Home » Intelligent Design » Darwinian Mechanisms Explain Everything — Even Laughter!

Darwinian Mechanisms Explain Everything — Even Laughter!

I got a chuckle (make that a bellylaugh) out of this article: http://foxnews.webmd.com/content/article/120/113762

Get out your notepad and check off the evolutionary presuppositions, like the notion that laughter predates speech. Make special note of speculation presented as fact.

Be aware that the Provine mentioned in this article is not William, but Robert. Here are some excerpts:

Provine argues it has to do with the evolutionary development of laughter. In humans, laughter predates speech by perhaps millions of years. Before our human ancestors could talk with each other, laughter was a simpler method of communication, he tells WebMD.

The answer lies in the evolutionary function of laughter.

The other type of laughter comes from parts of the brain that developed more recently, in evolutionary terms.

Laughter can ease tension and foster a sense of group unity. This could have been particularly important for small groups of early humans.

So sitcoms — or anything else — seem funnier to us when we hear other people laughing at them. We’ve evolved to be that way.

The spontaneous laughter originates in part from the brainstem, an ancient part of the brain. So it might be a more original form of laughter. The other type of laughter comes from parts of the brain that developed more recently, in evolutionary terms.

“The ‘ha, ha’ noise of human laughter,” Provine tells WebMD, “ultimately has its origins in the ritualized panting laughter of our primate ancestors.”

So if not at jokes, what do animals — and what did our ancestors — laugh at? According to Provine, animal “laughter” follows tickling, rough and tumble play, or chasing games. Apes laugh at some of the same things that make infants laugh. While babies aren’t known for subtle wit, they will squeal and laugh when you chase them or tickle them. In all likelihood, early adult humans — before they started telling jokes — laughed at the same sort of thing.

Which leads us to an interesting conclusion: Since laughter predates speech, the first human laugh predated the first joke by hundreds or [sic] thousands of years, if not millions.

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4 Responses to Darwinian Mechanisms Explain Everything — Even Laughter!

  1. He (or she) who laughs last, laughs best!

  2. Don’t forget that lying is an evolutionary advantage.

  3. I sure did laugh a bit while reading it:

    - “The answer lies in the evolutionary function of laughter. Laughter is social; it’s not a solo activity, says Provine.”

    - “So sitcoms — or anything else — seem funnier to us when we hear other people laughing at them. We’ve evolved to be that way.”

    - “The other type of laughter comes from parts of the brain that developed more recently, in evolutionary terms.”

    - “The ‘ha, ha’ noise of human laughter,” Provine tells WebMD, “ultimately has its origins in the ritualized panting laughter of our primate ancestors.”

    - “Some researchers have found laugh-like behavior in other animals, even in the rat.

  4. 4
    GlennJ - Houston

    An analysis of Griffin’s article with selected quotes from the “Encyclopedia Mythica” at http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/mythology.html.
    (My comments surrounded by **- and -**.)

    ….
    **-Some might say Morgan Griffin’s article is NOT myth because the word “myth”–as it is ordinarily used–means unreal or imaginary story.

    Griffin’s article, of course, ISN’T a fable. Or is it?

    The definition of “myth” as it is understood by “mythologists” (anthropologists who study myths) is more technical-**

    “…the word “myth” [is] defined as a story of…vague origin…which seeks to explain or rationalize one or more aspects of the world or a society.” **-Griffin’s article does this. It is vague. He has absolutely NO scientific evidence whatsoever for his assertions; his narrative is a speculative explanation of a particular aspect of nature rooted in a certain metaphysical framework.-**

    “…all myths are, at some stage, actually believed to be true by the peoples of the societies that used or originated the myth.” **-Griffin’s article obviously is believed not only by himself, but also by the editors at WebMD and doubtless many others.-**

    “A myth is also distinctly different from an allegory or parable which is a story deliberately made up to illustrate some moral point but which has never been assumed to be true by anyone.” **-Griffin’s is not an allegory. It is a pathetically real attempt to explain the origin of laughter.-**

    “Broadly speaking myths and mythologies seek to rationalize and explain….Systems of myths have provided a cosmological and historical framework for societies….” **-Darwinian mythology very definitely provides a “cosmological and historical framework” for the modern, secular society.-**

    “Creation myths provide an explanation of the origin of the universe…. They are an important part of most mythological systems. Creation myths often invoke primal gods and animals **-(or cavemen in this case)-** [and] titanic struggles between opposing forces **-(survival of the fittest in this case)-**….” **-Griffin’s article defines this framework. The article seeks to explain origins, it invokes primal cavemen and it repeats the theme of the struggle of life and death–survival of the fittest.-**

    **-
    Why some choose and enjoy the Darwinian myth system, I don’t know. Maybe it is because in it they perceive themselves to be the epitomy of evolutionary development, the very summits of the long struggle for survival from the primordial soup. Or maybe, they just don’t like the alternative–that there is a higher power.

    Griffin has no proof. His conjecture is not science. Perhaps his narrative is understood best as mythology.
    -**

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