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The Science of Humor

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-put-a-dollar-in-a-change-machine-and-nothing-changed dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 344

Hugh Pickens writes "The sense of humor is a ubiquitous human trait, yet rare or non-existent in the rest of the animal kingdom. But why do humans have a sense of humor in the first place? Cognitive scientist (and former programmer) Matthew Hurley says humor (or mirth, in research-speak) is intimately linked to thinking and is a critical task in human cognition because a sense of humor keeps our brains alert for the gaps between our quick-fire assumptions and reality. 'We think the pleasure of humor, the emotion of mirth, is the brain's reward for discovering its mistaken inferences,' says Hurley, co-author of Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind. With humor, the brain doesn't just discover a false inference — it almost simultaneously recovers and corrects itself. For example, read the gag that's been voted the funniest joke in the world by American men. So why is this joke funny? Because it is misleading, containing a small, faulty assumption that opens the door to a costly mistake. Humor is 'when you catch yourself in an error, like looking for the glasses that happen to be on the top of your head. You've made an assumption about the state of the world, and you're behaving based on that assumption, but that assumption doesn't hold at all, and you get a little chuckle.'"

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That joke's not funny! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181384)

Now, this is funny: Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!

Re:That joke's not funny! (2)

Niedi (1335165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181560)

ahahahahahaaaargh *choke* *dies*

Re:That joke's not funny! (5, Funny)

johny42 (1087173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181660)

This is consistent with what TFA says:

One intriguing result was that Germans -- not renowned for their sense of humour -- found just about everything funny and did not express a strong preference for any type of joke.

Re:That joke's not funny! (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181902)

Not true. Germans only find jokes that contain the word "ass" to be funny.

Re:That joke's not funny! (5, Funny)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182068)

There were zwei peanuts, walking down the strasse, und one was 'assaulted'... peanut.

Re:That joke's not funny! (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181888)

Zat's not funny!

heh

hehehe

hehehehehehe

argh! *dies*

Re:That joke's not funny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38182162)

Or, like when you see an idiot fall and seriously injure themselves while having only just previously thought "it would be funny if this mental midget fell down a flight of stairs - but today's not my lucky day" - then it happens! (purely by coincidence of course..)

Be careful! (-1, Redundant)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181392)

If you make a joke too funny, you might die laughing. Like this one:

Wenn ist nunstück git und slotemeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das oder die flipperwaldt gersput!

Re:Be careful! (3, Funny)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181414)

Don't expect any replies from the German readership.

Re:Be careful! (2)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181510)

Except possibly the German fans of Monty Python.

Re:Be careful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181950)

What's German for "whoosh?"

Re:Be careful! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181968)

Whoosh?

Re:Be careful! (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182022)

der uber whoosh

Re:Be careful! (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182060)

What's German for "whoosh?"

Whooshenstauffe

Re:Be careful! (5, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181436)

My German's a bit rusty, but so far I get that this joke includes a nun who is stuck in John Mayer in some fashion. Then a dog does something with pancakes.

I need to hear the rest of it so badly./p.

Re:Be careful! (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181532)

Mod parent down it translates multiple words of the German version of the joke if you're not quick enough to realize whats happening you may have to spend several weeks in the hospital.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181444)

I didn't expect the Spanish inquisition!

Re:wow (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181570)

I didn't expect the Spanish inquisition!

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition. Our chief weapon is surprise! Surprise and fear, fear and surprise. Our two main waepons are...

I'm sure you know the rest :)

All the same, I'm not surprised at the North Americans not enjoying puns. They seem to like "long" stories either. Too much phoenetic spelling gives rise to less attention on the basis of the words, although with the Canadians, it is a little surprising.
A comedian friend of mine has said that although Irish, UK and most European audiences will take delight in a story style joke, the Americans have to be forced to understand that *short line delivery* it's a joke, laugh now.
Perhaps there could be quiite a few psychological studies undertaken on why "Americans and Canadians preferred jokes where there was a strong sense of superiority".

Re:wow (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182042)

Americans tend to vote their jokes into public office.

Re:Be careful! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181448)

Du verdammtes Arschl--NO CARRIER

Re:Be careful! (5, Funny)

Snarf You (1285360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181530)

According to Google, the translation is:

If nunstück is git and slotemeyer? Yes! Beiherhund or the gersput flipperwaldt!

