My old man used to always comment to me that “sarcasm was the lowest form of wit”. Actually it turns out that being able to recognise sarcasm is:
…an essential skill if one is going to function in a modern society dripping with irony. â€śOur culture in particular is permeated with sarcasm,â€ť says Katherine Rankin, a neuropsychologist at the University of California at San Francisco. â€śPeople who donâ€™t understand sarcasm are immediately noticed. Theyâ€™re not getting it. Theyâ€™re not socially adept.â€ť
Sarcasm recognition in politics is especially necessary. Tui Brewaries will be pleased with the research too:
Sarcasm so saturates 21st-century America that according to one study of a database of telephone conversations, 23 percent of the time that the phrase â€śyeah, rightâ€ť was used, it was uttered sarcastically. Entire phrases have almost lost their literal meanings because they are so frequently said with a sneer. â€śBig deal,â€ť for example. Whenâ€™s the last time someone said that to you and meant it sincerely? â€śMy heart bleeds for youâ€ť almost always equals â€śTell it to someone who cares,â€ť and â€śArenâ€™t you specialâ€ť means you arenâ€™t.
Where Dad used to say “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit: it seems he was wrong on that too:
Sarcasm seems to exercise the brain more than sincere statements do. Scientists who have monitored the electrical activity of the brains of test subjects exposed to sarcastic statements have found that brains have to work harder to understand sarcasm.
That extra work may make our brains sharper, according to another study. College students in Israel listened to complaints to a cellphone companyâ€™s customer service line. The students were better able to solve problems creatively when the complaints were sarcastic as opposed to just plain angry. Sarcasm â€śappears to stimulate complex thinking and to attenuate the otherwise negative effects of anger,â€ť according to the study authors.
The mental gymnastics needed to perceive sarcasm includes developing a â€śtheory of mindâ€ť to see beyond the literal meaning of the words and understand that the speaker may be thinking of something entirely different. A theory of mind allows you to realize that when your brother says â€śnice jobâ€ť when you spill the milk, he means just the opposite, the jerk.
Yep, must use the sarcasm filter more often.