Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quirkology by Richard Wiseman

image Quirkology by Richard Wiseman


This book is so entertaining that I finished it in two sittings of 4-5 hours each! It has the most interesting information about quirky psychology: things like how accurate horoscopes and superstitions really are, how some of us lie about lying to ourselves, what the funniest joke is, and more.


I don’t have the book with me now, so I’m reviewing it from memory. There’s so much information in the book that it’s impossible to remember it all, and especially not the details, but there are a few interesting things which stood out to me, and so I’ll focus on them.


I’m quite the believer in horoscopes, but what I read in the book made me question my belief. Are horoscopes accurate because they really are true, or because we’ve been conditioned to develop our personalities according to what we’ve been taught to believe is our personalities, based on our star signs?


Studies were conducted on children too young to know horoscopes, and adults from cultures who weren’t exposed to horoscopes, and it turned out there was no correlation at all with their star-signs and what the signs’ personalities were supposed to be!


Superstitions are the same: do bad things happen to us on Friday the 13th because it’s a really unlucky day, or do they happen because we believe, law of attraction style, that it’s an unlucky day? Personally, I don’t believe in superstitions for the sake of superstitions, but I do believe some were formed on some basis of truth.


Also, there was a search conducted to find the funniest joke, and in the process, they discovered that people found the letter ‘K’ to be funnier than the other letters of the alphabet.


Apparently, when we say words with the letter ‘K’, our mouths form smiles, which makes us happier and more susceptible to humor. It seems that when we smile even when we’re not feeling happy, the smiles automatically make us feel better. Conversely, when we frown even when we’re not feeling sad, the frowns make us feel sad.


To my embarrassment, there was also a study conducted to find out which cities were the most helpful and unhelpful, and it seems that Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ranked as the most unhelpful city in the world, together with Singapore and New York.


I have no defense, except to say that our crime rate, I’m again embarrassed to admit, is quite high in the city, which would account for our distrust of people who need help and who might actually be ‘undesirables’ out to harm or cheat us.


There are so many more interesting things in the book; like how tracing the letter Q on your forehead can show if you’re a good liar, how our memories can be manipulated and we can end up believing in false memories, what topics are the best to talk about on a first date to ensure there’d be a second date, how to make a person feel that you’re more attractive than you really are, how waiters can get customers to leave bigger tips, and so much more.


There’s a lot of information and details I don’t remember, but I had such fun reading this book and so many lightbulb moments while reading it! What a whole lot of amazing information is in this book!


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