Hilarious.

Re:Be careful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181602)

Boy, machine translation has come a long way.
That translation is flawless. A human couldn't have done it better.
Never thought I see the day.

Re:Be careful! (5, Funny)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181894)

Google has a special filter which prevents translating dangerous jokes like that. You should be happy, Google just saved your life.

Laugh while you still can. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181402)

Big Brother is Watching You.

Re:Laugh while you still can. (4, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182052)

and laughing

Minsky 1980 (5, Informative)

cstacy (534252) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181422)

Errors are universal, humour is cultural (4, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181442)

Humor is when you catch yourself in an error

But The Funniest joke in the (english speaking?) World reckons that people from different cultures find different styles of humour to be more/less funny.

So there appears to be a conflict here. You'd expect everyone's brain to be wired to catch the same sorts of errors or false inferences, yet if there's a cultural component to humour that contradicts the "error" theory.

Re:Errors are universal, humour is cultural (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181482)

It is obviously not about errors. Hogwash. Humour is evolved specifically as a conflict resolution mechanism relying on shared abstracts. If you can make someone laugh you share something rapidly and are less likely to kill each other. You "share" a joke as a meal or a drink. Obviously.

Re:Errors are universal, humour is cultural (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38182100)

I don't know about those errors either. For example, I offer the double-entendre. An example that happened recently: I was sitting on the couch watching a Mythbusters rerun. They have that little montage at the start where it introduces the team and they each get a couple of seconds - sometimes showing them do something funny, strange, or sciency. In Kari's portion, she was in a yellow suit and said, "I'm a pinata!". I immediately yelled out, "I'd hit it!".

You see - double-entendre. Hilarious. I don't see the error though.

Making fun of a group (4, Interesting)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181554)

yet if there's a cultural component to humour that contradicts the "error" theory.

Indeed. Vast categories of jokes make fun of a group (different race, different cultural background, certain hobbies, certain lifestyles, etc.), including this one by the way. The stereotype this plays on is "hunters are stupid rednecks who shoot first and think later". Hunters would probably find the joke less funny but probably the "researchers" didn't define a category for them, so it didn't how up on their stats...

Re:Making fun of a group (4, Insightful)

clintp (5169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181670)

The stereotype this plays on is "hunters are stupid rednecks who shoot first and think later". [...] Hunters would probably find the joke less funny but probably the "researchers" didn't define a category for them, so it didn't how up on their stats...

Those stupid redneck hunters often have an enormous ability to laugh at themselves that shouldn't be discounted. I haven't hunted in a while (but my NRA membership is still current) and I found the joke quite funny.

Re:Making fun of a group (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181916)

I immediately thought the same thing, then I realized that racist potty humor doesn't really challenge the brain that much, so therefore really isn't that funny. I'm looking at you Jeff Dunham.

Re:Errors are universal, humour is cultural (2)

Hermanas (1665329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181568)

From TFA:

If a sense of humor is part of our basic, human thinking machinery, then why can’t we agree about what’s funny?

What’s universal about humor is the process, not the content. Everybody faces every situation with different beliefs, knowledge, and understandings about the world. And different understandings lead to different assumptions and therefore different false assumptions.

So there's not necessarily a conflict - you'd expect different cultures to have different assumptions about the world (for geographical and linguistic reasons, perhaps), and therefore have a different sense of humor.

Hay Pete! All the guys down at the pub... (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181626)

... say your girl is a lousy lay, but I want you to know that that's not my experience at all.

Re:Hay Pete! All the guys down at the pub... (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181834)

... say your girl is a lousy lay, but I want you to know that that's not my experience at all.

They're probably right. I know your wife thinks that too!

Re:Hay Pete! All the guys down at the pub... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181910)

Maybe they meant louse-y lay.

Re:Hay Pete! All the guys down at the pub... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181934)

a really pretty waitress once found me attractive and asked me if I wanted some super sex.

but at my age, I opted for the soup.

Re:Errors are universal, humour is cultural (2)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181854)

> So there appears to be a conflict here. You'd expect everyone's brain to be wired to catch the same sorts of errors or false inferences, yet if there's a cultural component to humour that contradicts the "error" theory.

That would only be the case if everybody made the same errors and false inferences in the first place, but our view of the world and the inferences we make are very much influenced by our culture.

