26 February 2009

Poe's Law

Yesterday, I saw a comment following a posting about Stoning in Islam that read as follows (copied and pasted verbatim):

Dear ,Brother
the emobreoilded allegation by some ignorants to Islam Quran that ; the stoning the adoltery (Rajum Alzani wa l Zaniyah)in fact these brutial canons do only apply in the jewish and christians manuscripts the Turah & the Gospel ,Providentialy We Muslims simply dont have these canon or what so ever Quranic verses revelation stating to stoning the adoltery, even there is no any Quranic verse stating that our beloved compassionat pious Prophet Moahmed has ever ordered to stone someone to death, we all are aware this is a canon must emerged from the Quranic law, according the Quran , the only canonical verses the issues of the adoltery is (Q, 24.1-4) the woman and man guilty of adultery falog each of them a hundered stripes without any compassion in their case matter prescriped by Allah faith, if you truly believe in Allah and the last day and let some of the believers to witness their punishment . plus according to the Sunnah canon its very strict and almost impossible to prove that, two people are commited adultery by a third part(Q.24-4) so the case dissmiss, dont tell me about the Hadith bring me a prove from the Quran I am sure thats so-called hadith of the jewish Woman been stone to death its completly false Hadith, come on Muslims wake up how come on earth our beloved pious Prophet have his own Canon proceed in a deferent Jewish canons, we all know that the final definitive pious prophet Mohamed peace be upon him, canonical oreders abrogated all the pious prophets that been send before him.

peace & love regards to all
Abdulla Mahir .

I wrote a followup comment:
The last comment provides, quite eloquently, a rational and logical explanation of stoning. I’m afraid that none of us know the scriptures well, neither can we ever know them, for they are, as witnessed from the above, written in arabic. I’m afraid we may have missed several important points, precisely those that have been outlined above for our benefit. In view of this, you may wish to consider rewriting your post.
My fellow blogger Michael of http://anadder.com did not immediately catch the sarcasm of it and explained:
Then again Poe’s Law can make it very hard to pass of mockery of religion as sarcasm (at least on the net)…:)
So I wondered what Poe's Law is because I had not encountered the terminology before. And here is what the Urban Dictionary says:
Poe's Law
Similar to Murphy's Law, Poe's Law concerns internet debates, particularly regarding religion or politics.

"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."

In other words, No matter how bizzare, outrageous, or just plain idiotic a parody of a Fundamentalist may seem, there will always be someone who cannot tell that it is a parody, having seen similar REAL ideas from real religious/political Fundamentalists.
The following is an actual Internet post to Biblically defend a flat Earth:

"All I was saying was that either the earth is flat, and the bible is correct, or the earth is round, and the bible is incorect, i'm going to study the issue more and deside for myself which route I want to take. Either Atheist evolutionist, who agrees with all of mainstream sciences, or flat earth litteral bible believer.
I'm leaning toward being an atheist, because if I can't believe the bible to be completly litteraly true, then I can't believe Jesus when he speaks about heaven, etc..
That would make the moon landing a fake, and pretty much all of modern science false..."
Very nice. Indeed, indeed! It is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing! Very true. Sometimes, it is hard not to reply by sarcasm and cynicism to religious fundamentalist claims, to creationist/intelligent design idiocies such as those of Dembski or Lennox and many others. You cannot help it when you want to cry out loud: Stop those childish claims! Enough with your sense of moral superiority! But no! No matter what you say, there is always someone who will take it literally. I once wrote about how beautiful Lennox's argument involving his aunt Matilda was. Read it here if you care to waste 2 minutes. Briefly, Lennox has an aunt, Matilda, who makes nice cakes. His scientist friends can tell him what the cake contains but can never answer to the question why Matilda baked it. I wrote that, obviously, Matilda bakes it because she's a good and caring person and does so because she is a good Christian; and that this sophisticated argument of Lennox is evidence for existence of God. You can't believe how many thanks I received for my comment and how many people thought that it was great of me to extend Lennox's argument in such a nice way.

This is Poe's Law at work, right Michael?

Today, Jeffrey Shallit posted on why he thinks that religion makes smart people stupid. Well, even though I cannot prove that this is a universal law, it seems that Lennox is a prime example of it: he used to be a mathematician but he turned into religion. Instead of trying to work on his subject (Group Theory), he became a priest and an advocate of religion. I've been to two of his talks and, indeed, all I could say is that his arguments are naive. Famous scientists in the past have tried hard to come up with arguments about the existence of god. But Lennox does not belong to this class. He says nothing that has not been said before and does so by abusing science.


  1. Now my stupidity is even more public! Hehe, I'll have to be more careful next time.

    Yes that would be an example of Poe's law -- I'm not sure if it's supposed to refer to fundamentalists being the ones who take the sarcasm or non-fundies.

    Some of that stupidity is comedy gold though, I have Ray Comfort's blog in my reader under Humour and I love it.

  2. Michael, no no, it's not stupidity from your part; it's just because I want to avoid being stoned myself! That's why I'm "mild" :-)

    As for the publicity, don't worry. I don't seem to have many followers (yet). Unless, perhaps, you may want to link me to your blog...

    Thanks for the last comment.



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant