"Our sense of wonder grows exponentially; the greater the knowledge, the deeper the mystery."

-- E.O. Wilson

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quirky "Quirkology"

Psychology That Is More Fun Than It Ought Ever Be....

Is it my imagination or do the British really have the world's best sense of humor? British psychology professor Dr. Richard Wiseman has turned doing quirky off-the-wall studies into a full-time career, with jocular results.
I likely won't find time to fully review his offering, "Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things" (depending which edition you come across the subtitle may differ), so I'll simply say it is a VERY entertaining volume overall (some chapters certainly moreso than others, but overall a fun, interesting read). It relates studies he has conducted over the last 20 years which have "been hidden away in obscure academic journals," at least until the publication of this book in 2007. In his own words, some of these studies "use mainstream methods to investigate unusual topics" while "others use unusual methods to investigate mainstream topics." A brief Web review is here.

Much of the book is even available online courtesy of google books here.
How could a book with an entire chapter on searching for the world's funniest joke not be an entertaining read! Some may find the volume shallow as a scientific offering, but I suspect Wiseman might argue that what is lacking is not so much depth, as pretentiousness.

Wiseman also runs a website covering some of the same interesting material, as well as ongoing interactive experiments.
And Quirkology and Dr. Wiseman have a presence on YouTube here.
Possibly the most fun and highly-viewed of their short YouTube videos is this piece of hocus-pocus (...prepare to be baffled).

If you're feeling a bit bored with things lately, this book could be the perfect pick-me-upper.



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