Expectations depend on context (thus, culture) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181964)

If I were to see a homeless hobo take a piss at a street corner, I wouldn't find it funny (It could be anything from sad to repulsive, depending on my current mood). If I were to see a businessman in a tailor made suit do that, I'd nearly certainly get a few laughs out of it. This is obviously a cultural issue and fully consistent with this theory: On one of those cases, my expectations are reversed and my mind needs to do some self-repairing.

Obviously there is a cultural component to humor - like there is to everything else that we do - but it doesn't even imply that this theory would be wrong (and it certainly isn't new).

They should study hype-induced "humor". (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181458)

Some humor is purely hype-induced. From what I've read so far, I'm not sure if this scientific work has covered this aspect of it.

xkcd "comics" are a good example of this. Nothing about them is truly funny, creative, original or even insightful. Many of them just make some semi-obscure computing- or Internet-culture reference. There's not even any humor drawn from this reference. It's just a certain word or phrase being dropped in comic format, and this tricks some people into thinking it should be considered "funny". We end up with people supposedly finding an xkcd comic to be "humorous" just because it mentions SQL injection, for instance. The rest of the "comics" are just ancient jokes that anyone who has spent any time in an academic or laboratory setting would've seen years, or even decades, ago.

A rather pathetic community of hype has grown up around xkcd comics. It's much like the hype that surrounds Apple products, although this shouldn't be surprising. The same weak-minded fools who are drawn to the religious Apple subculture are also the ones who link to xkcd comics whenever possible. These people are somehow drawn to inferior products and culture, and for whatever reason try as hard as possible to export this nonsense whenever and wherever possible. In the case of xkcd, it becomes "popular" not on its own merits, but merely because it is constantly hyped.

(For any of you dipshits who are going to reply to this with links to xkcd "comics", don't bother. I have a Greasemonkey scrip that detects and removes crap like that. I won't even see your comments.)

Re:They should study hype-induced "humor". (2, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181504)

What, did Randall run over your dog or something? All you do is sound like you have a grudge. I really do pity you if you have this much vitriol against people just because they read a webcomic because it entertains them. And as for the "ancient jokes", did you ever think that maybe people find them funny because they can relate to them?

Re:They should study hype-induced "humor". (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181724)

It's too bad that the GP's comment is modded down to -1. Of the 40 or so comments posted here so far, it's the only one that takes anything resembling a scientific approach toward analyzing humor. The rest are just people posting off-topic comments repeating jokes they heard elsewhere, or posting snide remarks like yours. Also, nothing in the GP's comment sounds like a grudge to me, nor is it vitriolic. It sounds like a very reasonable and intellectual analysis of XKCD comics and their impact on the the internet community.

Re:They should study hype-induced "humor". (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181942)

actually, someone put corn flakes in this guy's piss, today.

that's why he's a grouch.

Re:They should study hype-induced "humor". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181506)

I think you need a new sense of humor, yours seems broken. (No, not just xkcd related.)

Re:They should study hype-induced "humor". (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181548)

Are you the guy who keeps ranting about how bad xkcd is every time someone posts a link to an xkcd comic? If so, I think you may need to seek professional help (hell, the fact that you have a greasemonkey script to make sure you don't see links to xkcd is probably enough of a reason to consider this).

Re:They should study hype-induced "humor". (1, Informative)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181592)

just because it mentions SQL injection,

You mean the famous "Bobbie Tables" one? Yeah, but that one is funny as hell, sorry if you didn't get the humor. And yes, it does not just drop the buzzwords "SQL injection", but actually constructs a small story around it. And I just checked, the strip doesn't even mention "SQL injection", it just shows the consequences of one...

Of course, a webmaster having been called from his weekend because a goat wandered on to his site might find SQL injection less funny, but the same is true of the hunter who just shot his mate.

Re:They should study hype-induced "humor". (2)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181962)

Forwarding/referencing/reposting xkcd comics is a way for a large minority of socially challenged people to express themselves in a way free of normal societal constraints. In other words, it's nerd humor, and there's nothing wrong with that. The Internet has given lots of small-but-passionate groups a voice.

anyone who has spent any time in an academic or laboratory setting would've seen years, or even decades, ago.

Oh, so you are a hipster of computer science. Interesting!

