Quirkology by Richard Wiseman
Published in 2007
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How I got this book:
Swapped at a book exchange
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I picked up a copy of Quirkology on a French campsite book exchange having previously enjoyed reading Richard Wiseman's self-help book 59 Seconds. Quirkology is a much thicker tome(!) which sets out to explore the findings of many different and unusual psychology studies undertaken over the past century or so and explain their results in layman's terms. I was disappointed by quite how low the bar is set, having hoped for a deeper view of the work with more science and less joky padding, but there are lots of nuggets of interesting information dotted throughout the book. Eccentric Victorian scientist Francis Galton gets several mentions which reminded me of the interesting biography of him I read a couple of years ago (Extreme Measures by Martin Brookes) and, in a small world moment, recently read science author Simon Singh crops up too having been involved with making a Tomorrow's World feature where the great British public were asked to determine whether Sir Robin Day was lying. Sir Robin? Surely not!
Although some huge studies are described, I was surprised several times by apparently significant findings being decided from very small samples and I didn't agree with all the results either. Apparently women find jokes funnier than men do because in social situations we laugh at over 70% of jokes told by men, whereas men laugh at less than 40% of jokes told by women. Hmmm. Nothing to do with women traditionally being 'trained' to bolster male egos then? Perhaps the fake smile identification study should have been carried out in tandem? Overall Quirkology kept my attention for a few hours and it is a humorous, light read, but not really sciencey enough for my tastes.
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