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The Sciences

Perspective

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollJanuary 27, 2006 10:19 PM

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terrorcartoon.jpg

Political humor is always a tricky business; taking a strong stand tends to annoy more than half of your potential audience rather than make them laugh, while wishy-washy moderation just isn't that funny. This post at Joe's Dartblog pops open the hood on an editorial cartoon and looks inside, showing something we don't usually get to see: three cartoons about a single topic, by the same artist, taking three different ideological perspectives (left, moderate, right). Even though I love political humor when it's insightful and agrees with my predelictions, this exercise actually highlights the rhetorical limitations of the medium. A joke isn't an argument, and the techniques of humor can be much more directly employed to bolster opinions that people already have than to make them see things in a new way. (Via the Volokh Conspiracy.)

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