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Quirkology [Kindle Edition]

Richard Wiseman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For over twenty years, psychologist Richard Wiseman has examined the quirky science of everyday life. In Quirkology, he navigates the oddities of human behavior, explaining the tell-tale signs that give away a liar, the secret science behind speed-dating and personal ads, and what a person’s sense of humor reveals about the innermost workings of his or her mind-all along paying tribute to others who have carried out similarly weird and wonderful work. Wiseman’s research has involved secretly observing people as they go about their daily business, conducting unusual experiments in art exhibitions and music concerts, and even staging fake séances in allegedly haunted buildings. With thousands of research subjects from all over the world, including enamored couples, unwitting pedestrians, and guileless dinner guests, Wiseman presents a fun, clever, and unexpected picture of the human mind.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Wiseman, Ph.D., is the first and only Professor of Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is also a practicing magician and was one of the youngest members of The Magic Circle. Wiseman has published over forty papers in academic journals and gained an international reputation for research into unusual areas of psychology, including deception, luck, and the paranormal. He is the author of eight books, including The Luck Factor, which has been sold in twenty-five countries. He lives in Hertfordshire, England.

Product Details

  • File Size: 769 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 2, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001QA4TD2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,240 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arm yourself now for the Christmas cocktail parties November 27, 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 behavior is more predictable than we think.
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83 of 96 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More dessert than main course. October 13, 2007
Format:Hardcover
How should one rate a book that's a kick to read but is bad "science"? This is a well-written and amusing -- even sometimes fascinating -- book. I liked it. However, I found myself wanting to contact the author and say, "Yes, that's one interpretation of the data, but what about..." for nearly every experiment he cites. The "Q" experiment he begins with, which is a sort of self-analysis/personality-profile parlor game, was utterly wrong in my case. Wiseman might dismiss that statement as an instance of self-deception (which is too easy an answer to fall back on, but common in this type of pop-psychology), but accepting his analysis of "me" would actually be far more flattering that the truth! I won't spoil the game for those who haven't read the book. If you want a taste of Wiseman's style before committing to this, go to [...] (but doing so WILL ruing the "Q" test for you), where you can even participate is some of his "research". The questions are pretty general, even vapid -- so obvious that you can see the "trick" behind them. So much for science.

I should point out, in fairness, that I already knew a lot of the information Wiseman offers here. For another reader, this book might be a revelation. Maybe.

Overall, I'd say this is a fun book that will give you some good talking points for dinner parties, and which might give you a new perspective on a few things. But it's really just an entertainment. I think Wiseman would be a wonderful lecturer for one of those lite intro courses that fulfill your university science requirement. He'd be great fun as a drinking buddy. But I'm hard pressed, after reading this book, to think of him as a serious academic. All of which shouldn't keep you from reading the book, of course. Just don't expect too much.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent source of cocktail party chat October 1, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Richard Wiseman is an experimental psychologist and professor of "public understanding of psychology." In this book, he discusses dozens of experiments performed by himself and other psychologists around the world over the course of the last hundred years. All these experiments have in common is unusual research methodology or amusing results.

Each experiment is described in as little as a paragraph, or as much as a chapter. Old favorites like the Milgram "Obediance to Authority" experiments make an appearance, and some of the recent experiments discussed got a lot of press ("what is the funniest joke in the world"), but most of the content will be new to most readers.

Topics include studies of personal ads and pickup lines, determining which are most effective, how to detect liars, manifestations of prejudice and hypocrisy (are religious people or priests more honest or generous than others? it has been tested). Wiseman even ran tests to see which experiments in the book are the most interesting, to help the reader know what would be the best conversation starters at parties.

Unusually for a mass market book, it is copiously footnoted.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I bought this book, but it turned out to be a lot like the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.) - only Dr. Wiseman's book is much, much better. Wiseman says that: "Put simply, quirkology uses scientific methods to study the more curious aspects of everyday life. This approach to psychology has been pioneered by a few researchers over the past hundred years who have followed in Galton's footsteps and had the courage to explore the places mainstream scientists avoid."

Hopefully the chapters can give you a gist as to what you will find in this book: Chapter 1 - What does your date of birth really say about you?, The New Science of Chronopsychology; Chapter 2 - Trust everyone, but always cut the cards, The Psychology of Lying and Deception; Chapter 3 - Believing six impossible things before breakfast, Psychology Enters the Twilight Zone; Chapter 4 - Making your mind up, The Strange Science of Decision Making; Chapter 5 - The scientific search for the world's funniest joke, Explorations into the Psychology of Humor; Chapter 6 - Sinner or saint?, The Psychology of When We Help and When we Hinder; Chapter 7 - The pace of life and other quirkological oddities, The Future of Quirkology.

In short, this is a terrific book. In many respects it shares a lot in common with not only Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, but also books like
... Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good book, was delivered in excellent condition
Published 2 days ago by Ben Smit
4.0 out of 5 stars If you liked 'Freakonomics' and/or Dan Ariely's 'Predictably...
If you liked 'Freakonomics' and/or Dan Ariely's 'Predictably Irrational' then you'll probably like this too. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Fuego
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
This book is just fun. It is filled with "quirky" facts about the world of human behavior. My favorite was a chapter on the search for the worlds funniest joke. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Book Fanatic
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Richard...
READ for pleasure. I discovered stuff I never considered before like people can believe life experiences they never encountered. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Karen Meyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great information, simple read
Thought that a lot of the studies were relevant to everyday life--why people do what they do (rational/irrational behavior). Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nathan Ulsh
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, amazing trivia and footnotes!
I bought this out of curiosity. Then, I started reading it. I was awake half the night, reading it. I could not put it down. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Aisling D'Art
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent. couldn't put it down.
Very informative book and one that shows us just how strange our minds work. I recommend this book to anyone curious about human psychology.
Published 8 months ago by Omega
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun & Entertaining Read.
An entertaining read. It covers a wide array of human behaviour and tells a lot of fun and memorable stories that will make you laugh at yourself and humanity. Read more
Published 9 months ago by M. Doyle
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirk off!
Did you know that people would rather wear a sweater that is covered in doggy doo doo than one that was worn by a serial killer? Read more
Published 9 months ago by BraMaster
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Amazing way of looking at the world, don't doubt your purchase, just buy it. You won't regret it, ever, I promise you
Published 11 months ago by Caitlin
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More About the Author

Richard Wiseman is Britain's only professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology and has an international reputation for his research into unusual areas including deception, luck, humour and the paranormal. He is the psychologist most frequently quoted by the British media and his research has been featured on over 150 television programmes in the UK. He is regularly heard on Radio 4 and feature articles about his work have appeared prominently throughout the national press.

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