Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Rip It Up

by Richard Wiseman

Rip It Up is one of those dangerous books you might want to share with your friends in underground meetings, and keep well out of the hands of adversaries. It's that revolutionary. In it Richard Wiseman turns everything we thought we knew about the chain of cause and effect in our behaviour on its head.

The main hypothesis is the "As-If" principle: if you behave as if something is already true in the realm of behaviour, you can make it true. Smile and you become happier; punch pillows and you become angrier and more aggressive; act out a role and you become more like that character, and so on. The book is full of examples of this phenomenon, backed up with case studies and scientific evidence and enlivened by the author's trademark corny humour.

After each section there's a break in the page and the words "Rip It Up", which you're meant to take literally. I was expecting to see some explanation along the lines of this being a way to help you remember things, but there isn't a satisfactory reason for it other than taking the reader out of their comfort zone. As a metaphor it's fine, but as an exercise it's pointless and I doubt many readers will do as suggested. This is only worth mentioning because the instruction is repeated about forty times.

Mentions of the As-If principle itself are also repetitive. Readers aren't allowed to forget that this is the point of the whole book. The trouble is, it seems like Richard Wiseman uses it to explain everything when it's often only an aspect of a behavioural problem. For instance, he talks about its role in overeating, when many other factors such as lack of sleep or myriad physical problems may be at work.

Things get sinister when the book deals with persuasion and the effect on people's political beliefs. If behaviour can create belief and moods, role play becomes a minefield. The book explores what happens when people role-play prison guards or racists, and the effect this has on their mindset. People have been advised to "fake it until you make it" for years, and this book looks at the science behind that.

Whatever flaws I've mentioned so far about this work, I could forgive them all after chapter five, which casually slips in the road map to world peace and mental wellness with a compelling case study in which a psychologist turned a group of well-adjusted boys into warring tribes, and then back into a cohesive group of friendly, peaceful citizens. This study gets to the heart of why war and peace might happen on a much larger scale. Chapter five made Rip It Up a truly valuable read. Further chapters on building confidence and changing your personality, plus dozens of other life-enhancing tips that come out of this topic, make this book absolutely golden.

2nd April 2016

Book Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Books


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5 star rating

Review ©

Source: own copy
Read more about Richard Wiseman

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