Friday, 12 December 2008


We have had a few nasty emails about our lack of respect for our elders after our last post suggested that senior citizens should get permission from their kids before they vote or invest money.
Now some of the emails were a wee bit virtriolic - and their writers apparently missed what we thought was a big dollup of humour.

However, we still wonder how many of the Hanover Finance pensioner investors voted NZ First compared to the pensioners who weren't investors. That would be a good test of senility.
And our humour is really born out of a genuine concern for hard working people who have been hoodwinked by the last of the cowboy industries. Anyway just when we thought maybe we had been a little harsh on the fossils we find this in the Australian.

It appears you can work out if someone suffers from dementia by testing to see if they recognise sarcasm. Now we are really worried for the sanity of the grumpy curmudgeons who were not happy with our insinuations about their lack of abilty to make sane financial and voting decisions once they got to 65.

Here is the important bit
John Hodges, the senior author of the paper published in Brain says:

''(Frontal Temporal Dementia ) patients present changes in personality and behaviour. They find it difficult to interact with people, they don't pick up on social cues, they lack empathy, they make bad judgements,'' he said.

"People with FTD become very gullible and they often part with large amounts of money," he said, adding that one in 4000 people around the world are afflicted with the condition.

Researchers began studying the role of sarcasm in detecting FTD because it requires a patient to spot discrepancies between a person's words and the tone of their voice, Mr Hodges said.

"One of the things about FTD patients is that they don't detect humour - they are very bad at double meaning and a lot of humour (other than sarcasm) is based on double meaning," he said.

The research, conducted in 2006-07, put 26 sufferers of FTD and 19 Alzheimer's patients through a test in which actors acted out different scenarios using exactly the same words.

While in one scenario, the actors would deliver the lines sincerely, in others they would introduce a thick layer of sarcasm. Patients were then asked if they got the joke, Hodges said.

For example, if a couple were discussing a weekend away and the wife suggested bringing her mother, the husband might say: "Well, that's great, you know how much I like your mother, that will really make it a great weekend."

When the same words were delivered sarcastically and then in a neutral tone, the joke was lost on FTD patients, while the Alzheimer's patients got it

"The patients with FTD are very literal and they take what is being said as genuine and sincere," Mr Hodges said.

So we are now really happy - ma and pa both get sarcasm and are pretty good at dispensing it. They love humour and laugh a hell of a lot, in fact the more ribald and un PC the yarn - the better. And now when we see them at Xmas and they start laughing at our bad jokes we might just shed a wee tear.


Cactus Kate said...

No, I meant it.

Perhaps we could adjust my proposal slightly so at 60 they could apply to the Court but the burden of proof would have to be on the aged to prove fiscal and electoral sanity.

Anonymous said...

Surely the real question is whether dementia patients flock to Winston and Helen.. or whether these two, like Typhoid Mary, they cause it?

The distinction is important; if your Ancient One is a normal boozer, smoker and world traveler prior to exposure to the Toxic Two.. and becomes a letter writer under "Concerned citizen of Tauranga" afterwards, then you have your answer.

Clearly it would be better to do a frontal lobotomy of the TT and close down the source, and then get your aged one back on the sauce so we can all get some sleep.


Concerned of Rotorua.

Anonymous said...


In the last year the aged parent has completely lost her appreciation of sarcasm...

Mind you when I said I was voting for Winston (in a sarcastic tone of voice) she did lay into me about that not being acceptable - so maybe she is okay.