Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Twin Theory of Bad Humor Feedback

Every time Nate comes up with some absolutely bizarre joke, which is not infrequent, I put a little more credence into what I call the Twin Theory of Bad Humor Feedback. Basically it goes like this: much the way some young pairs of twins develop their own languages (or, sometimes, just some really weird accent) by mutually reinforcing whatever they're babbling back and forth to each other, the twins' sense of humor can be warped if it develops through mutual reinforcement. Allow me to illustrate with the help of some free vintage clip art from The Internet. You may click pictures to see them larger. Also, please note my intention to misuse the terms "positive feedback" and "negative feedback" out of intellectual laziness.

First, the normal scenario.

Fig. A.

This is the humor life that most people live, and, of course, over time it will effectively condition the sense of humor to conform to prevailing social norms. But now, posit two twins who share identical predispositions toward what is considered funny.

Fig. B.

This crude model represents only the beginning; from here follows a cascade of inadequately filtered humor attempts, flying back and forth indiscriminately.

Oddly the resulting condition seems primarily to afflict Nate, while it turns out that I'm pretty consistently hilarious. I've got some scientists looking into this.

Also, you know that irrational feeling that vintage clip art looks vaguely the way you do sometimes? What do you call that?


Blogger nate said...

Interesting theory. I think the missing piece in our case, though, is that while we long ago lost the strange twin accent (in fact I can't even imitate it anymore) our sense of humor remains, in your view, miscalibrated. I think your illustration of the feedback loop is missing some inputs from the outside world but I think there's some truth in your basic insight.

As for the eerie self-recognition you find in vintage clip art, the issue would seem to be that your haircut and grooming habits make you resemble a fresh-faced square from the early sixties, yes?

11/20/2008 9:15 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

Actually, before I even got to your self-awareness of the eerie familiarity of the clip art, I was thinking "Damn! That clip art looks almost just like them."

Maybe it's time to stop getting such square haircuts, guys.

11/20/2008 2:48 PM  

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