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Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives Paperback – Unabridged, 1 Jul 2009

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More About the Author

Richard Wiseman is Britain's only professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology and is the author of the bestselling Quirkology and 59 Seconds. He is the psychologist most frequently quoted by the British media.

Product Description


'Wiseman's easy-going divertissement recounts numerous curiosities
of modern psycology.' -- Guardian

'entertaining and energetic...packed with vignettes that are
perfect for dinner parties or pub conversations.' -- The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Ever wondered why bad musicians always win the Eurovision Song Contest, or how incompetent politicians get elected?

Professor Richard Wiseman uncovers the secret ingredients of charisma, explores how our personalities are shaped by when we are born and examines why people usually miss the obvious signs of their partner's infidelity. Using scientific methods to investigate offbeat topics, Quirkology brings a new understanding to the backwaters of the human mind and takes us to places where mainstream scientists fear to tread.

Findings include:

· The funniest joke in the world

· How your surname influences your life

· What the way you walk reveals about your personality

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

267 of 272 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Recently I read an article in a magazine which was about the art of making small talk at parties. One of the suggestions that it made was to take note of interesting facts or stories to bring up if the conversation stalls. The example given was a study in which men and women were asked which superpower they would like to possess. Top of the women's list was being invisible, while men were far more likely to want to be able to fly. Not only is this an interesting nugget of information, it also immediately stimulates discussion.

If you enjoy these kinds of conversations, you will love this book. (It even includes a list of the factoids most likely to prompt discussion). Psychologist Richard Wiseman has conducted a number of studies over the years looking into the ways that people behave and also reports on some other people's experiments. Some of the things that I learned while reading this book were:
- How asking people to trace the letter Q on their forehead is a good predictor of how good a liar they are.
- How our memories can be tricked into creating false memories and why this happens.
- How a waiter can dramatically increase his chances of getting a tip.
- Why you are more likely to be attracted to people when you're in a precarious situation that elevates your heart-rate (so maybe Hollywood storylines aren't so far-fetched after all)
- That words containing the "K" sound are especially likely to make people laugh, because of the way they contort the facial muscles.

The book is written in a lively and entertaining fashion and in parts is very amusing. While it's quite disjointed, it held my interest throughout. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest why people behave the way they do. Our behaviour is more predictable than we think.
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111 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Happy Reader on 12 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
Get this book if you want to see yourself and others in a completely new light! Quirkology is about weird, wonderful, and sometimes rather disturbing psychological experiments that reveal our true nature: what makes us help others (or, more often, help ourselves); why we are so poor at detecting when our partner cheats on us; what subtle factors influence our judgements - for instance about guilt and innocence, or about what leader to elect. There's not a shred of padding, and the reader is quickly hooked into wanting to know what happens next. It's not only fascinating, but fun to read: be prepared to be caught out when you least expect it by the author's sly sense of humour. The book also contains built-in experiments and demos so you can experience quirky psychology at first hand. Come on, get quirky: you'll love it!
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having followed Richard Wiseman's blog for a while now, I had high hopes for this book. However, while it was a reasonably interesting, pleasant read, I wasn't blown away by it either, as it seemed to suffer from some considerable flaws.

Firstly, despite promising us examples of all kinds of quirkiness from the world of psychology research, I just didn't find it all that quirky. I felt that some examples, such as the theory that the way to tell if a smile is genuine is to look at the eyes, would already be fairly well-known among the type of people who would be interested in this book.

While I appreciate that writing a book about psychological studies that interests the general public may be rather difficult, I also found the book to be incredibly superficial in its handling of its subject matter. Studies were explained very briefly in the most part, followed by sweeping statements about society based on those studies' findings. Usually only one or two studies were used to form these conclusions, which made me wonder whether Richard Wiseman was genuinely justified to do that or whether he was jumping to conclusions at times. There was hardly any critique or analysis of the studies mentioned; there were times when a study was explained in a reasonable-length summary along with its findings, and then followed by one sentence to tell the reader that "however, other researchers have not been able to replicate these findings". Surely it would have been relevant to give the reader some information about these subsequent studies and the reasons why the researchers weren't able to replicate the findings. I also wondered whether the studies quoted actually showed the things he claimed they did. For example, Prof.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jason N. Frowley on 26 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm a psychology lecturer myself, so it's not surprising that I already knew most of the material in Quirkology. But that's not why I give it such a poor star-rating. I'm even prepared to look the other way when Professor Wiseman tells me over and over again that events are "surreal" when they are in fact nothing more than odd, then gives his book a cringeworthy title that sounds like a rewrite of the phrase "I'm mad, me". The fact is, I wouldn't feel happy recommending this book to any non-psychologist. It irritated me constantly with its misinterpretion (or sometimes just dubious interpretation) of data. On the strength of the first hundred pages or so, I began to wonder whether Professor Wiseman knew the difference between correlation and causation. Well of course he does - he's a psychology professor after all - but the apparent conflation of the two is really going to confuse and misinform the naive reader. This kind of danger is ever-present when professionals try their hand at popular science: and there is more than enough misunderstanding out there as it is. Certainly there is some interesting material in this book, and in places it's handled well - but if you are new to this area please please read a statistics primer before you pick it up. Alternatively, get Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, or Dubner and Leavitt's Freakonomics, which cover much the same ground.
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