Friday, 2 December 2011

I think there should be something in science called the “reindeer effect.”

"I don’t know what it would be, but I think it’d be good to hear someone say, “Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect."

Day 2 Advent Calendar image - a cute reindeer - hence the quotation, which makes me smile BUT...

I have to find out two things here: 

1. Who is Jack Handey?
2. What on earth was he talking about?

Number 1 - easy - "Jack Handey (born 25 February 1949) is an American humorist" (and another person I haven't heard of...until now)

Number 2? Hmmmm - APPARENTLY 'the reindeer effect' refers to something that cannot properly be explained. Now, that is clever! I'm sure there must be a term for...errrm, terms like that. Something akin to a truism, something akin to tautology? Oh, I give up.

The reindeer effect, which cannot itself properly be explained, refers to something that cannot properly be explained...

It was used in an American study about political leanings correlating to one's sense of humour. (HUMOUR, right? As opposed to humor.)

The hypothesis was that this sort of nonsense humour (along with “Far Side” cartoons and Monty Python sketches) should appeal more to liberals because of their “openness to ideas” and their tendency to “seek new experiences.” Liberals, it was proposed, should  be able to enjoy the ambiguity and absurdity of the reindeer effect, even though the punch line’s incongruity isn’t neatly resolved. Whereas conservatives...

Conservatives, the study concluded, enjoyed the reindeer effect joke more than liberals. (Interestingly, most social scientists - the people who put together this study - are liberals)

That's that theory out of the window then. Their justification, conclusion, call it what you will:

“Conservatives tend to be happier than liberals in general,” said Dr. Martin, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario. “A conservative outlook rationalizes social inequality, accepting the world as it is, and making it less of a threat to one’s well-being, whereas a liberal outlook leads to dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and a sense that things need to change before one can be really happy.”


"Maybe the stereotype of the dour, rigid conservative has more to do with social scientists’ groupthink and wariness of outsiders..."

Well, I think that what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.