If you’re sarcastic, you’re probably smarter than most according to science


The Smithsonian Magazine wrote a great article about it back in 2011, actually.

In this study, scientists found that the sort of wordplay involved in sarcasm is not only a sign of intelligence (saying one thing and meaning another), but a means to practice at becoming more intelligent. Identifying sarcasm requires some pretty serious mental gymnastics that the average mind just isn’t prepared to handle.

Sarcasm detection is an essential skill if one is going to function in a modern society dripping with irony. “Our culture in particular is permeated with sarcasm,” says Katherine Rankin, a neuropsychologist at the University of California at San Francisco. “People who don’t understand sarcasm are immediately noticed. They’re not getting it. They’re not socially adept.”

Sarcasm is, essentially, a way of thinking about and verbalizing things which possess more than a simple literal meaning. For one who can understand sarcasm, it’s a puzzle-solving game: What is actually meant by the words, given the tone of voice and facial expression as well?

As we continue the practice of being sarcastic, or mental muscles bulk up. In the same way as physical exercise contributes to a greater ability to perform a task (running more makes you a better runner), exercising your sarcasm on a regular basis expands your brain’s circuitry, making for even more possibilities in your thinking.

Understanding sarcasm requires a two-part process:

Not only understanding the scenario that’s playing out in front of you, but also the aspects of it that might be missing. It’s in the play off of these missing parts that our brain makes more powerful connections.

“Sarcasm is practically the primary language” in modern society, says John Haiman, a linguist at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the author of Talk is Cheap: Sarcasm, Alienation and the Evolution of Language.

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