Apple users and xkcd are one in the same? Seriously? I'm in the first camp and don't get the second camp at all. I think the two are mutually exclusive, unless there's some sort of strange hybrid "I find SQL injection on my Mac to be funny" personas out there.

The real joke (5, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181484)

The real joke in "the funniest joke" is the starting line:

The world's funniest joke has been revealed after a year-long search by scientists.

Ideologue Comedians (5, Insightful)

Rosy At Random (820255) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181494)

This makes sense in the context of something I've noticed: the more extreme and deeply-held your views, the less likely you are to have a functioning sense of humour. In particular, hard-core religious people seem to have none whatsoever. If your dogma is so entrenched and rigid, then you aren't going to make self-correction and ambiguity a strong part of your mental tool-kit.

Never trust someone without a sense of humour, kids.

(Of course, too much can be a bad thing, too, at least insofar as maniacal giggling whilst ripping your still-living victims organs out can be considered humorous...)

Stereotype jokes? (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181562)

How about jokes perpetuating stereotypes about minorities or whatever strongly-held views the audience has? Jokes that would offend an average audience but not the intended one.

Sadly, I don't have any deeply religious friends to experiment on.

Re:Stereotype jokes? (3, Interesting)

Rosy At Random (820255) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181612)

That feels like a different kind of humour - not at one's own expectations being subverted, but at an Other's perceived shortcomings being exploited in a status re-affirming way.

Re:Ideologue Comedians (3, Insightful)

dak664 (1992350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181764)

That fits with my view that laughter is an interrupted defense mechanism. Ideologues have no other running tasks to interrupt the foreground process.

Re:Ideologue Comedians (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181794)

That isn't funny!

Re:Ideologue Comedians (4, Interesting)

Rosy At Random (820255) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181874)

Then there's the question of what my girlfriend thinks is funny when she gets hyper. Answer: everything, pretty much; it's like she's on laughing gas and she usually just ends up repeating a word (or corrupted variation of it) over and over while giggling uncontrollably. It's like a short-circuit to the funny circuits of her brain, and perhaps could reveal something about the neurology of humour if analysed.

PS if you're reading this, sorry, I love you :D

Re:Ideologue Comedians (5, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181882)

In particular, hard-core religious people seem to have none whatsoever.

Try walking into a Christian bookstore and asking for their humour section (often there isn't one, or it's pretty sparse, or it's in the children's section). If there isn't one, you can make remarks like "What? Christians have no sense of humour?".

FWIW, I'm a Christian, and I was actually looking for this book: http://www.amazon.com/Fearfully-Wonderfully-Weird-Screwball-Wittenburg/dp/0310287316 [amazon.com]

Seriously though, it may be because those "hard core" ultrareligious sorts live in fear (which IMO is suboptimal). It's not funny if you feel unsafe.

Safe and secure. That's why good guy friends can slap each other on the back, throw insults and do all sorts of other stuff - they know they are safe, genuinely no harm is ever intended. And that's why children are laughing if daddy throws them up in the air, and of course catches them. That's often the difference between a funny prank and a malicious act. If the victim feels safe and is safe, it's funny. If it's not, it's not funny.

maniacal giggling whilst ripping your still-living victims organs out can be considered humorous.

They say beauty is only skin deep, but I love you from the bottom of your heart. Hey be thankful I didn't I "love" you from the heart of your bottom... What's the matter, cat got your tongue? Ooops, looks like she did.

Bwahahaha.

Re:Ideologue Comedians (1)

Slashdot Assistant (2336034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182038)

I'd certainly agree that they lack a sense of humor when their sensibilities are being offended or challenged, and that's certainly not restricted to religious people. Strong emotional attachments lead lead to protective outlooks. Someone with a severely handicapped daughter is perhaps less likely to laugh at Down Syndrome jokes than someone who has never had to deal with this horrible condition. One man's solemn and ritualistic religious service is another man's LARP session run by obsessively compulsive bead-fondlers.

So here's one (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181522)

A rabby, a priest, and a joak gowed to a bar.
And said teh joke: how u doin rabby
N teh rabby seadead lolhao u doin joak?!
N tehn teh pressed seaded, woat u toakin abt joak n rabby?!
N rabby lookdead 'rouwnd n sead ohay preest wear joak goed!
n tehn teh preest said lol u noa knoowed war ur fren goed?
N tehn teh rabby gt worred n sayed now eye iz srsly bunnay rabbid u seed banny bare?
N LOL teh rabby said wear barney bare cum frum??
N tehn the rabbidy bare sead he hear oal allong noa?
N tehn teh joked came beck frum teh john.

