Saturday, December 1, 2012

BOOK: Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palca, Flora Lichtman

Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palca, Flora Lichtman, (audio book, 6 h 9 min)

I'm quite enjoying listening to these nonfiction audio books, now that I've discovered the power of my iPhone, and the attachment in the car. It's easy to stop and start in small pieces with nonfiction - I don't have to follow the thread of a plot.  I usually listen to CBC radio, so am used to landing in the middle of some informational show. My biggest criteria to begin with is length - getting through the books in three weeks library loan can be a challenge, so Annoying seemed about perfect.

Annoying is a fledgling scientific field with just the beginnings of research. The authors, who alternated reading the chapters, have gathered all the available research and explain what has been done, as well as going through what might define an annoyance, and why we would get annoyed at something. Lack of predictability is a big factor in many annoyances, and explains why a one-sided cell phone conversation annoys nearly everyone. Evolutionary reasons? A scream or cry can be annoying but it will wake you up to feed your baby or warn you of danger. Genetic reasons? Is there a gene that makes some people more susceptible to annoyances? Huntington patients may hold a key as their brains are affected. Neuroscience and psychology are looking into brain research.

It was all very interesting stuff.