Clarke’s pattern recognition theory of humour is included in the Encyclopedia of
Humor Studies (Sage 2014) edited by Salvatore Attardo. Authored by Clarke, the entry
presents the basic tenets of pattern recognition theory and how it contrasts to his
information normalization theory.
Alastair talks to the editor about his views on rationalism, education and evolution.
An Introduction To Information Normalization Theory
Clarke examines the ideas behind his next book on humour.
With the human race constituting the most learning and the most deceiving of species,
a faculty that encouraged a tendency to seek out potential flaws in information would
carry significant survival advantages for its host, normalizing potential misdirection
and protecting the brain from being fooled into misfiling properties, entities or
models of behaviour.
Where Pattern Recognition Theory put the case for humour being rooted in creativity
and adaptability, it is this contrary stance that Information Normalization Theory
adopts. Compensating for the risk associated with misleading stimuli such as deception,
error and confusion, which could hinder the individual’s chances of survival, the
activity of humour as a faculty is described by the universal equation h = m x s,
from which the intensity of the response can be predicted.
What exactly is rationalism, and why does a concept that founds itself on reason
and evidence seem so difficult to nail down? In this new article Alastair considers
his own definition of the term and examines where it might be found, as well as where
it might not. Its opposite, irrationalism, is formidable in its virulence, penetrating
even the ablest minds in one way or another. Yet the author claims the adoption of
rationalism as the dominant global philosophy is vital if civilization is to progress
from its current state.