Anthropology Articles

Research Happens: “Post Secret” As An Archive Of Our Id

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Since I wrote this post, Frank Warren has had to withdraw the Post Secret app because people just couldn’t play nicely. 

When Frank Warren launched the Post Secret blog in 2004, it was a lark. “A creative prank,” he calls it. He gave out 3,000 postcards to strangers around Washington D.C., and asked each person to write a secret on it and mail it to him. And they did. And people still do.

To date, Warren has received more than half a million secrets. Enough to fill four bestselling books (and then some). Once a week, he posts a carefully curated selection on the blog. Sunday Secrets is a highlight of my week.

Some of the cards are scrawled, many are works of art. The  secrets are sad, funny, shocking, about love and sex, loneliness and anger, moral slips and personal habits.

  •  I’m afraid I’ll never find love because not even my own mother loved me enough to keep me
  •  I just want to tell someone how angry I am
  • i secretly hate my friends, its hard having friends 1/2 your size
  •  Sometimes I wish my gorgeous autistic daughter was ugly. Too many pervs out there.
  •  The cleaner stole my sex book but I’m too embarrassed to ask for it back
  •  “im fine” – “im tired” – “im alright” are just excuses. …. and I’m not ok. Help me

Why Women Aren’t Funny

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a great story about celebrities trying to win the New Yorker magazine’s cartoon-caption contest.

And the operative word is “trying.”

Zach Galifianakis got so frustrated, he finally gave up. Roger Ebert tried 107 times. Maureen Dowd wrote at least one caption I think was funnier than the winning caption. Remember that as you read the rest of this post.

I entered the contest once and never again. The more I tried, the less likely I was to come up with not just a funny caption, but anything at all. My mind would go blank.

According to University of New Mexico anthropologist Gil Greengross, that means I’m not a funny person.

Greengross and psychologist Geoffrey Miller conducted research designed to explore humor ability as it relates to mating success, and they used the cartoon-caption contest as a way to judge participants’ humor ability.


 

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