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The fine science of 'quirkology'

Psychologist Richard Wiseman's Quirkology delves into the unexplained - from how our surnames influence us to why Delhiites are more helpful than Londoners.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2007 19:00 IST

Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives
Author: Richard Wiseman
Publisher: Macmillan
Price: Rs 595

There are two kinds of sciences. One, the kind you cram so that you can somehow make it to that BSc course and avoid becoming an underpaid journalist; two, the quirky science of everyday life that is not explained — or even touched upon — by Nelson & Parker or any of those grand tomes that you sell to the raddiwala after the job is done.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman deals with the second kind in Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives Apart from investigating into the fake smile (Guillaume Duchenne’s 1862 book The Mechanism of Human Facial Expressions provides important clues) and nonastrological methods of determining whether there are causal effects on people and the month of the year they were born. Wiseman, with all the wisdom and wit real life can provide, asks how surnames influence our lives, why women should have men write their personal ads and why Delhiites are more helpful than Londoners. (Yes, this is an empirical fact!)

Not only does this delightful book make science ‘sexy’, it actually makes the reader look at the world in a different way. What Levitt and Dubner did with economics in Freakonomics, Wiseman does with science.