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If You Laugh At This Joke, Then You're A Conformist

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We all know that conformity is one of the great weaknesses of humans, who will do almost anything to "fit in." But this isn't exactly news — researchers proved it 70 years ago. They came up with the world's least funny joke, and then tested to see if they could use peer pressure to make people laugh at it.

Here's how it goes:

A white horse walks into a bar.

The bartender turns to the horse and says, "We have a drink named after you."

The horse says, "No soap, radio!"

If you think that that joke made no sense, and didn't laugh, you probably were helped along by the fact that you're alone, reading it on a screen, rather than in a group of people, at least some of whom are going to laugh hysterically. The punchline, "No soap radio," is meant to have the rhythm the punchline to a joke, but not to have any meaning. It's just a bluff, rather than a proper punchline.


The "No soap radio," "joke" experiment usually involves at least two conspirators. One conspirator tells the joke to a third person, and the two conspirators laugh wildly. Either the third person laughs along — at which point they are mocked by the two for laughing at a fake joke — or the third person admits they don't get it, at which point they are mocked by the conspirators for not getting it. In the second case, the mockery is meant to get them to reluctantly laugh, and pretend to "get" a fake joke. Then they will be mocked some more for pretending to get it.

It's not surprising that this was popular in elementary schools in the 1960s, but it's been around, making people feel self-conscious and miserable, since the 1940s. I didn't hear of it when I was in elementary school. Maybe it died out. Were you subjected to this little joke?


Image: Emanuele Spies

[Via No Soap Radio.]