensive personal attacks thinking it was a serious post and taking it at face value.
Nathan Poe summarized this pattern in his original formulation of the law:. The law caught on and has since slowly leaked out as an Internet meme.
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Over time it has been extended to include not just creationist parody but any parody of extreme ideology, whether religious , secular , or totally bonkers. Although Nathan Poe's version is the one that has become canon, there are two earlier sightings of the same idea floating around Usenet from "back in the day". An example of Poe's law in action is Navy Bean's Amazon. One real world example of Poe's Law is North Korea, where it is unknown how many actually believe the propaganda and historical revisionism , and how many are faking it out of fear.
For example, not only can Poe's Law apply to extreme fundamentalism, but it can also apply to extreme liberalism, extreme charitableness, extreme fanboyism, extreme environmentalism, or even extreme love. The most likely reason for this expansion is the tendency for people to "call Poe's Law" see below under "Reception and usage" on any fundamentalist rant even before someone has responded negatively.
After a while, when many sincere posts were called "Poe's Law", or when every parody got labeled "Poe's Law", the concept naturally expanded. The actual canonical definition has not changed to encompass the expanded usage, and a true Poe's Law fundamentalist could object to its usage beyond the original concept.
On the other hand, the objection itself could be parody. In this context, a Poe refers to either a person, post, or news story that could cause Poe's Law to be invoked. In most cases, this is specifically in the sense of posts and people who are taken as legitimate, but are probably parody.
Hence a typical phrase would be "it's a Poe, guys, don't be so stupid" when a link to Landover Baptist Church or ChristWire is posted. A similar use is "I hope this is a Poe" to refer to the desperate hope that humanity isn't quite as stupid as what someone has just read. The main corollary of Poe's Law refers to the opposite phenomenon, where a fundamentalist sounds so unbelievable that rational people will honestly think the fundamentalist is presenting a parody of his beliefs. Such a thing isn't entirely unprecedented — Ray Comfort now uses his " banana argument " as a comedy routine that pokes fun at intelligent design claiming that it had always been satirical.
Poe's Corollary was submitted to the Urban Dictionary in July This has had dangerous consequences with mass shooters Elliot Rodger and Brenton Harrison Tarrant regularly broadcasting their intent to do harm and even detailed plans for attacks on many websites. Poe's corollary allowed them to hide in plain sight among trolls and edgelords.
Poe's law can apply to sexual fetishism as well as parody.
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For instance, some people are attracted to Nazis , or aroused by dressing up and acting like a Nazi themselves. Such individuals are not actually neo-Nazis , but easily mistaken for them. If the similarity was not close enough, then the Nazi-imitation wouldn't be as effective for the fetishist. Sometimes, the same group may include both true-believers in fascism and those who only wear jackboots to get their jollies; there was an all- gay neo-Nazi group in the s whose leader appeared to be sincere, but the group primarily recruited from among the leather subculture for whom Nazi uniforms would have an obvious sexual appeal.
The late conservative activist David Yeagley was known for the particularly florid denunciations of homosexuality he wrote on his website. A number of his critics claimed that he was a closeted gay man himself and that for him, homophobia was a kink; one suggested that he was actually masturbating when he wrote those articles. Similar claims have been made about anti-gay pastors in general, and Fred Phelps in particular. The alt-right uses homoerotic imagery and sexually explicit rhetoric derived from pornography such as the term " cuck ". Because of Poe's 34 th Law, it's hard to tell whether or not they get boners from writing that stuff.
The Poe Paradox is a further corollary to Poe's Law that results from an unhealthy level of paranoia. It states that:. The term was first used by RationalWiki editor and now respected blogger The Lay Scientist to describe an apparent paradox in the management of editing rights at Conservapedia ; .
LaMarre, Kristen D. Landreville and Michael A. Beam, investigators at the Ohio State University School of Communication, found evidence supporting Poe's Law in a study published in The study participants then viewed clips from The Colbert Report , a television show that is a parody of conservative news commentary shows such as The O'Reilly Factor and broadcast on the Comedy Central cable network. The researchers found that the relatively conservative people in their study reported that the star of the show, Stephen Colbert , was actually showing disregard for liberals and covertly expressing his true conservative attitude about the matter at hand.
Liberals viewing the show tended to view the work as a sincere parody and to not view Mr. Colbert as presenting his true political opinions. Curiously, the liberal and conservative viewers in the study found Mr. Colbert similarly humorous no statistically significant difference.
While not a direct or intentional test of Poe's Law, the results fit well with the predictions it makes. Although not specifically about fundamentalism or extreme opinions, parody and satirical articles have frequently been mistaken for real things. This perhaps proves that even with the winking smiley things can be misinterpreted.
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