Ask McFartnuggets: “Why Do People Do a Fist Pump When They’re Excited?”

Dear McFartnuggets: 
Whenever you see a person who succeeds like a sports star sinking a game winning shot or Tiger Woods getting the golf ball in the hole they always do a fist pump. What the heck is that? I don’t even know how to describe what it is. It’s like they’re jerking off an invisible ghost or something. Is that why people do that? Are there ghosts and it’s good luck to jerk them off after you score in sports? Or do they jerk the ghost off just in a celebratory fashion? I know when sports teams win championships they shake up champagne bottles and pop the top off and spray it all over everyone like it’s victory jizz. Is that related in any way? -- Cam from Tacoma, Washington

Dear Cam:
No, they’re not jacking off ghosts. It’s hard to explain why someone would do a fist pump when they score in sports or in life. What I would guess is that when people feel a great exhilaration or elation dealing with physical achievements like in sports or some other intense activity it activates a part of the subconscious unevolved brain and so the urge to strike something takes hold. Thousands of years ago, people would only feel the type of exhilaration of winning a sports game when they hunted an animal and maybe they were bashing its skull in with a club or a rock. Now even though we’re in this world where that action is relatively rare, the urge to hit something when we’re happy is still there. When you see someone do a fist pump, it varies depending on the person, but it’s usually a simulated striking gesture. To most people, hitting things is a form of cathartic behavior and so when the ecstasy of succeeding overcomes someone they release that energy in the form of a fist pump.

How tall are these ghosts?

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