A simple formula: (1)

zoom-ping (905112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181538)

comedy = tragedy + time

Re:A simple formula: (2)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181594)

If it bends its funny. If it breaks its not funny.

Plus words with K in them something something....

.

Re:A simple formula: (4, Insightful)

clintp (5169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181682)

If it bends its funny. If it breaks its not funny..

Baloney. The breaking is funny too, if it's broken well.

Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die. -- Mel Brooks

Re:A simple formula: (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181810)

It's true because it's funny.

Re:A simple formula: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181866)

Not always true.

The true formula per-say is this:
Through words, paint a picture in the audiences mind (the setup), then smash it and replace it with a different picture (the punch line).

To break down the "Worlds funniest joke" in the article:

Setup:
*
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.

He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."
*
This is a concise but simple painting. We all can imagine two guys out in the woods hunting. There is enough information here so everyone can imagine what is going on, But there isn't an overly amount of detail. Are the guys young, old, fat skinny, wearing plaid shirts, what type of guns, where are they? This is GOOD!!! The author has given us just enough information for the basic painting, but left us (the audience) to create and fill in our own personal details. We ALL can imagine what is going on.

We would normally assume that in real situation like this, that the emergency services will respond and try to save the injured person. Whether they succeed... we don't know. But following the emergency services orders "First, let's make sure he's dead." An average person would follow this order by checking for a pulse, are they breathing, are they conscience?

Punch line:
*
There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"
*
Now we have a new picture. Again, simple. One shot the other. Why? Because in a hunters mind, what's the best way to make sure something is dead... shoot it.

You can use this to analyze any joke, or comedic story. They all follow it: Paint a picture, then smash it.

Re:A simple formula: (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182016)

We ALL can imagine what is going on.

Really? And if someone has little/no imagination or can't hold a clear picture in their head without thinking about random things?

Re:A simple formula: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38182078)

I seem to remember scientists coming up with a complicated formula for humour. Which would let you divide by zero. Now that was funny!

Hi Lester! (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182190)

or should I say Woody Allen?

bjd

I just hit myself in the head with a frypan (0)

GiantRobotMonster (1159813) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181544)

I was going to post something, but the above analysis has taken all the fun out of it.

FTFY (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181580)

From TFA:"Bizarrely, computer analysis of the data also showed that jokes containing 103 words were thought to be especially funny. The winning "hunters" joke was 102 words long.

[...] He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, so now what?

not all humor is about 'gaps' (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181586)

Plenty [youtube.com] of humor [youtube.com] (or satire [youtube.com] ) is about laughing at yourself in a normal everyday situation, but it works better when it's presented to you in a witty manner. I mean our everyday lives are funny and tragic, anything, from relationships, to work, to leisure, to death even. Tragedy and comedy are just two ends of the same stick.

Re:not all humor is about 'gaps' (-1, Troll)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181832)

Oh look, the local glibertardian posts borderline sociopathic drivel he considers humor. Ah hah, hah. I don't find it offensive, but seriously, you consider that stuff *witty*? Boring in a vaguely annoying way, due to lack of brains, that's all I can see there.

Re:not all humor is about 'gaps' (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181956)

Say, when did you come to realization that your nick is appropriate?

Re:not all humor is about 'gaps' (-1, Offtopic)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182198)

In a supremely ironic manner, the moment every fuckwit without a shred of an argument or a brain started to use it as an ad hominem.

Re:not all humor is about 'gaps' (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182208)

And no. You are not the first. Your supposed wit does not extend that far.

Re:not all humor is about 'gaps' (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182028)

All of your opinions are completely incorrect and mine reign supreme!

Re:not all humor is about 'gaps' (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182180)

No! ;)

Yet another piece of junk science ... (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181598)

yet rare or non-existent in the rest of the animal kingdom

The reason we don't see it so much in the animal kingdom is two-fold:
1. We're lousy observers, bringing our presumptions with us;
2. There's fewer opportunities.

To make the claim that it's rare or even non-existent (in other words, you don't even know) with zero proof (and something that's contradicted by observation of animals at play or interactions of animals and their owners) is just plain junk.

