Richard Wiseman’s Quirkology is subtitled The Curious Science of Everday Lives and it does indeed reveal some of the strange facts about the way we behave. He recounts for example how up to fifty percent of people in a psychological experiment where they were shown three real photograhs of their childhood and one false one, were able to recall and give details of the balloon trip they never actually took. “Mum was standing below and she took the photo” claimed one who had originally said that she had never been up in a balloon.
It is perhaps not surprising that people in restaurants in the United States give more substantial tips, not when the food and service were better but when they are happier. More surprising is the account of Kaspar, the large sculpted Art Deco cat who is seated with any party of thirteen that dines at the Savoy, given a napkin and served just like the other guests (all the result of superstition and an incident when the host of a party of thirteen was subsequently murdured).
What would you do if a £10 note popped out of a bank machine as you approached it? It is well worth reading this amusing book to find out what people did do – who was honest and how many times the ‘dishonest’ person returned to the machine.