July 9, 2008

Theorist Says Humor is Pattern Recognition

A British science writer says he has determined humor is just the recognition of a pattern that a person finds surprising.

Humor occurs when the brain recognizes a pattern that surprises it and that recognition of this sort is rewarded with the experience of the humorous response, an element of which is broadcast as laughter, said researcher and theorist Alastair Clarke. It is not the content of the stimulus but the patterns underlying it, that provide the potential for sources of humor. For patterns to exist it is necessary to have some form of content but once that content exists, it is the level of the pattern at which humor operates and for which it delivers its rewards.

Clarke also predicts the use of his hypothesis will facilitate the creation of a less robotic form of artificial intelligence.

Clarke's theory is detailed in his book The Pattern Recognition Theory of Humor published by Pyrrhic House and presented for those who work in or comment on related fields. The book, which includes analysis of examples of humor from Chaucer to Monty Python, will be published in October.