59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot

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59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot is a popular psychology book written by Richard Wiseman and published on 2009-12-29. In the introduction, Dr. Wiseman explains how a friend wanted to know something about about psychology so he began a lengthy explanation about it, but the friend interrupted him and wanted the 59-second abridged version. Seeing that many people don't have time for lengthy psychology discussions, Wiseman set out the task of condensing the psychological research of various areas of study into segments that can be explained in 59 seconds, although, he also gives a much more detailed version explaining the research behind each segment for those who want a more thorough understanding.

I learned about this book, and Dr. Wiseman, because he is popular in the skeptic community.

Status

I'm currently reading this book.

Review

Good

  • Wiseman covers a lot of different topics in psychology including creativity, self-esteem, dating, addiction, and more.
  • I like how the book demonstrates that a lot of conventional wisdom is flat out wrong. For example, hitting a pillow doesn't help curb aggressive behavior, visualizing yourself succeeding actually prevents you from trying harder, etc.
  • It's interesting to hear various counter-intuitive psychological results. For example, congratulating a child for doing well on a test tends to cause them to do poorly in the future tests, but congratulating on worling hard and trying tends to cause them to do better.

Bad

  • Occasionally, Wiseman cites less-than-reputable research like that conducted by evolutionary psychologists, one who argues that music is a masculine trait. This causes me to question the rest of his citations.
  • Wiseman has a section where he describes Freud's id, ego, and superego. I hate how psychologists keep bringing up Freud's ideas as though there might be something to them, even though they agree they're both wrong and unscientific. Later in the book, Wiseman, in so uncertain terms says that Freud and Jung were both wrong in their theories, so why include their theories at all?

Ugly

  • Nothing.

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