What is Humor?

I was thinking about it… I have no idea what humor is. Can you define it? I certainly can’t.

But I do think I know why it is. It must have evolved as a mechanism of psychological evaluation so that you can measure how well your peers understand you and how well you understand them. I can’t define humor, but if I can make you laugh, then I demonstrate that I have a relatively high fidelity mental model of your though process. Having a good shared mental model was historically quite beneficial for survival. If I can make you laugh, then in a group hunting scenario, there’s a higher chance that I can predict your behavior and act accordingly so that the group acts more like a coordinated whole rather than disconnected individuals. So a sense of humor as a test for “how well you understand me” was a fantastic evolutionary adaptation!

As civilization evolved and nomadic humans organized into larger and more complex societies, the hunting scenario was replace with military scenarios. A group connected by a shared sense of humor would likely have an advantage. You might even say that a good pun could have stopped Atilla the Hun.

Did I make you giggle? 😃


Oh well, maybe I have something else to offer the society. 😣

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