Monday, May 23, 2005

Is Your Right Frontal Lobe Not Working...

or are you just an idiot?

Just read a report on an awesome study that shows why some people don't get sarcasm.

From the Seattle P.I. here's a little excerpt:

The psychologists write in the May issue of the journal Neuropsychology that for sarcasm to register, the listener must grasp the speaker's intentions in the context of the situation. This calls for both sophisticated social thinking and appreciating a "theory of mind," that different people think different thoughts.

"To detect sarcasm, irony and jokes, and to better understand what people mean when they talk, we must have empathy," said researcher Simone Shamay-Tsoory of the University of Haifa and lead author of the study.

To get these results, neuropsychologists actually gave subjects tests to determine if they could pick up sarcasm in a given script. One example they gave was a work situation where a guy was, say, sleeping at his desk, and his boss comes by and says, "This is just the kind of can-do attitude we look for in an employee. Good work!"
People with damage to their frontal lobe were hard-pressed to figure out the boss' true meaning with his comments.

According to the study, it takes a sophisticated thought process to detect sarcasm, which makes me wonder: Are there more instances of brain damage on the West Coast versus the East Coast? Would that explain why all my friends from New York complain that people in LA don't get sarcasm?

And might it be possible that our president's frontal lobe is damaged? Maybe when he hears, "You're doing a great job in Iraq," he thinks, "I'm doing a great job in Iraq." Just floating that out as a suggestion, some food for thought.

Truth be told, I LOVE the direction our country is going. We're definitely on the right track toward achieving worldwide peace.

But getting back to the article, the examples they used to test this theory were rather basic and, I hate to say, not very funny at all. For their next batch of tests, I think they should run the questions by comedians to be punched up a bit. And each example would be a little more complex than the one preceding it until, finally, they'd reach an Andy Kaufman level of understanding.


Pall Mall said...

I live in San Francisco, where everyone is so sarcastic that people don't know if the person they are talking to is being sarcastic anymore. I think people here must have some sort of extra brain damage.

santana said...

Gee Laura that blog sure was informative. Hope your frontal lobe is working if you read that.

Butternut said...

I didn't get this story at all. My boss always tells me how I do a great job and am total unreplaceable.

I'm going to fake my own death now.

Yogifish said...

Sarcastic comedy is mean spirited because it needs the person that's the focus of the joke to be clueless.

I have been the victim of many dangerous and life threatening sarcastic jokes. I can no longer hear out of my left ear, I can no longer ride a city bus without urinating on myself, and my dog died of embarassment.

Let's put an end to this crime amd send a letter to your congressman, or woman, to ban sarcastic jokes in America. And let's get free weed for everyone too.

Behm-Azis said...

LOL, I get your point Swish. I was born in New York but I'm living in Tennnessee now and you should hear the sarcasim down this way. Oh it's a whole new ball game here. Most people here will sound like they are insulting you but they are actually giving you the highest compliment. I'll admit it took me a minute to "get it" but once I did I felt more relaxed that I wasn't being laughed at, rather takin in as family. Different strokes for diffenrent folks I guess, what would you call it? Holla

Antonio Gramsci said...

btw, what was the deal with "Billionaires for Bush" thing? That seems like a bad way to try to support our president.