Why Can't Elephants Jump? contains questions and answers submitted by readers of New Scientist magazine. Each submission is signed with the name and l...moreWhy Can't Elephants Jump? contains questions and answers submitted by readers of New Scientist magazine. Each submission is signed with the name and location of the person who wrote in, although there are times when the submission is anonymous. While this doesn't always give us an idea of the expertise of the author (some of the writers sign with their job title, and are indeed experts), it does give the reader the advantage of having many different answers from different angles.
Some of the questions submitted are things that we might all have wondered at one time or another, like whether a martini really does taste different if shaken rather than stirred, and why. Some of the answers are very scientific and may not be easily parsed by the layperson. I would have appreciated it if the publisher would have given USA units in parentheses after metric measurements. I know that metric is what nearly the entire world uses, and is the more scientific and accepted system, but the fact remains that most Americans have trouble with the metric system and would have an easier time reading and understanding this book with both measurements given.
Why Can't Elephants Jump? isn't the kind of book you can sit and read for long periods of time--I tried. Instead, I think it is much better as a coffee table, or even a bathroom book. The articles are short enough that you can flip through and pick one to take a few minutes to read, then walk away a little wiser and somewhat entertained. If you have an interest in learning some of the scientific reasons for basic questions, you may want to check out this book.(less)
Have you ever called somebody a psychopath? Did you only think that psychopaths are deranged murderers? Do you enjoy taking a look at the darker side...moreHave you ever called somebody a psychopath? Did you only think that psychopaths are deranged murderers? Do you enjoy taking a look at the darker side of the psychiatric industry, all the while with a laugh in your heart and a smile on your face? Then Ronson’s latest zany journalistic adventure The Psychopath Test may be for you.
The title comes from something called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a simple list that can help you determine if a person is a psychopath or not. As Ronson finds out, massive (and expensive) training sessions are given to train psychiatric professionals to use this test and to spot the psychopaths in their midst. After taking this training, Ronson starts to see psychopaths everywhere. He constantly finds himself seeing how people he meets measure up to the test, and thinking of psychopaths less as people and more as predators and monsters.
Just like in his earlier books, Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats, Ronson is able to involve himself with people on the fringes of society, and to describe the absurdities around us with both humor and cutting insight. Sure it’s hilarious that we give people these seemingly overly simple tests; that is, until they are locked up for the rest of their lives because psychopathy isn’t believed to be curable.
Along the way, Ronson interviews members of the Church of Scientology, a retired CEO who loved to fire people, an inmate of a high security psychiatric ward, and a former leader of a Haitian death squad. Ronson’s stylistic narration and internal thoughts are what makes this book utterly engrossing. I raced through it, and craved more. If any of this review piques your interest at all, go get this book.(less)