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Surprising Science

Our Strongest Weapon Against Terrorism Is Laughter

The ability to laugh during dark times gives us strength, community, and hope.


When tragedy strikes, we often look to comedians for perspective and, maybe, some relief. When ISIS attacked Paris on Friday, the world responded with grief, anger, shock, and solidarity with the French people. Still, our outrage wants an outlet. Holding in this confusion is uncomfortable. We know laughter relieves tension, that the best jokes work when tension is built and released. It’s ironic that the humor with the most power is the kind that arises from tragedy.



‘Bad’ Words Sound So Good

On Last Week Tonight John Oliver took advantage of his premium-cable status by saying, unfiltered, everything we were all thinking.

In a profanity-peppered take down, Oliver offered these words: “If you’re in a war of culture and lifestyle with France, good f*cking luck! Because go ahead, bring your bankrupt ideology; they’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons, Marcel Proust, and the f*cking croque-en-bouche.” It was funny; it was angry; it was true; and we all collectively sighed in relief. We are not laughing about the tragedy; we are laughing about the absurdity of our world. Because we need to. We have to.

Oliver treated ISIS with the ridicule they deserved. It’s a sharp rhetorical weapon that minimizes an enemy:


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