Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

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9780141002255: Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

Why do we laugh? Laughter has surprisingly little to do with jokes and funny stories. It is an ancient, unconsciously controlled vocal relic that co-exists with our relatively modern speech - a social, psychological and biological act which predates humour and is shared with our primate cousins, the great apes. In this fascinating book Robert Provine uses laughter as a powerful probe into human social relationships, revealing that tickling is a form of tactile communication, not a reflex; that women laugh more at men than vice-versa; that speakers laugh more than their audiences; and that laughter is mostly about relationships, not jokes.

Using the latest evidence, Provine describes laughter using sonic analysis and opera scores, evaluates whether you can 'laugh you way to health', considers what laughter shows about neuropathology, and suggests how to change environments to increase laughter. The first book to establish laughter as a topic of scientific worth, Laughter also includes such esoterica as the history of holy laughter, laughing gas, canned laughter, and a description of the Tanganyikan laughter epidemic that immobilized an entire school district in 1962.

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Review:

Is it really the best medicine? Neurobiologist Robert R. Provine discovered that no scientist had ever looked into the weird, uncontrollable, and very human phenomenon of laughter, so he started off on his own. Laughter: A Scientific Investigation is his warm and--of course--funny report on how and why we giggle and snort with such regularity. Basing his views on field research conducted in a broad array of social situations (laughter being notoriously difficult to evoke in the laboratory), he posits that we use it as a universal, preverbal means of communication. Though animal research is controversial, it suggests that apes establish and maintain relationships using laugh-like behaviour, so it could be the missing link between animal communication and true language. He also explores instances in which we seem to laugh our way into and out of social situations, and includes a list of tips for keeping the laughs flowing. The irony of the scientific community not taking laughter seriously isn't lost on Provine, and he takes every opportunity to remind his fellows that even the seemingly most trivial matters can hide the most profound truths. If that isn't funny, what is? -- Rob Lightner

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Press Reviews for Laughter
The Scotsman - "Laughter is no mere laughing matter, as Provine proves in a pioneering investigation into the hows and whys of what it means to chuckle. Prodding our funnybones through an enthusiastic dissection of experiments with apes, analyses of canned laughter on television comedy, potted histories of holy laughter, laughing gas and bizarre laughter epidemics, the American psychology professor offers not only an innovative understanding of how our fancies are tickled but why giving in to the giggles is good for our health."

Scientific American - "...Laughter: A Scientific Investigation builds on this work in that it assumes animal origins of laughter and follows van Hooff's distinction between the laugh and the smile...The fact that we can lose control over this expression, that it may become mirthless, tragic, eerie, sly or sardonic, shows how close comedy can get to tragedy. We like to see ourselves as fully rational beings, but much of this dissolves when someone yanks our laughing muscle. FRANS B. M. DE WAAL, author of Chimpanzee Politics and Good Natured.

Newsweek - "Scanning brains and eavesdropping on chimps, researchers are figuring out why we chuckle, guffaw and crack up."

Elle, USA - "Provine's appealingly unembarassed goofy curiosity...allows him to stage his own geekiness with gusto..."

Boston Herald - "Laughter isn't about jokes, it's about relationships. That's why it's no fun to laugh alone."

Evening Standard, London - "This crisply written, often hilarious book....might make you giggly for days."

The Arizona Republic - "It's fascinating-enjoy."

Dallas Morning News - "Some seriously funny research."

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Do men and women laugh at the same things? Is laughter contagious? Has anyone ever really died laughing? Is laughing good for your health? Drawing upon ten years of research into this most common-yet complex and often puzzling-human phenomenon, Dr. Robert Provine, the world s leading scientific expert on laughter, investigates such aspects of his subject as its evolution, its role in social relationships, its contagiousness, its neural mechanisms, and its health benefits. This is an erudite, wide-ranging, witty, and long-overdue exploration of a frequently surprising subject. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780141002255

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Book Description Penguin Books, 2001. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Do men and women laugh at the same things? Is laughter contagious? Has anyone ever really died laughing? Is laughing good for your health? Drawing upon ten years of research into this most common-yet complex and often puzzling-human phenomenon, Dr. Robert Provine, the world's leading scientific expert on laughter, investigates such aspects of his subject as its evolution, its role in social relationships, its contagiousness, its neural mechanisms, and its health benefits. This is an erudite, wide-ranging, witty, and long-overdue exploration of a frequently surprising subject. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0141002255

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Do men and women laugh at the same things? Is laughter contagious? Has anyone ever really died laughing? Is laughing good for your health? Drawing upon ten years of research into this most common-yet complex and often puzzling-human phenomenon, Dr. Robert Provine, the world s leading scientific expert on laughter, investigates such aspects of his subject as its evolution, its role in social relationships, its contagiousness, its neural mechanisms, and its health benefits. This is an erudite, wide-ranging, witty, and long-overdue exploration of a frequently surprising subject. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780141002255

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Book Description Penguin (Non-Classics). Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 272 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.4in. x 0.6in.Do men and women laugh at the same things Is laughter contagious Has anyone ever really died laughing Is laughing good for your health Drawing upon ten years of research into this most common-yet complex and often puzzling-human phenomenon, Dr. Robert Provine, the worlds leading scientific expert on laughter, investigates such aspects of his subject as its evolution, its role in social relationships, its contagiousness, its neural mechanisms, and its health benefits. This is an erudite, wide-ranging, witty, and long-overdue exploration of a frequently surprising subject. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780141002255

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