Monday, November 23, 2015
Findings: An Illustrated Collection by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi
Grand Central Publishing: 11/24/15
eBook review copy; 144 pages
Findings: An Illustrated Collection by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi is a recommended, irreverent collection of the bizarre and beloved back-page column of Harper's Magazine. What the column does is present a tidbit from a scientific study somewhere and illustrates the often hilarious and absurd fact.
Facts presented and illustrated include little tidbits like:
"Scientists made graduate students provoke spitting cobras into attacking them."
"The faces of Lego people have been growing angrier."
"Vanilla yogurt gives mice glossier coats and larger testicles."
"Pond snails on crystal meth are better at remembering pokes from a sharp stick."
"Croatian boy previously thought to be magnetic was more recently thought simply to be very sticky."
The very short book has a long A Conversation with the Author section and includes citations for each scientific fact presented and illustrated.
As noted in the Conversation with the Author section: "I think the people who read this column and understand and appreciate it are over the idea that science takes place for science’s sake, to the extent that this idea both is and isn’t true. Findings celebrates the idea that modern science is a tremendously powerful and productive and beneficial and motivating and clarifying force, but the idea that everything that goes on is part of this heroic, conclusive, triumphalist narrative is also silly. You know, the universe defies and denies and startles and confounds us just as our own bodies defy and deny and startle and confound us. Findings’ being funny is partly a corrective to that particular form of triumphalist narrative."
The greatest drawback and reason for many of the low ratings is that this is a very, very, extremely short book. You also may need to take note that some of the facts contain more earthy humor.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing for review purposes.