Tag: humour

  • Long Reads and the Stockholm Syndrome

    Since reading one of the¬†longest novels¬†I have shied away from other lengthy tomes despite thoroughly enjoying my 1000-page adventure. When considering this choice, I frame my decision as defending against a type of literary¬†post-purchase rationalisation: after investing such an enormous amount of time in reading a book, will I be able to objectively consider both…

  • Betteridge’s Law, or: Are Questions in Headlines a Good Idea?

    Pick up any tabloid newspaper today and take note of how many article headlines are phrased as a question. I understand that these headlines are an attempt to pique our interest (or the result of lazy copy editors/writers), but are they a good idea? What is the end result of using a question as a…

  • The Wadsworth Constant: Ignore 30% of Everything

    I’ll start with a story. Last year my girlfriend and I watched the pilot episode of a new TV show and were immediately hooked. The pilot episode was refreshingly complex and forced us to guess missing plot details continuously: it’s adventurous to make your audience work so hard during a pilot, we surmised. We later…

  • The ‘Bad Version’ and How to Tax the Rich

    A ‘bad version’ is a technique used by television writers to inspire creativity when experiencing a creative block. The technique involves writing a purposefully awful section of plot as a way of helping the writer find creativity and, eventually, the ideal solution: it’s a way of “nudging your imagination to someplace better”. In The Wall…

  • On Titles, or: Titles: Is There an Optimal Solution?

    As a co-editor of the open-access journal Theoretical Economics, Jeff Ely has seen his fair share of academic papers and their associated titles. Inevitably Ely has constructed a theory on how to title a paper (or anything else, for that matter) for maximum exposure, impact and intrigue. In his hilarious tongue-in-cheek article detailing this theory,…

  • Ebert’s Glossary of Movie Terms

    If there’s one person I can think of who is qualified to produce a movie glossary, it has to be Roger Ebert. And you know what? He did, it was published, and I had no idea until just now. Inspiring frequent light giggles and the occasional guffaw, Ebert’s glossary appears to have originated as an…

  • Labelling Homeopathic Products

    Earlier this year the UK’s MHRA opened a consultation to help them decide how homeopathic products should be labelled when sold to the public. As expected, Ben Goldacre ‚ÄĒ devoted critic of homeopathy, pseudoscience and general quackery ‚ÄĒ suggested a label of his own and asked his readers for further suggestions. Some of the suggestions…

  • Congruent Conflations in a Thumbnail

    I’ve been going ape-wild for congruent conflations lately and for good reason: they’re the most fun I’ve had with wordplay for a long time and I find they ring off the tongue nicely. Hopefully you’ll cut me a bone if I indulge a little more, as with¬†just a couple more examples you will¬†no-doubt¬†be able to…

  • Comedic Writing Tips‚Ķ Again

    The use of inherently funny topics and words, at least one person, a little exaggeration and a touch of curiosity and danger: these are just some of the essential ingredients¬†for successful humourous writing, says¬†Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. In an essay very similar to a post¬†he wrote almost¬†four years ago (previously), Adams tells us an…

  • Random Promotions Beat the Peter Principle

    The¬†Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence” (discussed previously). This principle is typically observed when promotions are rewarded based on an employee’s ability in their current position and provided there is sufficient difference between the two positions. In such circumstances, is there a simple way…