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After I passed my 30th birthday, I should find myself growing a little bit beyond the latest joke on the internet. And perhaps I am growing a little bit beyond them, since I probably find out about them several weeks or month before the true woodlice of the rotting underbellies of the forums have originated and grown tired of them. And so it is with "Your argument is invalid", the latest catch phrase to set the net ablaze. I don't know when this went from being the flash of a single person, to an in-joke, to a phenomenon. It probably happened some time in the odd, sideways time of the internet.

The format of these pictures is to have a picture of something that is slightly incongruous to confusingly unlikely, with a description of what is in the picture, followed by the caption "Your argument is invalid". For example, a picture might have a cat playing a flute, with the caption "This cat is playing a flute...your argument is invalid".

Why the pictures reached popularity is one of those things that may never be ascertained: for as it is says in the Book of Job: "Can you pull Leviathan in on a hook? Can you make the whirlwind stop spinning? Can you understand what makes people laugh on the intarweb?" But I think that the "your argument is invalid" pictures are more than the simple funning of the tubes. One of the interesting things about the pictures is the use of the word "invalid". "Valid" and "Invalid" are technically the term for arguments that follow the formal rules of logic. Once upon a time, there were much fewer facts in the world, and people could know them, agree them and apply the rules of logic to them. Today, arguing is a much harder thing to do. Or easier. Because everyone has their own facts. And facts can be put together in various ways. You can cherry pick data, and pretend that correlation is causation. Or you can stubbornly insist that correlation is not causation, and that all data is cherry picked. There are lots of ways to argue, and many people doing it are not doing so in good faith.

So what do you do when someone spins information overload against you? Well, quite easy: you present them with a picture of a black bear sitting at a picnic table, and alert them to the fact that their argument is invalid.

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