Friday, April 29, 2011

There's a Science to Annoyance

In Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman, multimedia editor for NPR’s Science Friday, take readers on a scientific quest through psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and other disciplines to uncover the truth about being annoyed. What is the recipe for annoyance? For starters, it should be temporary, unpleasant, and unpredictable, like a boring meeting or mosquito bites.
  For example, why is that guy talking on his cell phone over there so annoying? For one, it’s unpleasant and distracting. Second, we don’t know, and can’t control, when it will end. Third, we can’t not listen! Our brains are hardwired to pay close attention to people talking and follow the conversations. The loud chatter pulls our brains away to listen to half of something we’re never going to understand. In Annoying, Palca and Lichtman can talk about annoyingness in any context: business, politics, romance, science, sports, and more.

How often can you say you’re happily reading a really annoying book? The insights are fascinating, the exploration is fun, and the knowledge you gain, if you act like you know everything, can be really annoying.

Read an excerpt.

Annoying Book Promo from flora lichtman on Vimeo.

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