Monday, October 23, 2006

Report: 83% of Americans don't Understand Satire

(Reuters) - Carnegie Mellon University researchers announced the results of their three year, seven and a half month, four day, twelve minute and thirty-three second study of the state of satire in the United States.

Announcing the findings was Dr. Karl Gruber of the Institute for Mathematics, Creative Writing and Public Policy (IMCWAPP) at CMU.

"It is disturbing that in the current climate of fear, unrest, cynicism, irony, pathos, puns, and litotes, currently 83% of Americans cannot recognize satire when compared with actual real life events," said Gruber.

Gruber heads a team of eleven researchers at IMCWAPP, dedicated to finding the disconnect between perceptions and reality.

"It started out as more of anecdotes: stories of people burning copies of A Modest Proposal after finding out that it called for the eating of babies. Then there was the instance in Alabama where, after reading a compendium of the works of Alexander Pope, two Senators put forth a bill mandating 25 yrs to life for Lock Rapists. And of course all the politicians that go on The Colbert Report"

"My colleague Dr. Frank M. Arouet and I set about to test people's responses to satire in a controlled environment. The results were surprising."

According to the study, 83% of all Americans were unable to correctly identify obvious pieces of satire from talk radio. Further, 64% of those that incorrectly identified satire as actual opinion, when solicited, gave money to the supposed cause or were sold T-Shirts with satirical opinions. A further 20% went to rallies on said satirical opinion and, in one instance, a man actually set himself on fire.

"I mean," says Arouet, "I knew people in this country were dumb, but I though 'Blue Collar Comedy' Dumb not 'Dumber than a bag of ball peen hammers' Dumb. Heck, we could have completely made up our research and just asked for more funding."

Gruber and Arouet announced that they will be continuing on their $340 million study from an undisclosed hotel in Aruba, where they will conduct indepth research on the number of salt grains that can fit on the rim of a margarita glass.


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