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Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why

Scott Weems

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Prose: non-fiction, Psychology

An entertaining tour of the science of humour and laughter

humour, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny,and why?In this fascinating investigation into the science of humour 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 humour in terms of jokes or comic timing, in Ha! Weems proposes a provocative new model. humour 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 humour, 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 humour 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 humour in our brains to its life on the standup comedy circuit, this book offers a delightful tour of why humour is so important to our daily lives.

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