3.5 years ago I wrote: Nerds essentially have “Autism light,” i.e., high intelligence and low social skills. … Nerds cooperate pretty effectively all the time on large software and other engineering projects. … [But are] worse at judging which coalition to join when, which associates may betray them or have done so, when and how to betray associates, what lies to tell, what threats will be credible and appropriate, and so on. … [Nerds are] preyed upon by those with better social skills. … Spouses could more easily get away with cheating on nerds, and business partners could more easily get away with reneging on implicit understandings.
"Win systematically"? This really depends on the society. In some societies especially humid and hot ones nerds are often weeded out by evolution. In others especially ones with cold winters nerds are rewarded for nerdism and survive.
In a war of all against all this is a fair subconscious tactic. Everybody is trying to dominate everybody else.
Want to know what nerds feel like? Hop over to Japan, and stick some chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice. It's fun and it's offensive. Nerds are perfectly well-adjusted in their own country, but are like foreigners in normal country.
The locals at least chalk it up to you being a tourist and forgive you. I think normals are equally forgiving of nerds, up until the nerds say they're better. Then it's like Americans being...well, anywhere.
Is America really the ideal for folks?Is a rejection of froufrou socials the pinnacle of human evolution?
No and no.
It is tautology to assume that failure is necessarily the result of fault. It is equally likely that arbitrarily assigned social position is hard to shift, leaving the mocked withdrawn and the mocking confident.
Good point. My guess is that laughter has some basic functions shared by those mammals, and in the case of humans it has been exapted to serve other functions as well.
My own sense, from comic East Side Dave (on either Ron & Fez Show or Special Delivery Show)is that it breaks down:
Nerd: Smart in useful (but not socially popular) areas and comes across as arrogant about it (He's got a 4.0 GPA in computer science -what a nerd.)Geek: Nonthreateningly hyper literate in a not socially popular area, not an evangelist about it (I'm a social science blog geek -it's embarrassing).Dork: Enthusiastic and positively deviantly literate in a not socially popular area, and highly evangelistic about it (Are you two dorks still yapping about World of Warcraft?).I agree with Patton Oswalt's essay in Wired that that these concepts have been corrupted by the internet and the masses.But one can still be a Nerd, a Geek, or a Dork when it comes to the academic blogosphere. I doubt discussing p values will mainstream prior to more powerful neural enhancement or ems.
No one in this thread is interested in building off of evidence that laughter is mammalian and primate rather than just human?
outside of my post, the sense that I'd get from this thread is that laughter is the province only of humans, and that explanations are cultural or grounded solely in natural/sexual selection in human populations.
should read "because OF these"
I tend to forget the details of natural and sexual selection dogma, but isn't this part unecessary to your hypothesis according to the dogma: "Such men have good working brains and are less likely to exhibit mood disorders."
My general sense is that we as a species are far more charming and pretty than we are existential risk minimizing because these sexual selection effects.
Maybe I am not trying hard enough for a sympathetic reading.
However, when someone points at what looks to me a lot like a complex adaptation and claims its essence is "our sheer joy" I sometimes find it hard to avoid rolling my eyeballs.
Or the two theories could be compatible. Humor is sexually attractive because high status men use it to signal their skill at social maneuvering and covert norm violation well.
Humor is a sexually selected trait. Women like men with a GSOH. Such men have good working brains and are less likely to exhibit mood disorders. IMO, this is the main idea that any "sheer joy" hypothesis has to compete with.
Re: "As I’ve hinted at before, and will elaborate more on later, I think the essence of humor is our sheer joy at playing homo hypocritus well."
I would council checking carefully the existing theories about humor before going there.
daedaulus2u, Hanson is quite obviously a nerd himself. He is not using them as a target of abuse, but engaging in a form of consciousness raising identity politics. He actually seeks to raise the status of nerds by pointing out their talents at overtly useful skills, and their reduced proclivity for hypocrisy and conniving (those words don't have good connotations). Exposing someone's hypocrisy, and especially point out how they victimize those too innocent/virtuous to use dirty tactics, is a tactic to lower someone's status.
H.A, I've before only heard the phrase "promiscuous teleology" from here, but it sounds good (sidestepping the perhaps overrated issue of logical etymology) for your usage as well.
afterthought: Puns and shaggy dog stories and Lewis-Carroll-style nonsense can also be funny, and in many cases don't seem to involve status games. And the relevant subset of natural language for any given extract-the-meaning-of-this-statement problem is also, I'd guess, one of the most complicated logical systems that people analyze on a regular basis. (Though there's a lot of built-in support, so we don't think about it much.)
I agree that humor is usually all tied up with social status. However, I'm not convinced that that's an essential element. We seem to be able to find humor in absurd misunderstanding even in those (admittedly rare) cases when I can't see any possible social status involved. Well-known examples include Rube Goldberg machines and Bambi Meets Godzilla. Private examples include finding humor in a software bug which happens to escapes detection by an unreasonable number of coincidences. (Admittedly Bambi and Godzilla will be anthropomorphized by viewers, so one might wonder whether their status drives the humor. But I think the humor would be similar in a short called "The Birth of the Solar System" showing planets coalescing smoothly out of swirling gas ... then being utterly annihilated by collision with two or three overwhelmingly larger objects ... then panning 400 light years to the left to where the actual solar system coalesces.)
Perhaps part of the observed tie to social status is driven in part by how we have so much wired-in support for thinking about social relationships, and so much practice thinking about social relationships, that it's easier for us to think about sufficiently complicated social systems that we can find satisfyingly absurd situations there? Then it might not be a coincidence that in looking for examples of non-social laughable levels of absurdity I come up with (some) software bugs, because I could easily believe that most of the extremely complicated relationships that people think about are social relationships, and of the exceptions, a large fraction are software systems made practical by computer tech since 1960 or so.
(Then of course there's also the obvious tie that inducing or suggesting misunderstanding is an obvious way to be subversive, so anything involving misunderstanding or trickery is likely doomed to be tangled with status considerations.)