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  • [MUSIC]

  • So Einstein finally finished that theory about space he's been working on.

  • It's about time, too. Right?

  • [laughter]

  • Any of you know how to throw a space party? I guess you just planet!

  • [laughter]

  • Celebrity gossip! Oxygen and magnesium are dating. O-Mg!

  • [laughter]

  • On the surface, laughter appears to be an unconscious, instantaneous reaction to something

  • that pleases us rather than displeases us,

  • but laughter is actually much more complicated than that,

  • and it has surprisingly little to do with the human sense of humor.

  • Now, I promise for the rest of this video, I'm only going to make science punsperiodically.

  • [MUSIC]

  • Laughter is one of those rare and beautiful things shared by people all over Earth,

  • a human experience that transcends borders of language, geography, and lifestyle.

  • No one has to teach us to laugh, and people everywhere do it pretty much the same way.

  • But it’s also really, really strange. [laughing]

  • Squeezing up your face and gnashing your teeth at other people while uncontrollably grunting

  • and hyperventilating, that’s a very weird thing to do. Youre weird. Were all weird.

  • Laughing isn’t that different from breathing. We have incredibly fine muscle control over

  • how we let out breath, it’s what lets us make the intricate and detailed vocal noises

  • that we call speech.

  • But while we write out laughter with ha ha ha, it’s not really something we speak.

  • If I actually laughed likeHA HA HAthen laughter would be even weirder than it already is

  • and like I said, plenty weird.

  • Laughing is this sort ofheh heh hehpercussive air squeezing,

  • maybe the simplest vocal noise we can make.

  • If we think of talking like playing human bagpipes, constant pressure and intricate control,

  • then laughing like one of those silly little horns.

  • Think humans are the only animals that laugh? Not by a long shot. Primates do it,

  • dogs do a form of laughter, even rats do it. Yes, even rats.

  • The folks from Radiolab got it on tape.

  • [sound of rat "laughing"]

  • In animals, sometimes it’s associated with tickling, sometimes with play,

  • but laughing is almost always social.

  • Same goes for us. Humans laugh for a number of reasons, but most of the time it has nothing

  • to with funny business. Researchers like Robert Provine have found, after listening to hundreds

  • of people laugh in social situations, less than 1 in 5 chuckles are in response to humor,

  • and when a joke is involved, the person telling it is far more likely to be the one laughing.

  • Were also 30 times more likely to laugh with other people around than if were are alone.

  • If laughter is a form of communication, then what are we trying to say?

  • We do it to communicate understanding, to show we like and accept others,

  • to diffuse awkward situations, and yes, sometimes even to be mean.

  • On January 30, 1962, at a boarding school in Tanzania, three young girls started giggling.

  • Their laughter spread throughout the school, uncontrollably, and ultimately 95 students

  • experienced laughing fits. One even laughed for 16 days straight.

  • As a result of thisomuneepothe school was temporarily closed, but the laughing spread

  • to the girls home villages, eventually this side-splitting mystery infected hundreds of people

  • before dying out as suddenly as it began.

  • Like yawning, laughter is surprisingly contagious, kind of like a behaviour germ.

  • Were much more likely to catch laughter from people we know,

  • which just goes to show how much more it is about bonding than humor.

  • In close relationships, couples who use laughter to cope with stressful situations tend to

  • stay together longer and report higher satisfaction. Laughter apparently helps us love.

  • "Laughing exercise for the heart and mind. What you can do? Just laugh. Very easy.

  • Don't feel shy!"

  • [laughter]

  • Laughter is amazingly hard to fake, and our brains are really good at telling the difference.

  • Listen to these clips and see if you can tell which one is real and which one is fake.

  • [laughter]

  • Younger people are less able to tell real laughter from fake laughter, but they are

  • more susceptible to contagious laughter, which is maybe why it’s easy to make a baby do

  • this.

  • [laughter]

  • But if we are so good at telling real from fake laughter, and laughter is ultimately

  • a form of communication, then why do we laugh at movies?

  • [laughter]

  • In the higher-order parts of our brain, were consciously awared that the actors we are watching are not present with us,

  • and that they are pretending.

  • But maybe the fact that we can laugh at what we know to be fake is the ultimate case of suspending our disbelief,

  • when we watch something on a screen, we really do believe the people

  • are right there with us, and that we know them, at least in some way.

  • Maybe we should all try and laugh more, and with each other.

  • It’s not only a way to feel better, but feel better together.

  • Stay curious.


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B1 US laughter laughing heh humor people weird

Why Do We Laugh?

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    Vivi Lee posted on 2015/08/04
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