Science fiction and fantasy                                            

59 Seconds: Think A Little, Change A Lot

by Richard Wiseman


Once in a while a book comes along that you want to keep to yourself. 59 Seconds is such a book. Richard Wiseman takes the platitudes of self-help gurus and applies science, often with surprising results.

The book debunks some very pervasive myths, from the uselessness of positive thinking or punching a pillow when you're angry, to how to tell when someone is lying to you. Topics include happiness, persuasion, motivation, creativity, attraction, stress, relationships, decision making, parenting, and personality. As well as rubbishing the bad advice there are plenty of good tips for better living, backed up by a variety of scientific studies.

The main lesson seems to be that self-help is a topic where science has made good progress recently, and anything less rigorous isn't good enough.

The "59 seconds" is because the book is all about quickly and accessibly giving out useful, actionable tips. So there is a summary at the end of the book of a number of the tips, whilst most of the chapters go into more depth about why an approach works or doesn't and what the evidence is. It's self-help for the busy. As such it's a little bit short, and it's certainly a very quick read. But that's not a bad thing: it's shorter because it misses out the padding and wordiness that make some books hard to digest. This is a case of Richard Wiseman practising what he preaches. In the chapter on persuasion he discusses the problem of using over-complicated vocabulary: not only is it harder to understand, it also makes people thing the speaker or writer is less intelligent.

Although this book is fairly short (and it perhaps seems shorter than it is) it is quite good value, especially if you pick up something that will improve your life. Some of the revelations are old news, but I think only the most avid followers of psychology would find nothing new.

20th December 2015

Book Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Books


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5 star rating

Review ©

Source: own copy
Read more about Richard Wiseman

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