What do you get when you combine doctor jokes, Facebook, and science? A hilarious research article!


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Paying attention to the kinds of jokes people tell can give us valuable insight into their views of social issues; however, we're pretty sure that the real reason these researchers conducted this study was to find the best doctor jokes, which they proudly recite in Table 1 (below). To find Facebook posts with doctor jokes, two coders read through over 30,000 Facebook posts containing the word "Doctor", of which only 442 contained doctor jokes. (We assume these coders will never enjoy Facebook again.) They then calculated the popularity of the doctor jokes: "The median number of Facebook likes for doctor jokes was 2 (IQR 0-19). Ironically, the joke with the greatest number of Facebook likes (49 total likes from a network of 253 friends) was a “doctor, priest, lawyer” joke in which lawyers were the butt of the joke."

Figure 1. Fictional example of conversation thread on a Facebook wall. Did you hear the one about the doctor? An examination of doctor jokes posted on facebook. "BACKGROUND: Social networking sites such as Facebook have become immensely popular in recent years and present a unique opportunity for researchers to eavesdrop on the collective conversation of current societal issues. OBJECTIVE: We sought to explore doctor-related humor by examining doctor jokes posted on Facebook. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional study of 33,326 monitored Facebook users, 263 (0.79%) of whom posted a joke that referenced doctors on their Facebook wall during a 6-month observation period (December 15, 2010 to June 16, 2011). We compared characteristics of so-called jokers to nonjokers and identified the characteristics of jokes that predicted joke success measured by having elicited at least one electronic laugh (eg, an LOL or "laughing out loud") as well as the total number of Facebook "likes" the joke received. RESULTS: Jokers told 156 unique doctor jokes and were the same age as nonjokers but had larger social networks (median Facebook friends 227 vs 132, P<.001) and were more likely to be divorced, separated, or widowed (P<.01). In 39.7% (62/156) of unique jokes, the joke was at the expense of doctors. Jokes at the expense of doctors compared to jokes not at the expense of doctors tended to be more successful in eliciting an electronic laugh (46.5% vs 37.3%), although the association was statistically insignificant. In our adjusted models, jokes that were based on current events received considerably more Facebook likes (rate ratio [RR] 2.36, 95% CI 0.97-5.74). CONCLUSIONS: This study provides insight into the use of social networking sites for research pertaining to health and medicine, including the world of doctor-related humor."

Click to see full Table Related content: NCBI ROFL: Aggression-inhibiting influence of sexual humor. NCBI ROFL: Worst practical joke ever. NCBI ROFL: [Insert sexist joke here]. NCBI ROFL: Dying with laughter…literally.

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