How "TamTamPamela" proves Poe's Law

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Summary: Declaring 'God is soooo good' for shaking the Japanese, Youtube user tamtampamela got a huge response. Except...well, let's just say she ended up proving Poe's Law as correct. See this development in action.

BLOT: (16 Mar 2011 - 03:06:54 PM)

How "TamTamPamela" proves Poe's Law

Japan Probe had an entry about Tokyo's governor claiming the earthquake was divine punishment. Which is...nothing new? What massive tragedy doesn't get words like "divine", "God", "punishment", and so forth tossed around? It might the queers, or selfishness, or abortion: but any time a large number of people die, a small number of vocal folk come out and tell us that maybe it's a sign to get back on track. Human nature. Seeking the agent and the pattern. All that. And that's fine. It's how we cope. A particularly ugly form of coping, but a coping mechanism at any rate.

Towards the bottom of that post, was a video, which is now gone. Which was later reposted here: TamTamPamela's "GOD IS SO GOOD!!!". I'll not embed it, there's a chance it will disappear as well. It got massive feedback, and go ahead and feel free to click on it and watch it before coming back. Just in case you can't be bothered, or because it has already been taken down again, Pamela basically says that for Lent, her and her friends prayed for God to "shake up the atheists". Just a day or two into the process, Japan was shaken up greatly, a literal answer to their prayers. She goes on to say that if God can grant a 9.0 earthquake after just one day of prayer, just think what can be accomplished over the 40 days of Lent! Only a powerful and good God could do such a miracle, basically, and therefore God is SOOOO good.

Except, of course, it was fake. After getting tons of outcry over the next couple of days, something the user was banking on but I think this hit a bigger nerve than she intended, she came clean. A video I cannot link to because after a few more hours, her whole channel came down. And if you do a search for "tamtampamela" on YouTube, you'll find about half the people hating on her, and the other half going "is this fake?". Still, in the hating-on half, you are still getting some passionate responses. Like this one, posted a couple of days ago, which describes Pamela's video as a "horror story". I've not watched the whole thing, but it seems an earnest confusion as to what is being accomplished with the video, a worry that people actually think that (and don't get me wrong, people *do* consider the Japanese earthquake to be just).

Poe's Law (LGT: RationalWiki) states that, in the absence of obvious signs [say, a smiley face], any caricature of fundamentalism will be mistaken by at least someone as actual fundamentalism. RationalWiki links to original iteration of Poe's Law, which was "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is uttrerly [sic] impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article." There are a lot of ways to take that, and to a degree it is merely a subset of the fact that someone, somewhere, can be made to believe just about anything in the right context; especially in the light that anti-fundamentalists will quickly assign any number of blatant mental deficiencies to fundies.

There is a corollary, that it is impossible to create an actual fundamentalist screed that cannot be mistaken for parody. Which is fascinating in its own right, if not more so, and is the reason why people will assume that folk like those at the Westboro Baptist Church are a parody, a scam, and so forth. This corollary once came out in an argument between myself and Amy Walker. I had found some page talking about Christian upbringing and children. That's all I recall, now. The points seemed honest enough, though I remember them being a bit crazy sounding, and there was no reason to assume it was a parody. Amy, however, was convinced that it must have been one. I told her that I knew a couple of people who believed close enough to what was being said (I wish I could remember what the claim was) and that I had no problem in believing that someone could think this way. She paradoxically agreed with me, but somehow tried to use that as more proof that it was all faked. At the time, I had not heard of Poe's Law [well, this would have been 2003 or so, so it would have predated it] but I tried pointing out a couple of different websites like Landover Baptist and some legit Christian sites and show how, when it comes down to brass-tacks, the parody sites were mostly different when they were obviously parody.

In the case of "TamTamPamela", I became suspicious not with her first video, but with a couple of follow-ups I saw. It wasn't so much what she was saying, but what she wasn't. All of her stuff would be these like 30-second rants on how God must have wrote the Bible, because if He didn't, then who did? And she would sneer as though she had backed you into a corner. What's more, they were cherry picked problematic and unconvincing arguments, the sort of thing you might react to if you were dialed up to 11 and were looking for someone to argue with or defend on a topic; but not the sort of thing to which someone would dedicate all of their posts. Where were her vlogs about her friends hanging out down by the beach? Where were her vlogs about the implication of the Book of Job in the everyday world? Where were her vlogs talking about, I don't know, The Prayer of Jabez or something? When nearly all of her channel's videos were points of contention boiled down into short sound-bites, speckled almost randomly in time, I disbelieved. And it turned out I was right. What if I had been wrong? I have no idea.

Anyhow, despite the fact that she was making it up, there are still rounds going down on YouTube with people addressing her, attacking her, praising her trolling, and so forth. By taking down her channel, she may have even made it worse, because now her "Yes, I'm coming clean" video is gone along with all the videos that people have long attacked. Fairly fascinating.

LABEL(s): On Religious Discourse


Written by Doug Bolden

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