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Quirkology: The Curious Science Of Everyday Lives [Unabridged] [Hardcover]

Prof. Richard Wiseman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 May 2007
From the bestselling author of 59 Seconds

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1 edition (4 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330448129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330448123
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 28 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 514,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Book Description

Ever wondered why bad musicians always win the Eurovision Song Contest, or how incompetent politicians get elected? You need some Quirkology in your life. While other scientists beaver away on obvious problems, Richard Wiseman has been busy uncovering the secret ingredients of charisma, exploring how our personalities are shaped by when we are born and examining why people usually miss the obvious signs of their partner’s infidelity. Using scientific methods to investigate offbeat topics that interest the general public as well as the scientific community, Quirkology brings a new understanding to the backwaters of the human mind and takes us to places where mainstream scientists fear to tread. Comparable to Freakonomics, but British, far more populist, and a lot funnier. Findings include: How does your surname influence your life? What does the way you walk reveal about your personality? Why should women have men write their personal ads? What is the funniest joke in the world?

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
264 of 269 people found the following review helpful
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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110 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Fun 12 May 2007
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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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
Usually we associate scientists with people working in a lab trying to find a cure for cancer, HIV, hair baldness or any other of a number of ills. Or else they are dabbling in high-tech equipment trying to explore the ultimate questions like the shape of the universe, time-travel and the unifying field theory - things way beyond a normal person's ken.

In contrast, this book is fresh, understandable and exciting. Full to the brim with psychological studies that are anything from interesting to amusing, this book delves not only into the quirkier aspects of human behaviour, but also into some of the quirkier studies that scientists get up to (when no one is looking).

A few examples to illustrate my point:

Quack (as opposed to Moo, Grrr or Woof) is perceived to be the most funny animal sound. Apparently, it's because a `k' sound makes you smile and therefore others with you. A good one to remember for job interviews...

By monitoring behaviour at checkout queues, where you are only allowed to have 10 items (and most people, invariably have 12 or 15), scientists discovered that the people most likely to break minor rules of conduct (which includes speed limits) are female van drivers. Now you know what to beware of when driving!

The book is packed with many more such examples, all with comments on how the findings could be explained.

Ultimately the book is much more than just a series of weird facts and fantastical experiments. As with all good science (and this belongs to the best), it tells us something very relevant about us - our hopes, fears and those mannerisms we just don't seem to be able to shake. Thus, it opens up a whole new way of looking at others - and yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars mildly interesting but not 'sciencey' 8 Jan 2011
I've read a few popular psychology books and am very interested in the subject. If, like me, you like to read about science then I suggest this book might irritate you. I repeatedly found that Wiseman jumped to conclusions from his data without considering other obvious possibilities. Now it may be that he did do all this but didn't bother including it in the book, but for me that is annoying. If you just want to read about interesting things then it's not terrible, although frankly I would say there are other much more interesting (and convincing) books out there on similar topics.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read 12 Jun 2007
Bought this on an off chance as the content seemed interesting on first glance. Turned out to be an absolute gem. The book is fascinating and really well written. Very easily read by anyone, whether you have a background in science or not, you cannot help but be captivated, interested and entertained by this. Great to see good old curiosity at work.
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