Can Humor Make Us Better Thinkers?



This picture (cropped from here) doesn’t prove anything, but it exemplifies a thesis I’ve had rattling around in my skull for a while.   There are certain ideas out there, such as, “There is this thing called systematic racism exists and if you don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis, that’s a privilege you have no real right to brag about.”  Now, a lot of people can be really obtuse about these this kind of idea if it’s presented as an argument.  However, I’ve seen a bunch of situations where someone comes up with the right joke and suddenly a switch flips–people get it.  (i.e. They understand what you’re trying to say…and they seem to agree with most of your premises.)

tl;dr When I look at the kind of humor people are able to pick up on, I suspect that more people understand basic issues of kyriarchy than I realize.


(Go here if you want to browse more of these jokes on twitter.)


More rambling after the jump.

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A change in policy

Our “be nice” rule is being expanded in order to support more effectively our goal of promoting discussion of feminist issues in a productive manner. The topics we discuss in feminist philosophy are ones that are not just theoretical. We’re discussing things that matter to people’s lives, and we need to bear in mind that reading these discussions can affect people’s lives. While very few readers of philosophical blogs will have been tied to the trolley tracks, quite a lot of them will have been on the receiving end of the various forms of oppression that are frequent topics here. It is a vital goal of ours to create a safe and supportive environment for discussion of these issues and experiences. One way that an unwelcome atmosphere can be created is by repeated expression of views which, intentionally or otherwise, lend support to (for example) racist or sexist positions. In the past we have allowed this if the individual comments do not fall afoul of our “be nice” rule. But our readership has made it clear to us that this is insufficient, and that as a result we have allowed our blog to become at times an unwelcoming environment for those who are on the receiving end of various sorts of oppression. If your comments are of this sort, you will be politely asked to back off a bit. If that doesn’t work, you may be placed in moderation or blocked.

Commenters who fall foul of this new rule may well be entirely unaware of the way in which their comments can serve to create a problematic environment. That is, after all, the way that privilege often works. We hope, then, that the occasional “back off a bit please”, or “please don’t go down this road”, linked to this post, will be received as a helpful intervention. Our assumption has been, and continues to be, that we all want to conduct an open and full discussion in a manner that facilitates, rather than hinders, the participation of those who are victims of oppression. This is, however, a tricky matter. We hope that you’ll bear with us as we work our way toward improving the blog’s atmosphere.