Humor defect exacerbates impact ;-)

April 26, 2007 at 1:45 am | Posted in Climate change, Daylight Saving Time, Global warming, Humor, Humour, Joke, Letter, Middle School, Persuasive, Satire, Students | 6 Comments

My comments are in the right-hand column. Worth waiting for, kids!

The persuasive letter What makes it a good example?
Arkansas Democrat Gazette prints Daylight Exacerbates Warning 16 April 2007

See if you can follow the way the writer thinks:

  • (his possible thoughts are in italics and parentheses like this)

Note carefully, very carefully:

  • >A reader is encouraged to think this, in angle brackets.<
(start with a memorable title*)
Daylight (Daylight connects DST, hours of sunshine, and global warming thoughts easily)
exacerbates (exacerbates has a nice sharp tone. Even if most people are unsure of its real meaning, it should make them wake up and read on. People who know full-well what exacerbate means will appreciate it is a worthy adjective for my warning.)
warning (warning ~> a play on words may go unnoticed, or be taken as a simple typo for warming, or be detected as a signal that what follows could be a joke. Let’s see what happens, shall we, dear kids?)
You may have noticed (of course you have, and if not, I shall tell you what you should have noticed if you had been half-paying attention to the world around you these days …)
that March of this year was particularly hot. >Yes.<

(reader nods in agreement.)
As a matter of fact, >Oooh … facts are good. Nice to see a letter-writer who knows what he/she is talking about …<
I understand (this is my opinion; your eyes will miss this loophole, silly reader! Whatever I say after this point is a fact of my understanding, whether it is true or false 😉 )
that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. >Yes. I guess it must have been.<

(so far so good. Now I shall don my cool shades for effect 😎 )
All of the trees (let’s not beat about the bush. I said all. I mean, reasonable everyday folk like us talk in broad, general terms, like all or none.)
were fully leafed out (yes, fully!)
and legions of bugs (legions has a nice Old Testament plaguish ring to it; conjuring up a few Biblical images adds impact to my impish suggestion to be revealed later …)
and snakes (oh, yes snakes—of course, it all began with that wicked serpent in the Garden of Eden, didn’t it?!)
were crawling around (poetic licence: I know snakes don’t actually crawl. They slither. Crawl adds a certain “unpleasant uncertainty” to this picture—where will these dreadful creatures creep next? ::shudder:: )
  (having painted a clear picture in your mind, dear gullible reader, I now adjust the setting to reinforce that this matters to you in your hometown now …)
during a time in Arkansas when, >Time I know. Place I know.<
on a normal year, >Experience I have. All very familiar.<
we might see a snowflake or two. >How pretty! Yes. Snowflakes, especially rare singles or pairs delicately dancing down to Earth, are so delightful by comparison with these dreadful hot-weather invasions.<

This should come as no surprise >You’re right. I already knew this.<
to any reasonable person. >That’s right—I am very reasonable. I know I am.<

(reader is lulled into a false sense of security that no surprises lie ahead, and also bathes in reflected glory of reasonableness while continuing to read and agree with my points …)

As you know, >Yes, I already know this, but tell me again, because you sound like a reasonable guy yourself.<
Daylight Saving Time (I am spelling this correctly for the benefit of fellow educated pedants—not peasants—who know that most people usually say and write “savings” instead of the accurate “Saving”, with initial capital. Such aficionados of the English language will either remain serious and become impressed at my attention to detail, or will see it as confirmation that I know what I am talking about and furthermore recognise the satirical nature of my letter. Let’s see …)
started almost a month early this year. >Yes.<
You would think >Yes, I am reasonable and I like to think that I think reasonably about things …<
that members of Congress >Oh, yes! Now you have my attention.<

(good: just in time for my carefully staged political point 😉 )
would have considered >Yes, that’s their job, isn’t it? They are meant to consider things carefully on my behalf.<
the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on >Good grief! You are right—we have had an extra hour of daylight this year during the past hot month!<
our climate. >Crikey! I hadn’t put the two together before. Daylight=>warming. So that’s what they are doing to us, is it? Cooking us in our own juices!<

Or did they? >I bet they didn’t! They were probably out enjoying free lunches instead of doing the job they are paid to do. Typical slackers.<

Perhaps this is another plot >Plot, conspiracy, call it what you will, O reasonable letter-writer. I am on your side.<
by liberal Congress >Yes. They are the worst! I mean “Congress” is bad enough, but “liberal Congress” is way off the deep end.<
to make us believe >Don’t you just hate it when they do that?! Ramming ideas down your throat as if you are an idiot! And they expect you to swallow them afterwards without as much as a burp or a “pardon me”!<
that global warming is a real threat. >If that’s what they are up to, they’ll never get me to believe it. A threat?! How ridiculous. Global warming is just a natural cycle. We all know that.<

Perhaps next time (Look out reader, now I have worked you up into a frenzy or tizzy, depending on your personality, I am about to make my evil suggestion …)
there should be serious studies performed >Good grief, yes! Serious studies are definitely needed before we take another leap into the dark over global warming.<
before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects. >That’s right. I shall now go to the water cooler and warn all my friends about this evil hoax:<



Yes. Jokes are a great form of persuasion.

That was my own interpretation of how this letter appeals to a reader’s emotions, and all comments are entirely attributable to me, inel.

*the day after reading this, my youngest reminded me of “that funny warning letter—warming warning, get it?!”

P.S. I found another reference to this letter on The Sietch blog here and have since found, thanks to fermiparadox, that Snopes has debunked it here.



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  1. Snakes alive, Robin, we’ve got a live one here. The satire is all yours, I guess, as Connie M strikes me as one incapable of detecting the irony in her own missive. Or does the fact that she hails from ‘Hot Springs’ suggest her acute tongue-in-cheekiness. If this were Vonnegut it would be funny; as its Meskimen the jury’s out on whether she’s a liberal basher or not. I suspect she is.

    The trees are in leaf here too and the blooms are blooming weeks ahead of schedule. It can’t have anything to do with the 15 cars that dock in the 6 houses in our street can it? Whatever, I’ll just go and fill her up and get some pre-packaged exotic fruit from the other side of the world from the local Walmart and forget about my problems.

    Nice teaching aid by the way and one i will introduce to my teaching colleagues.

  2. […] April 26th, 2007 in Global Warming, climate change inel says all that needs to be said. I laughed. […]

  3. Nice one, inel. To summarise, in case anyone has missed how this works – it’s the oldest sales technique/con trick in the book. Establish a pattern of either agreement or disagreement (as suits your purpose) about irrelevancies, and you can almost guarantee that pattern will override common sense when you actually make your point. Kids – adults get fooled by this all too often – don’t let anyone do it to you!

  4. Hello simon, I thought Connie was a lady, Constance. However, this Connie is a man, and he specialises in this tongue-in-cheekiness, as you can read in Snopes. With a first name like Connie, a surname the same as the Applied Silliness comedians who do JibJab political humour, and he lives in Hot Springs—it’s all too funny for words.

  5. Dear inel, You are one in a million! You’ve taken Valley Girl humor to a whole new level! Wally

  6. worth pointing out to those who don’t read the snopes story that the letter’s author is a lawyer, and the letter’s similarity in logic and tone to a formal argument in a court of law is not an accident. imagine it in a movie, with the speaker starting with, “your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,…” the author ridicules THE ENTIRE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT OF ARKANSAS in one short letter.

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