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At least they did it in the name of Science. Most of us who sit through a succession of unfunny jokes have to endure the added humiliation of knowing that we have paid for the privilege, or at the very least of knowing that we have, yet again, selected the wrong channel for our evening's viewing.

At least they did it in the name of Science. Most of us who sit through a succession of unfunny jokes have to endure the added humiliation of knowing that we have paid for the privilege, or at the very least of knowing that we have, yet again, selected the wrong channel for our evening's viewing.

The 14 volunteers who took part in an experiment to locate the "humour zone" in the brain had the comfort of knowing that, if they did not get the joke, they were advancing the frontiers of human knowledge. If, while they were in the brain scanner, they failed to giggle at such gems as, "Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants? Because it was a very cold day", they could reassure themselves that they were in the control group, who were being told deliberately unfunny jokes to confirm that the "funny spot" in their grey matter remained resolutely untickled.

What the deliberately unfunny journal Nature Neuroscience fails to record, however, is what happened to any of the 14 who found this version of the joke much funnier than the original, some lame pun about a hole in one.

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