The Science of When We Laugh and Why
By Scott Weems
Basic Books (AZ), Hardcover, 9780465031702, 230pp.
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what's happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically think of humor in terms of jokes or comic timing, in Ha Weems proposes a provocative new model. Humor arises from inner conflict in the brain, he argues, and is part of a larger desire to comprehend a complex world. Showing that the delight that comes with "getting" a punchline is closely related to the joy that accompanies the insight to solve a difficult problem, Weems explores why surprise is such an important element in humor, why computers are terrible at recognizing what's funny, and why it takes so long for a tragedy to become acceptable comedic fodder. From the role of insult jokes to the benefit of laughing for our immune system, Ha reveals why humor is so idiosyncratic, and why how-to books alone will never help us become funnier people.
Packed with the latest research, illuminating anecdotes, and even a few jokes, Ha lifts the curtain on this most human of qualities. From the origins of humor in our brains to its life on the standup comedy circuit, this book offers a delightful tour of why humor is so important to our daily lives.
Scott Weems' book HA! explores the science of when we laugh and why. He describes the part of your brain that's active when you laugh, and the controversy over whether ducks are funnier than chickens. More at NPR.org
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