Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-engineer the Mind

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Some things are funny -- jokes, puns, sitcoms, Charlie Chaplin, The FarSide, Malvolio with his yellow garters crossed -- but why? Why does humor exist in thefirst place? Why do we spend so much of our time passing on amusing anecdotes, making wisecracks,watching The Simpsons? In Inside Jokes, Matthew Hurley, DanielDennett, and Reginald Adams offer an evolutionary and cognitive perspective. Humor, they propose,evolved out of a computational problem that arose when our long-ago ancestors were furnished withopen-ended thinking. Mother Nature -- aka natural selection -- cannot just order the brain to findand fix all our time-pressured misleaps and near-misses. She has to bribe the brain with pleasure.So we find them funny. This wired-in source of pleasure has been tickled relentlessly by humoristsover the centuries, and we have become addicted to the endogenous mind candy that ishumor.


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uses reverse humour to engineer the mind

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About the author (2011)

Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He is the author of Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (MIT Press, 2005, 2006) and other books.

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