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ALARMS AND DIVERSIONS FOR THE THINKING PERSON

Forum File

Saturday, June 15, 2013 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“According to Gil Greengross and Geoffrey Miller of the University of New Mexico, humor 'may be one of the most important traits for humans seeking mates.' Since jokes and cartoons strike different degrees of mirth in different people, humor helps us identify others with dispositions and propensities similar to our own. (On occasion, of course, we encounter people who find nothing funny, but who wants to spend a life with them?) Humor appreciation, however, differs between the sexes, according to psychologist Eric R. Bressler, who notes that, in general, women tend to favor men who make them laugh, while men favor women who laugh at their jokes. Indeed, the amount of female laughter at a man's jokes can accurately predict the level of attraction experienced by both partners. Presumably the interest expressed when a woman laughs at a man's jokes spurs the man to additional interest. Bressler found that men's laughter, in contrast, did not predict interest in future interaction on the part of either the woman or the man. Nor are the expressions of humor the same. Men, in general, favor slapstick humor and hostile jokes, while women – again, generally speaking – prefer self-deprecating humor and funny stories.

“These gender differences have practical implications for long-term relationships. Psychologists Catherine Cohan and Thomas Bradbury analyzed the marriages of 60 couples over an 18-month period and found that when men used humor to cope with stressful events, such as job loss or death, it led to a greater incidence of divorce and separation than when women used humor in those same stressful situations. Cohan and Bradbury speculate that the more aggressive humor of men in times of turmoil adversely affects bonding between partners, compared with the more soothing humor favored by women. Though male humor may play a role in establishing romantic relationships, it would seem that female humor is more effective in maintaining them.”

— From “Laughter and the brain” at theamericanscholar .com

A quiz

Who was the only president with four names?

Wisdom of the ages

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” – Mark Twain

Current wisdom

“There's very little trust in the government, and that's for good reason. We're our own worst enemy.” – Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., as some lawmakers say they will take a new look at ways to keep the U.S. safe from terror attacks without giving up privacy protections.

Quiz answer

George Herbert Walker Bush

Snob words

abdicate (AB-duh-keyt), v. – to give up for renounce, especially in a voluntary, public or formal manner, as in: “The politician decided to abdicate his office before the voters could kick him out.”

Today in history

On this date in 1775, George Washington was appointed commander in chief of the American Army; good move.

Now you know

Married elderly people, says RandomHistory.com, are most likely to maintain daily health-promoting habits.