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181720)

I'm sure they conducted extension interviews with animals before announcing their findings. Honestly, when was the last time you heard an animal tell a joke?

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181856)

Animals do tell jokes after they've been taught sign language though. Gorilla humor seems to involve a lot of jokes about monkeys.

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181904)

When's the last time you saw an animal do something just for fun? From squirrels teasing dogs (they do it in the wild all the time, and I used to have a pet squirrel that would jump on my Newfie's tail, then his head, then hop back to my shoulder or go running around my legs at the knee, just to tease him.

Sure, the dog could have just waited until the squirrel stopped and then killed him, but he never did.

Same squirrel - I'd be typing away, and every once in a while he'd quickly hop on the keyboard to insert a few extra characters. Then he'd stand there and look at me, and I'd poke him lightly in the nose trying to get him to understand "don't do that!" He understood - he also understood that he could get away with it.

The more intelligent birds do it too. Get yourself a pet crow - crows also are tool-makers, as are several other animals, so it's not surprising to see that they can also be intentionally funny. Humour, even slapstick, is the way we deal with aggressive impulses less destructively. All humour has an element of meanness in it, from teasing to outright "nasty show" stuff.

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38182026)

Honestly, when was the last time you heard an animal tell a joke?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9gHZPDh12g [youtube.com]

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181726)

I feel like I've observed some form of humor in animals. When my dog play-attacks and hops around and goes nuts, it's obviously a fabricated reaction just for fun, and isn't that the root of a great deal of humor?

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181838)

My brother insists that dogs have a sense of humor, but that they prefer crude practical jokes. His example is a David Lynch movie where a man's hand gets chopped off and a dog picks it up and runs off with it. The dog knows the guy wants his hand, and gets special joy from stealing it.

Yes, it's just a movie... but I've seen enough real life examples not to dismiss it.

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181922)

Their reaction would be "Oh but were too sophisticated now to include slapstick as humour - get back to your black and white silent movies, you ignorant clod!"

Or "Tsk, tsk, you're just anthropomorphizing their behaviour ..."

Of course, they have no research data to back up their claim that animals don't have a sense of humour, but "that's obvious", just like it was "obvious" that the earth is flat and the center of the universe.

Re:Yet another piece of junk science ... (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181926)

Yeah, some time back I was thinking that perhaps while creatures like amoebas and ants might not be smart, they might not actually be that stupid.

But how are they going to show their intelligence given their limitations? You're not going to be able to communicate an IQ quiz to them.

Same goes for humour - they might find things funny, but what do you expect them to say to you?

I do know that at least some dogs have a sense of humour. I believe other animals have too. Especially animals that play. Even rats play, and some think they even laugh when tickled: http://www.livescience.com/6946-joke-animals-laugh.html [livescience.com]

So that's why (1)

suspiciously_calm (2490714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181608)

So that's why FAIL is LOL.

Animal humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181622)

Animals may have a sense of humor. They just can't tell jokes because they can't speak.

My friend's dog used to hide in wait for the neighbor's cat. The cat would come round the corner of the house, face to face with the dog. The dog would woof loudly and the cat would flee over the fence. The dog didn't bother to chase the cat. He just seemed to enjoy the joke.

Re:Animal humor (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38182090)

Over the years, I've had, and met, several dogs who liked to play jokes on people - barking just at the right time to startle them, one who liked to pull chairs away from people as they sat down, and my current dog, who finds great entertainment in breaking wind on house guests, but only if they react in surprise. I suspect that their claim of humor being rare or non-existent in the animal world was due to one of these:

1) Confirmation Bias - they decided the result, and then only accepted as valid evidence that supported their claim. This is usually the result of religious views that humans are "special" and thus animals need to be lessened by taking away permission for them to experience the world the way humans do. ("No, animals do not really feel pain! Also, uh, they don't understand jokes either! It's because my god didn't give them souls!")
2) Lack of experience with animals - they've never actually spent any time around animals, and are thus talking out of their asses (the posterior orifice, not the donkey)

The article and the joke (2)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181684)

Am I the only one who noticed that the 'funniest joke' wasn't all that funny... then read the rest of the article and wondered what they'd cut out to get the 102-word joke down to less than 80?

Just what could be in those 20-something words to make the joke so much funnier?

