A little bit of stretching
May not leave one’s readers kvetching,
But it really is a case of “less is more”
Don’t compare a man to Hitler
If his crimes are vastly littler
Just remember what comparisons are for
If your similes are ruthless
You’ll be widely known as truthless
And despite your every effort to resist
You’ll have earned a reputation
That you like exaggeration
And your arguments will largely be dismissed
Or as Ogden Nash might have said…
Avoid overusing hyperbole
Unless you can do it superbole
In an ironically smug and annoying article, “How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet” (which I had to read over three times because I really truly wanted it to be intentionally ironic–I would still love for that to be the case, but I do not think it is), Brendan O’Neill engages in a bit of hyperbole–and not just in the title.
These days, barely a week passes without the emergence of yet more evidence that atheists are the most irritating people on Earth. Last week we had the spectacle of Dawkins and his slavish Twitter followers (whose adherence to Dawkins’ diktats makes those Kool-Aid-drinking Jonestown folk seem level-headed in comparison) boring on about how stupid Muslims are. This week we’ve been treated to new scientific research claiming to show that atheists are cleverer than religious people. I say scientific. I say research. It is of course neither; it’s just a pre-existing belief dolled up in rags snatched from various reports and stories. Not unlike the Bible. But that hasn’t stopped the atheistic blogosphere and Twitterati from effectively saying, “See? Told you we were brainier than you Bible-reading numbskulls.”
Now, I don’t happen to follow Dawkins on twitter, so I can’t actually speak to that first bit. I suppose it is possible that 900+ people killing themselves is rational in comparison to defending an author. I don’t really know. But yeah, that bit about the atheist blogosphere getting all egotistical is dead on. Well, you know, except for the articles critically analyzing the report, including (but certainly not limited to) FtB’s contributions by PZ and by Stephanie. The newspapers, yes, have done a bang-up job oversimplifying the paper, but not so much the “teeth-gratingly annoying” atheists.
Anyway, the rest of the article is annoying, too, but probably not as irritating as mass suicide, let alone as irritating as Dawkins’s followers apparently are, but my question is this:
Have you seen worse use of hyperbole?