Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe

Jim Davies. Palgrave Macmillan, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-137-27901-9
Davies, a professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University, attempts to devise a “compellingness foundations theory” to explain much of human behavior, building on the basics of evolutionary psychology. He flits from topic to topic, landing briefly and probing gently before moving on. In the midst of asking whether there is a link between the way we perceive humor and profanity, for example, he detours into a very brief discussion of tickling before returning to humor, having left profanity behind. Although Davies makes abundant use of footnotes, he offers so little discussion of the research he cites that unless the reader is already familiar with the works cited, they are not likely to prove useful in advancing his thesis. One of Davies’s goals is to “explain why we find religious and paranormal ideas riveting” while demonstrating that “supernatural beliefs are false,” yet his findings will leave readers yearning for more substance. His general observations are similarly banal: “We don’t seem to have nonartistic, nonerotic photos... of people we don’t recognize.” Davies addresses an array of captivating questions superficially and with little insight. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/05/2014
Release date: 08/05/2014
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-137-43814-0
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