Humor is the way that evolution tells us about the architecture of the brain
Twenty three million fifty two thousand ninety three
Daniel Dennett — American philosopher cognitivist, an ardent supporter of Darwin's theory and atheism explains on the example of the inversion mechanism, where did our love chocolate cake, why beauty sexier than chimpanzees and that the total of humor with a dirty diaper.
I travel the world c lectures on Darwin, and, as a rule, talk about unusual inversion of reasoning in his teaching. I especially like one passage written by a critic many years ago, and I want you to meet him.
"In Darwin's theory, with which we have to deal, Absolute Ignorance is the Creator. We can declare a fundamental principle of this system is the fact that in order to build a wonderful, perfect machine, don't need to know how to build it. The offer, upon closer examination, in a condensed form expresses the essence of the Theory and the meaning given to it by Mr. Darwin, who, by a strange permutation of the arguments, it seems, believes that Absolute Ignorance is fully able to replace the Absolute Wisdom in all the achievements of creative ability".
Absolutely accurate and unusual point of view. In a creationist pamphlet you can find a wonderful reference to this phenomenon as "Test # 2: do You know of any building that didn't have a Builder? Do you know of any painting that has no painter? Do you know of any car that didn't have a maker? If you answered "Yes" to any question above, please explain the details." It is a strange inversion of reasoning. You might think that the statement "design requires an intelligent Creator" makes sense. But Darwin showed that this is absolutely false.
"If you think first there was sweetness, and then we evolved to like sweetness, you all turned on its head — it's wrong. The opposite is true. The concept of "sweetness" was born in this context, and then it evolved".Today, however, I'm going to tell you about another strange inversion of Darwin — a daunting and, in some ways, no less important. It stands to reason from the series that we love chocolate cake because it is sweet. Guys go for girls because they are sexy. We love babies because they're adorable. And, of course, we laugh at jokes because they are funny. In fact, the opposite is true, and that Darwin showed us why.
Let's start with sweet. Our sense of sweet is, in fact, an evolved sugar detector. This is important because sugar is the energy source, and thus it is included in our taste preferences. That's why we love sugar. Honey is sweet because we like it, not "we like honey because it is sweet". In fact, in the honey there's nothing sweet. Even if you look at glucose molecules till you were blind, you wouldn't understand why they tasted sweet. You will have to look into our brains to understand why they are sweet. So if you think first there was sweetness, and then we evolved to like sweetness, you all turned on its head — it's wrong. The opposite is true. The concept of "sweetness" was born in this context, and then evolved.
Let's move on to girls. In these the young lady is not, in fact, nothing sexual. And it's even good, because if it is, then from nature, there would be a big problem. For example, how then do you get chimps to mate? You may think that there is one solution — hallucinations! Could be, but there's a shorter way. Just understand that chimpanzees are their parameters of attraction. That's all! More than six million years, we and chimpanzees evolved in different ways. We became bald-bodied, and, for one reason or another, but they don't. If we, too, were such as chimpanzees, then Bigfoot probably would be our main sex symbol.
Our sweet tooth has evolved from an intuitive preference for high-energy food. It was not conceived especially for chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is a "supernormal stimulus". This term belongs to Niko Tinbergen, who did his famous experiments with gulls. He found that that orange spot on the gull's beak to make a bigger and brighter then the Chicks will eat it stronger. For them it is a supernormal stimulus, so they love this spot. What we see in a chocolate cake? A supernormal stimulus to whet our natural preferences. Such supernormal stimuli are many. Chocolate cake — just one of them.
"Let's move on to girls. In these the young lady is not, in fact, nothing sexual. And it's even good, because if it is, then from nature, there would be a big problem. For example, how then do you get chimps to mate? You may think that there is one solution — hallucinations!"There are lots of supernormal stimuli for sexuality and for attraction in General. Here's a good example: it is very important that we love babies, and we can't be pushed to, say, a dirty diaper. Thus, children need to attract our affection and care. Incidentally, recent studies have shown that mothers prefer the smell of the dirty diapers of their own children. So nature works on many levels. If all children were like something with one eye in the middle, then evolution would have made such an image is the height of simplicity. This is an unusual inversion.
Finally about humor. The same story, only more difficult and overlooked. Speaking of humor, we have to think evolutionarily, you have to understand what hard inner work needs to be accomplished to give us this powerful, inbuilt reward for it in the form of laughter. So the nervous system rewards our brain. We use humor as a kind of neuroscientific analysis, including it and disabling it again and again. Hearing the joke, our brain is like turning the switch knob with "now it's not funny" "funnier now". Thus considering the humor that we can really learn something important about the functional architecture of the brain.