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This Is Improbable: Cheese String Theory, Magnetic Chickens, and Other WTF Research Paperback – September 6, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“After reading this hilarious book, you'll never look at scientists in the same way again.”
--
Terry Jones, bestselling author and Python




“Wonderful! The definitive compendium of quirky, jaw-dropping research”
--
Richard Wiseman, author of :59 seconds




“Delightful... a pleasure to read in the bathroom and in the bedroom, and the kind of book that makes you seem smarter when you share it with friends (just make sure you wash your hands first).”
--
Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational




“Marc Abrahams is a perfectly calibrated filtration system into which all of science is poured and out of which comes pure, giddy goofball delight. This book is a delicious, addictive treat.”
--
Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Packing for Mars


About the Author


Marc Abrahams is the editor and co-founder of the science humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research and a weekly columnist for the Guardian. He is the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, which honour achievements that make people laugh, and then think, and which are presented in an annual ceremony at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife, Robin.



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (September 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781851689316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689316
  • ASIN: 1851689311
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
To think that serious research was done (and most likely continues to be done) on the topics outlined in this book just boggles the mind. Fortunately, the author has such a way with words that reading about these works is an absolute pleasure, which would not likely be the case if one were to read the original papers. On average, each work of research is described in just one to two pages. These are grouped into twelve chapters, each of which has its own particular topical slant.

Once again, this book's most important feature, in my view, is the author's continuous tongue-in-cheek and often absolutely hilarious summaries of the research. His careful choice of words to suit each topic is absolutely priceless. Despite the fact that I found some of the research summaries to be rather uninteresting, in many of the other cases I laughed to the point of having tears in my eyes. And it's mainly for these many prize winners that I gave this book a perfect score.

All in all, because the author has ensured that the book is devoid of specialized jargon (unless included for effect) anyone looking for laughs can enjoy this book tremendously, while, as a bonus, learn about how some hard-earned research money is being spent.
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This is a very well written and rather fun little book about what might be described as "stranger but true 'research.'" If, like me, you've been struggling to get funded for research, and getting it published (for that necessary publish or perish mentality of academia), you'll be consoled. Despite your self-doubts about your research (yes, you have them!), criticisms from grant review and funding committees, journal editorial boards, and maybe even your colleagues, you'll get a chuckle out of the absolute CRAP that gets passed off as "important" research and actually gets published (usually in junk journals). If Senator McGovern and his Golden Fleece awards were still around, most of the stuff described in this little tome would top the list for their "Ignobility." Most of the "studies" were conducted either long ago or, more often, not in the US (at least not at major research centers), so you can take some solace (I surely hope) that your hard-earned taxpayer dollars didn't fund this garbage.

The author frequently uses puns, and although they're often considered the lowest form of humor they really add to this book. To add to the readability of this book, the descriptions of so-called research are short and to the point (and include citations to the publication sources, just in case you think the author is making this ridiculous stuff up), so if you need a short break from work you can pick up the book, read just a few pages if you like, put it down, and then start reading again anywhere you want.

The purchase price of the book is small in comparison with the chuckles you'll get, the head shakes of disbelief, and perhaps even the firm knowledge and consolation that there's a hell of a lot of research going on that's worse than your own.
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By mom on January 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you, or someone you're buying a gift for, loves science, this is a great book. It's intelligent, interesting, funny, and enjoyable! My son loves science, physics, math, and all that is connected with that. I got the book as a gift for him. There are few books that make those topics fun -- yet savvy for someone who thinks in that realm. It's a great read. I even liked it!
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Lots of strange items, but the descriptions were silly and boring. Could not find anything worth mentioning to anybody else.
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Filled with short re-written accounts of published research. The author fits some humor in, but each account was so short it left me wondering what I had just read about, and most of it I didn't enjoy.
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This is another "best of" collection, and if you're a subscriber to AIR (Annals of Improbable Research) and/or the JIR (Journal of Irreproducible Results) this will appeal to your sense of humor.
The entries are written by those in the sciences, and range from tongue-in-cheek parodies, to listings of real, but absurd research projects and papers (in their terms, "WTF research"). It's got a very high nerd factor, but for those in the fields, or with reasonable scientific literacy, it's a gas!
You can get an idea of the contents by checking out improbable.com or the IgNoble Prizes.
For those with an ocd-like need to know (and my recollection may be fuzzy), the enterprise was a spinoff from the Worm Runners Digest of the 1960's which morphed into the JIR. There were some publishing/copyright hassles, and Mark Abrahams left JIR to found AIR. By some sort of magic, or whatever, it seems he's now editor of both. Huh?
Highly recommended for a select audience.This is Improbable: Cheese String Theory, Magnetic Chickens and Other WTF Research
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