Time to Put Humor Under the Microscope

The Huffington Post:

According to Dennett, humor evolved as a way for the mind to incentivize the discovery of mistaken leaps to conclusion — or as he puts in his talk, it’s “A neural system wired up to reward the brain for doing a grubby clerical job.” This so-called “Hurley model” (named after lead author Matthew Hurley), makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.

That’s why when Pete, the scholarly half of our duo, began wondering what makes things funny, he launched the Humor Research Lab, aka HuRL. With his collaborator Caleb Warren, he’s been developing and testing the benign violation theory, the idea that humor arises when something that is unsettling, threatening or wrong (i.e., a violation) simultaneously seems acceptable, safe or okay (i.e., benign). All kinds of humor fit the model, from puns to sarcasm to tickling. But more importantly, the theory is being validated experimentally.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

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Pete ‘the scholarly half’, should read Arthur Koestler’s ‘The Act of Creation’, a classic study of humour and human creativity.

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