Stephen Law On the Use of Mockery

[Redated, originally posted on 10/31/12] I really recommend Dr. Law's book, Believing Bullshit. In it he lays out eight key strategies that immunize believers in weird things from rational criticism by creating "a veneer of faux reasonableness." Number 6 is pseudoprofundity, which is "the art of sounding profound while taking nonsense." One of the most effective methods of disarming pseudoprofundity "is to translate what is said into plain English...clarity is likely to unmask them." Mockery and satire can have a role to play too. He writes:

"A little satire may help us recognize that we have been taken in by someone spouting little more than truisms, falsehoods, or nonsense dressed up as profundity." He doesn't suggest mockery should replace clear, rigorous criticism, but "because of its ability to help break the spell that pseudoprofundity casts over its victims, allowing us to entertain for a moment or two the thought that perhaps we have been somewhat gullible or foolish, a little mockery can form an appropriate part of a response." Mockery, he says, "may be both useful and legitimate if we can show that it is deserved." (pp. 169-70). This is pretty much what Richard Carrier said about the use of ridicule. Given that Christian apologists do not argue with full integrity, most recently exposed in the case of William Lane Craig's claim that animals don't feel pain, the mockery is much deserved.