Random finds: Comedy vs. anti-science
|July 26, 2014||Posted by News under Evolution, Science, Culture, News|
At Salon, Sarah Gray offers “10 amazing videos that show how humor can make a difference,”
Climate change, vaccination and evolution — each of these are things that the scientific establishment overwhelmingly agrees on. But the anti-intellectual fury of climate deniers, anti-vaxxers and creationists is such that any empirical consensus gets overshadowed.
I have a literary interest in the further development of satire. Perhaps the Salon writer is underselling the comedians by her presentation. Sorry, but people who can be funny aren’t in this kind of a dudgeon.
Humour is the cosmic banana peel. So the first law of humour is that dudgeon turns the comedian into the butt of the joke. Gray does not, for that matter, come off as a person who would know a joke if she heard one.
For better or worse, comedy has emerged as one of the most visible platforms for laying bare the insanity of anti-science reactionaries. Jon Stewart and his “Daily Show” correspondents, for example, have been scrutinizing such people for years, while John Oliver has emerged in recent months as a veritable pro-science powerhouse. Stephen Colbert has interviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson at least 10 times!
Ten times? Stewart should make the man his co-host. One wonders if he often features people who disagree with Tyson.
There’s never been a shortage of qualified experts to debunk anti-science, but few have generated the kind of heat that comedians have of late. Perhaps is the viral-friendly nature of social media, or the intrinsic advantage that satire enjoys over the cut-and-dried recitation of facts. Whatever the case, let’s take a lesson from these witty minds. Below are 10 sterling examples of comedy as an antidote to science-denialism. More.
Gray offers no evidence that comedians have generated a lot of heat in these areas, though perhaps they have.
A potent satire demands that the satirist correctly understand the position he is sending up. If he despises his opponents too much to learn what they are actually saying, he would be wise to pick another topic. Otherwise, his audience may just as well be rows of mirrors. Some comics like that kind of audience, but if they are cause-oriented, they can forget reaching folk who are not already convinced. And then they are puzzled and angry when, year by year, most polls disappoint them.
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