Re:The article and the joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38182006)

But also, they can't claim it is the "funniest" joke. What they should be claiming is that it is the joke that the most people found funny. The "funniest" joke might be known to only one person (or nobody!).

Anyway, my vote goes for something here [autocorrectfail.org] .

Re:The article and the joke (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182194)

I agree. My expectations were conditioned by this though: 'voted the funniest joke in the world by American men'. When I read the references to hunting and guns, my expectations were further bolstered, making it almost impossible for the joke itself to engender surprise, since the context had already rendered me determinedly unsurprised. I found it ironic that the article relied on American men to judge the best joke in the world. I wonder how many different countries supplied contestants, and who translated them.

This is one of my favorites (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181688)

“We don't allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here,” says the bartender.

A neutrino walks into a bar.

Funny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181734)

That joke was so funny, I read the paragraph after the joke had ended expecting the punchline to be there.

Did they use multiple choice to come up with "the funniest joke"? How bad were all the other jokes? Calling that the funniest joke "in the world" to American men is idiotic, there are millions of jokes, they could not possibly of tested them all. They used a very small subset selected by a person or group of people who obviously weren't comedians.

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181790)

...wyTkon cmeeTcr haA bamn!!!

My dog watches Seinfeld (2)

TheTruthIs (2499862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181806)

My dog watches Seinfeld but I don't know if it's for the jokes.

Humor in animals (2)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181852)

If you think humor or "mirth" is rare or missing in animals you haven't been paying attention, or you're too concerned with your colleges accusations of anthropomorphism.

103 words (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38181868)

According to the funniest-joke-in-the-world article, jokes with 103 words were considered especially funny, however the winning joke has 102 words. That supports my opinion that the joke works a little better if you change the line to "First, let's make sure he's really dead." It's a more plausible phrasing that makes the emergency-services person's intention clearer (to the audience), but works equally well when misunderstood by the hunter.

Re:103 words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38181966)

The joke is far funnier if you just remove the paragraph explaining it to dumb Americans. It was obvious to me that the emergency services guy was asking him to kill his friend.

Comedy Central "news" shows for propaganda reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38182054)

I don't know how to spell, Colbert? Or the other guy, but they use jokes to make you laugh your way into socialist ideologies. Purely propaganda.

I guess more animals have humour than one believes (3, Insightful)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182138)

It is likely hard to test how humorous animals are as their mimic is hard to rate or nto at all. E.g. a raven who has just stolen the food of another raven, hiding behind a bush and watching the other raven upset jumping around the hiding place. If you see how the watching raven is behaving you get easy the impression he is laughing his ass off. However without a brain scan we can not "proof" this (providing we can figure where the humour center / laughing center in bird brain is).

I mean every few years we get surprised by some research that says: figured that a lizard can learn under wich cup the reward is, and that every mistake of choosing the cup leads to a longer waiting time for the next "test + reward". Doh, so an animal with a brain of the size of to rice corns can learn.

With birds, especially doves, they made experiments about counting and simple arithmetic. You have two bowls with a few grains. And a switch that can be activated with the peak of the bird. The test is to let the bird peek on that switch as often as the sum of the two bowls of grains are. The birds learned that pretty fast. One particular case is this: the dove stopped in front of the switch. It had figured it either has miscounted or miscalculated. So it went back to the bowls (now empty) and repeated the pickings in each bowl and "calculated/counted" again. Then it activated the switch successful.

Or you now about this parrot, where a researcher taught a few hundred words? The parrot started to correct other parrots when they practiced "speech". He could understand and make simple english sentences, like "I want to go into the garden", "Give me apple".

My assumption is that most live is able to learn, a smaller amount is "intelligent" to a certain level, and a smaller part is so intelligent that it also has humour. The question is more: why is everyone neglecting this and assuming that we humans are unique?

Another story: a cat is proudly prancing on the top of a roof. It slipped and avalanched down the roof into the roof gutter/rain pipe. After it landed it hid in the gutter for a moment (5 - 6 seconds) then it carefully stuck its head out and watched around: "did someone see me?" was written on her forehead. When she was sure no one saw her she continued to "prance" along the rain pipe ... if she had no humour, how can she be felt ashamed of falling down the roof?

Duck jokes are particularly funny. This is my best (3, Funny)

drumlight (1244276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182146)

How do you make a duck soulful?

Put it in the microwave till it's Bill Withers.
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