Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there any way to figure out what we really find funny? In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what's happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. Beginning with the premise that humor arises from inner conflict in the brain, Weems explores such issues as why surprise is so important for humor,why computers are terrible at recognizing what's funny, and why cringe-worthy stereotypes make us laugh the hardest. From the role of insult jokes to the benefit of laughing for our immune system responses, 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, amusing anecdotes (and even a few jokes), Ha! is a delightful tour of why humor is so important to our daily lives.
Reviews and Endorsements:
“Weems renders extensive research accessible for a wide audience.... Humor is a difficult, subjective topic of study, and while Weems doesn’t present major conclusions, the information is interesting and the commentary insightful.”
"Move over, Henri Bergson, Weems explains the science of laughter way more charmingly. Our neurons are still cracking up."
—Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar
"Scott Weems' Ha! is an excellent, non-technical and engaging introduction to the field of humor studies and a much needed book…. Clear, entertaining, and full of personal anecdotes that enliven the discussion."
—Salvatore Attardo, Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts, Texas A&M University, and editor-in-chief of Humor
“Scott Weems' book Ha! is a superb explanation of humor that is simultaneously entertaining and informative. I enjoyed every page, and at the end came away with new insight into what really makes things funny.”
—James A. Reggia, Professor of Computer Science, University of Maryland
About the Author:
Scott Weems is a researcher at University of Maryland, with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA. At the University of Maryland he has built a career studying the neuroscience of behavior, first at the Departments of Computer Science and Neurology, then working full time at the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL). Weems also has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University.