Chuckles Bites the Dust, a Lesson for our Time

Despite admonishing the entire WJM newsroom that it was no laughing matter, Mary really couldn't help herself when Chuckles bit the dust. His life really was all about laughter - whether he was announcing election results in grease paint or when suggesting "a little seltzer down your pants" to everyone. OK, that was a little odd. But everyone loved him. And by insisting to Lou, Murray and Ted that a crushing death under an elephant wasn't just a little amusing, Mary was bound to regret it later at the funeral for her dear departed friend. After all, the recognition that his life and death was completely at odds with what she wanted to feel inside would sink in sooner or later.

Particularly since she knew that he harbored a secret.

Off the set, working under two pseudonyms known only to Mary, Chuckles had labored tirelessly on groundbreaking, not-ready-for-rhyme-time work in embodied cognition. "We know more than we can tell," he would say. Right down to the soles of his oversized shoes, Chuckles had a real feel for embodiment. Sadly, data backing up that intuition was lost during the Ford administration. But this month, work that bears what some believe to be a resemblance to that groundbreaking research has come to light. The IdeaFestival awaits confirmation from Ms. Moore on the true identies of the people below.

Jesse Prinz, Scientific American:

The most exciting aspect of this work is that Huang and Galinksy find that mind–body dissonance has a positive payoff, even though it can feel unpleasant.  There are conditions under which is it good for us, not just polite, to express emotions that differ from how we are feeling.  For example, William James said that putting on a happy face helped him cope with debilitating depression.  Perhaps expression therapy can join pharmacology in the battle against the blues.  We can also increase empathy for others by mimicking their expressions, even when we don’t share their feelings.

Now Huang and Galinsky have discovered a new benefit to adopting expressions that don’t originate from within. Doing so leads us to think more flexibly: our categories become more inclusive. This may help with creative problem-solving, as well as social conflicts. For example, prejudice often derives from the use of stereotypes, but mind–body dissonance leads people to kick away the crutch of stereotypes and think expansively. Can an African American be president? Can an Islamic State be a democracy? Can a stranger be the object of compassion? When we experienced mind–body dissonance, the foreclosed begins to look feasible. Inner conflict shakes us from cognitive complacency and makes us receptive to new possibilities.

Flexible thought - broader categories - inclusion - laughing at the absurdity of it all - Chuckles lives in our hearts. A little dissonance does a body good, his work Huang and Galinsky's work, a lesson for our time.

Wayne