The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Invisible Pink Unicorn

Blank images are commonly presented as depictions of the Invisible Pink Unicorn in order to highlight her invisibility.
Blank images are commonly presented as depictions of the Invisible Pink Unicorn in order to highlight her invisibility.

The Invisible Pink Unicorn (IPU) is a satiric parody religion aimed at theistic beliefs, based on the idea of a goddess in the form of a unicorn that is paradoxically both invisible and pink.

It is accepted that there are no actual believers in this mock goddess, but it has become popular, especially on atheist web sites and on-line discussion forums, to feign belief in her for the sake of humor and as a form of critique or satire of theistic belief. These professions of faith also make the point that it is difficult to refute avowals of belief in phenomena outside human perception.

The IPU can be used as a reductio ad absurdum of supernatural beliefs, for example by replacing the word "God" in an argument with "Invisible Pink Unicorn".

The earliest known written references to IPU are from between 1990 and 1992 on the Usenet discussion group alt.atheism. Other sources concerning IPU state that she was "revealed to us" on alt.atheism. However, others have reported hearing of her in verbal discussions prior to the first mentions in the newsgroup, and it is probable that IPU was part of verbal culture for some time before 1990. The IPU seems to have become notable primarily through on-line culture: in addition to alt.atheism, where IPU still frequently comes up in discussions, there are now a number of web sites dedicated to her.

A quote from the alt.atheism FAQ sums up their use of the Invisible Pink Unicorn:

The point of this silliness is to prod the theist into remembering that their preaching is likely to be viewed by atheists as having all the credibility and seriousness of [the atheists] preaching about the IPU[...].

The following, which appears as the header on one Invisible Pink Unicorn web site[1], seems to distill the essence of the parody/critique:

The Invisible Pink Unicorn is a being of great spiritual power. We know this because she is capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorn is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that she is pink; we logically know that she is invisible because we can't see her.

It is common when discussing the Invisible Pink Unicorn to point out that because she is invisible, no one can prove she does not exist. Her two defining attributes, "invisibility" and "pinkness", are inconsistent and contradictory, and this is part of the satire.

There are humorous debates amongst her followers concerning her other attributes, such as whether she is completely invisible or visible only to those who have faith in her. Some of these debates are quite elaborate and tortured, satirizing the disputatiousness of many religions. Despite this, over time some agreement has developed regarding her attributes, with the most humorous and incongruous generally gaining the greatest consensus. For example, it is more or less agreed that she is partial to ham and pineapple pizza, although some vegetarians dissent that since IPU is vegetarian, it must be pineapple and mushroom. Pineapple, anyway, is agreed upon, as is the fact that she despises pepperoni. Another point of agreement is that IPU "raptures" socks, which accounts for their otherwise inexplicable tendency to disappear. Socks raptured from your laundry are allegedly a "sign" of favor from IPU — or it could be disfavor, depending on who is asked, or perhaps upon which socks are raptured. Skeptics might suggest one seek a deeper understanding by looking under the washing machine's agitator for "raptured" garments.

Depictions of Invisible Pink Unicorn commonly show either a fading pink unicorn, or simply nothing. Images representing "sightings" of IPU, showing an unremarkable image of a place where the invisible being supposedly was "seen", are also commonly presented as part of the joke. There is an Invisible Pink Unicorn logo that was created by frequenters of alt.atheism and adopted by others, and it is possible to purchase T-shirts, coffee cups, and other paraphernalia featuring the logo. One website selling these items describes them as a subtle means for atheists to recognize one another without giving offense to non-atheists, suggesting that IPU has become a kind of emblem or mascot for atheists, especially those who frequent online venues.

The name of the Invisible Pink Unicorn in jocular discourse is usually followed in brackets by a sentence such as Blessed Be Her Holy Hooves, Peace Be Unto Her, or May Her Hooves Never Be Shod, which in turn are often shortened to bbhhh, pbuh, or mhhnbs respectively. These epithets recall, and are perhaps intended to satirize, the Islamic practice of adjoining epithets to Muhammad's name.

A similar idea to the IPU has been brought forward by Carl Sagan in his essay The Dragon in my garage in his book The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In the Dark (ISBN 0345409469), namely that an invisible dragon breathing heatless fire is living in his garage [2].

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Last updated: 05-20-2005 04:03:45