7 November 2018

The effective use of satire for convincing an audience

Elisabeth Preston, writing on Undark:

Over a decade’s worth of research shows that while satire does carry some risks, it can be an effective tool for communication. Satire can capture people’s attention and make complex topics accessible to a wider audience. In some circumstances, it can even sway beliefs. If scientists want to communicate with the public about a serious subject, they might try a joke.

It is not only good news though:

But humour could also manipulate audiences in the opposite direction. Comedy could just as easily be used to engage people with perspectives that misrepresent or undermine science,” [Lauren Feldman, a communication researcher] says.

Another risk: people might not get the joke.

You already know what I will say but yes, I think The Onion is doing an terrific job when it comes to satire: humorous pieces with a real message; my favourite category being American Voices, where they publish fake one-line opinions from the public regarding a very real issue.


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