Recent commentary has suggested that the extent to which anomaly theories have become ingrained in the minds of academics and popular commentators alike has led to certain common assumptions and misconceptions about Clarke's pattern recognition theory of humour.
"There are two major misconceptions that have arisen," says Clarke. "First there is the assumption that this theory suggests that the deviation from a pattern is rewarded in humour; second there is the idea that the eight patterns identified correspond to categories of jokes or types of comedy in some way, as if there were eight types of humour. Both are entirely untrue.
"In all circumstances," states Clarke, "it is the recognition of simple repetition that is being rewarded in humour, not any form of anomaly, aberration or deviation. It is the recognition of this repetition in increasingly difficult or unlikely circumstances, despite any altered context or associated problems of perception, which is valuable to the individual.
"This is a major departure from prior theories and turns the whole received wisdom about both the mechanism and function of humour on its head. When we talk of pattern recognition, this does not include the recognition of deviation from a pattern, which is not a cognitive process rewarded by the faculty of humour. While this may seem counter-intuitive it is fundamental to an understanding of humour that such aberrations and deviations are discounted from the range of humorous causality."
The apparent simplicity of the theory and the information-processing system it suggests has also fooled many into believing Clarke's analysis has grouped different stimuli into certain categories of humour. "The eight patterns don't correspond to eight types of humour," clarifies the author. "Rather, they are cognitive processes by which the brain identifies and analyses information unconsciously. Since this necessarily involves perceptual subjectivity, the
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