Robert Provine, Psychology, on

Hans-Rudolf Merz, Swiss finance minister, recently gave a speech to parliament about the importation of spiced meat, during which he found himself giggling uncontrollably about the “Bündnerfleisch.” The video went viral online, and Merz became an Internet sensation.

“Laughter is not under much conscience control,” said Robert Provine, professor of psychology. “We don’t decide to laugh, it just happens. It’s like crying in that respect. Most laughter is for no reason; it’s not a response to a joke. It’s a response to other people.”

The article, “When the Giggle Bug Bites, Even Cured Meat is Hilarious,” appeared September 28 on


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