This just in: People can be irritating. But did you know that there are scientific reasons that we get annoyed? In “Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us” ($26, Wiley), NPR science correspondents Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman explain why everyday things can drive you into a homicidal rage. Custom phone numbers that have too many letters, for instance. (No, 1-800-MATTRESS. You don’t leave the last “s” off for “savings.” You leave it off because you are OUT OF NUMBERS.) Ahead of the authors’ talk Sunday at Politics and Prose, we asked Lichtman to shed some light on a few bugaboos that drive us up the wall.
Read the whole story: The Express
Joe Palca will be at the APS 23rd Annual Convention in Washington, DC on Saturday, May 28 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM at the Washington Hilton. Palca will not only participate in a book signing, but he is eager to hear about your own personal irritants. Convention attendees will have a chance to help validate a survey that Palca and his co-author Flora Lichtman are using to measure how annoying people are.
About Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us
Whether it’s fingernails being clipped in public or a “halfalogue” cell phone conversation, it turns out we’re hardwired to be sensitive to sights and sounds that are dissonant, disgusting, or merely violate social norms. This book gives fascinating, surprising explanations for why people react the way they do to everything from chili peppers to fingernails on a blackboard. It even explains why irrational behavior (like tearing your hair out in traffic) is connected to worthwhile behavior (like staying on task), and includes tips for identifying your own irritating habits! Annoying is “immensely entertaining,” notes a review in The New York Times. “Some annoyances are particular to the individual, some are universal to the species, and some, like the fly, appear to torture all mammals. If ever there was a subject for scientists to pursue for clues to why we are who we are, this is the one.”