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Reply Sat 2 Mar, 2013 08:15 pm
Freud in his introduction to his book 'Jokes and their relation to the unconscious' wrote:

"Is the subject of jokes worth so much trouble? There can, I think, be no doubt of it. Leaving on one side the personal motives which make me wish to gain an insight into the problems of jokes and which will come to light during the course of these studies, I can appeal to the fact that there is an intimate connection between all mental happenings - a fact which guarantees that a psychological discovery even in a remote field will be of unpredictable value in other fields."

I could not agree with him more, and although I disagree with some of his ideas on the subject, I found that by attempting to unravel the intricate relationship between laughter and the joke, I had to take many factors into consideration. These included ideas from neurology, psychology, physiology and behavior.

For anyone who is interested in the topic, and wish to discuss any points I raise, I have a long essay at:

Edit [Moderator]: Link removed
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 08:23 pm
Knock Knock...
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 09:46 pm
cats4kiss wrote:

Knock Knock...

Me, Basil Hugh Hall. and if you want to read and comment on my ideas, Google:
"Laughter as an exapted displacement activity: the implications for humor theory"
Reply Tue 19 Mar, 2013 12:03 pm
I think there may be a close connection between humor and cognitive dissonance. Babies first laughs seem to correspond to times when there is a combination of trust with fear.

Daddy throws me in the air... but I trust Daddy not to drop me.

As we "progress" our humour/cognitive dissonances become more subtle.
Irony etc...
The work of Douglas Hostadter makes some oblique mention of this.
Paradox is more his cup of tea.

I will see if I can find a lecture on the subject, I recall seeing one on youtube.
Reply Tue 19 Mar, 2013 12:07 pm
Humor also is of course deeply connected to beauty and other aesthetics.
Here's Hostadter at a Stanford Presidential lecture:

You can private message the link to your paper if you would like.
Reply Tue 19 Mar, 2013 02:20 pm
Hi Matt. Cognitive dissonance is the equivalent of "incongruity" in the parlance of those who back the incongruity resolved theory of humor.

As for "tossing the baby" is concerned, I believe you to be correct.

"Our organismal reaction to falling is fear, and a young child's screams of laughter when being tossed into the air by a trusted adult is an indication that the fear response is being opposed by the child's tacit knowledge that he is in no danger. If the child is tossed by an adult with whom he is merely acquainted, he may not laugh at all, and, as his fear level rises unopposed, his response becomes a communicative crying for help."

I prefer to use the word conflict. Cognitive dissonance only deals with one form of conflict. The baby tossing example is itself not cognitive dissonance, but a conflict between cognition and emotion.

You can make a young child laugh by telling them that a very small ball you are holding is very large. That is a case of cognitive dissonance, or as I would put it cognitive conflict. Some jokes induce conflicting emotions that lead to laughter. Linguists in the field of humor have tended to ignore the emotive aspect of humor and so have a limited understanding of the neurophysiological nature of laughter and its relationship to humor.
Reply Tue 19 Mar, 2013 02:33 pm
Matt, I am new here. How do I send you a message?
Reply Thu 21 Mar, 2013 02:51 pm
I am relatively new here as well.
In the upper right corner of the page, you will see [Inbox] to the right of "BasilHugh". That is where private messages will appear.
If you click on my name you will go to a profile page.
On the right of this you will see the profile picture, beneath which are several options including [message user].
I will send you a message you can look for it in the [inbox]
Very Happy
Actually I did attempt that, but you are registered only under [Groups] it appears. There is a separate tab (near top) for [Forums]. If you register there as well, then I believe you will have messaging capabilities.
The link to your paper was removed because, academic and/or financial self-promotion is just about the only rule on A2K.
I am not an administrator of the site, you might try posting it as a comment now, rather than as your opening remark in a discussion.
I am not exactly sure how the rules are determined.
I think that my expressing interest might be enough for it to not appear self-promotional.
Reply Thu 21 Mar, 2013 03:04 pm
BasilHugh wrote:
Linguists in the field of humor have tended to ignore the emotive aspect of humor and so have a limited understanding of the neurophysiological nature of laughter and its relationship to humor.

I agree that "conflict" would be a better description of the phenomena. I also agree that emotive vs. cognitive is a division which is grey at best. Such a distinction is of course nothing unique in philosophy or psychology.
I suppose I am a little unclear of the foundation under which you are presenting without first reading your paper.
I did assume a form of scientific realism, as your starting epistemology (due to your background in zoology).
Reply Thu 21 Mar, 2013 03:55 pm
In this form of communication it is impossible to convey the complexities of humor and laughter. I can only register once so registering for forums is not possible. Anyway, I will try again. I think you will find much to stimulate your mind in the essay.
Reply Sun 30 Jun, 2013 04:55 pm
Isn't it a little over-burdensome as well as unnecessary to find a connection with such things as laughter to either Freudian psychology or evolutionary theory, upon which much of Freudian psychology is rooted. This orthodoxy has given us a universal, first principle, for everything concerning human behavior ... a Ruling Paradigm, in other words.

Currently, there seems to be a backlash in the scientific community by those scientists taking exception to framing everything in such crude and simplistic terms, though this has been the tendency ever since Darwin and Freud. Everything gets thrown back to either of these two Giants. But it's gone to the point of extreme absurdity, with all this attempt at pseudo-interpretations of our collective experience, and the underlying causes driving this experience.

People laugh at a joke because the stupid joke is sometimes funny. What more does anyone have to know? If anything makes sense, it's a good joke. It tells us not to take life too seriously. It tells us to try and loosen up, and relax. Think too seriously, without taking a few seconds off now and then to laugh, and you might end up hijaking a plane and directing it at a tall building, or taking some ammo out of the drawer and loading up an M-16 to go people hunting with. The world is full of nothing but serious people, even attempting to analyze laughter, and look at how absolutely screwed up our world is. We need a comedian in the White House! And another one to take over control of North Korea, to get those morons over there to loosen up.

They call me Cyclops because I sprinkle people parts over my cereal for breakfast, roast them in the barbeque for lunch, and cut the left over bits into a stew for dinner. How about coming over to my place for a snack?
Reply Wed 21 Dec, 2022 10:49 pm
Hahahah = (1) I can see that it's inadequate, (2) but not that inadequate in this situation.
Smile is hidden teeth as false defensive aggression or just renewed confidence. Laughter is the same + demonstrative free breath.

You can keep in mind what is adequate (socially acceptable) because you have imagination as human being. When you encounter something inadequate, you may want to show that you have experienced false alarm rather than just alarm or no alarm at all; your emotion is demonstrative renewed confidence – false defensive aggression: hidden teeth, sometimes demonstrative free breath.

Humor as the cultivation of false inconsistencies allows you to depreciate some dangers, from your inadequate impulses, from the intellectually relaxing spontaneous crazy thinking to violence, to what of the outside seems wrong to you.
Irony: "It's inadequate and it can be sincere!"
Post-irony: "It seems sincere!!"
Meta-irony: "It is (partly) sincere!!!"

Sources: psychoanalysis (Freud), an article with false alarm theory of laughter (, my speculation
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2022 09:17 am
To be more precise, smile is restrained aggression as a grin with a mouth that isn't going to bite; laughter is a vocal message that simultaneously demonstrates that breathing is restrained (fragmented) and free, i.e., probably that you don't have a problem restraining it because its aggression is weak.

Smiling parent and baby say to each other, "That's the way we humans prefer to handle our aggressive energy with each other." They don't say "I thought you were weird" every time.

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