Saturday, October 4, 2014

Quirkology by Richard Wiseman

Quirkology will get you thinking about the little things that have psychological impact
I enjoy watching those brain shows that have popped up on TV lately. Brain Games has had multiple seasons, but I also watched Your Bleeped Up Brain. The shows talk about how the brain works, and how it tries to make sense of things. When we think that the brain is trying to fool us, it's basically trying to make sense of the information it is getting. Richard Wiseman, with a PhD in Psychology, was one of the guest scientists on Your Bleeped Up Brain, and he has also written a few books. I finally managed to locate one in my local library. Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things. In the book, Wiseman investigates and explains such things as:
  • if being born on a certain date has any affect on your life (which it might with seasonal effects)
  • if your name can say something about the person you will become
  • if you can tell if someone if lying by looking at them (no, but talking to them might expose a lie)
  • if ghosts exist (nope, but there might be other things that cause the eerie feelings)
  • if you pick your president or decide guilt based on looks (and it seems that we do)
  • what we find funny and why we find it funny
  • how honesty are we
Of course, this list just breaks the surface of the information in the book. Wiseman talks about his own research and the research of others in the field.

I really enjoyed reading the book. As I was reading, I found myself stopping to re-read sections to my husband. I thought that he would find the section on beards interesting since he has one. It seems that in a study Wiseman did, people thought men without hair on their faces were more honest. Face hair might mean maturity, but it also meant that others might think the man with the beard was sinister. As Wiseman noted, there has not been a US president with face hair since 1910.

If you are interested in the why people do the things they do, and what it means when they do them, Quirkology is for you.

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