The Attractive Error / Computer Theory of Humor

The Attractive Error – Alastair Clarke. link

‘As members of this species are more reliant than any other for the inheritance of their behavioural instruction on culturally rather than genetically transmitted data, the desire to identify and pursue the sources of new memes represents an advantageous adaptation.’

In The Attractive Error Alastair Clarke describes humour in relation to his Information Normalization Theory. This seems to centre on the notion that adaptability and humour are very much alike and can be seen as two of the most important aspects of humanity. As we are continually subjected to information we must have a method of filtering it, so that important information is retained and unimportant or dangerous information is recognised. He suggests humour is a reward system for recognising misinformation.He goes on to show how certain factors effect this perception specifically novelty, evidence, attraction and relevance.

Interestingly, studies on the brain that show that funny video’s shown o children created high activity at the temporal-occipital-parietal junction, a brain area that processes perceived incongruities and in  the brain’s mesolimbic regions, which process rewards. (Stanford University school of medicine link).

Computer Theory of Humor

In biological systems, a sense of humor inevitably develops in the course of evolution, because its biological function consists in quickening the transmission of the processed information into consciousness and in a more effective use of brain resources.

According to this theory, the humor has a pure biological origin, while its social functions arose later. This conclusion corresponds to the known fact that already monkeys (as pointed by Charles Darwin) and even rats (as found recently) possess the sense of humor.

This theory is another Incongruity theory, which Clarke’s ideas also fall under. Deletion of a false(incongrous) version after a possible malfunction results in excessive energy of neurons being thrown out to the motor cortex, resulting in physical contractions – thereby laughter.



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