“I had little left to prove, and a great deal to lose. I knew Donna and our three kids could feel the stress. We were all watching the calendar. In sixteen months, I’d be eligible for retirement with a full government pension…”
“When you work undercover, its always a good idea to greet an out-of-town target at the airport. A guy just getting off a plane is less likely to be carrying a weapon…”
“In Brazil, they expained, flight is considered as natural a right as freedom of speech. There’s no crime in Brazil for resisting arrest or fleeing prosecution…”
“The Mona Lisa investigation took an awkward turn early on, when two radical modernists were wrongly detained under the theory that they’d stolen an icon of Old World art as some sort of artistic/political protest. One of the arrested radicals was a young artist named Pablo Picasso…”
On Asia: “If we were driving slowly people stopped what they were doing – even if they were doing nothing – and watched us pass…”.
On travel in Asia: “There were two boats, both full by the time we got to the dock – half an hour early, at six-thirty in the morning – but in Southeast Asia no form of transport is ever completely full, for course, and so we squeezed onto the roof with the other Westerners …”.Linguistic tinkering: “I wished I’d been doing yoga for years – in fact I’d been wishing I’d been doing yoga for years for years…”.Typical Dyerian thought-provoking wordplay: “Art Deco…means nice looking, or, more exactly, not as nice as it looks…”.On Ancient Rome: “…the defining feature of antiquity was how uninteresting it was to read about…I am no stranger to boredom. I have been bored for much of my life, by many things but, equally, I have also been fantastically interested by many other things. Antiquity represented a weird synthesis – a kind of short circuit – of these two currents of my life: for the first time ever I was bored by what I was interested in…”. .On Detroit directions: “…I drove from the Institute of Arts to the Michigan Central Railroad Station, near where the old Tigers Stadium used to be (directions in Detroit have their own special tense: everything is where something used to be)…”.
And finally, both on travel, and on a sensation I sincerely hope I never experience: “…I had been feeling what I suspected might be the tug of middle age. It manifested itself as a diminution of everything by which I had previously set the greatest store (vitality, appetite for new things, new challenges) and an intensifying wish for the familiar…”.
This book was a compilation of my favourite ‘Our brains are actually quite stupid…or are they amazingly smart?’ research and experiments on how the human mind works.
“…a few years ago a man won the Spanish national lottery with a ticket that ended in the number 48. Proud of his ‘accomplishment,’ he revealed the theory that brought him the riches. ‘I dreamed of the number seven for seven straight nights,’ he said, ‘and 7×7 is 48…'”
“John Grisham’s manuscript for ‘A Time To Kill’ was rejected by 26 publishers…Dr.Suess’s first children’s book, ‘And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,’ was rejected by 27 publishers. And J.K.Rowling’s first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by nine. There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel and the presence of huge stacks of that novel at the front of thousands of retail outlets…”
“…the most probable number of changes in the lead is zero, and it is 88 times more probable that one of the two will lead through all 20,000”!
“Which is greater, the number six-letter English words having an ‘n’ as their fifth letter or the number of six-letter English words ending in -ing?”
“inspired by geometry, remarked that no things could be more nearly alike than parallel lines and hence decided that such lines should denote equality.”
Here’s a brain-twister that kept me confused for hours. Give it a go yourself:
“If a woman is pregnant with fraternal twins, what are the chances, given that one of the children is a girl that both children will be girls?”
“How many people must a group contain in order for there to be a better than even chance that two members of the group will share the same birthday?”
“A prior sense of helplessness and lack of control is linked to both stress and the onset of disease. In one study wild rats were suddenly deprived of all control over their environment. They soon stopped struggling to survive and died. In another study, in a group of subjects who were told they were going to take a battery of important tests, even the pointless power to control the order of those tests was found to reduce anxiety levels.”
“When one patient was observed writing in his diary, it was noted in the nursing record that: ‘Patient engages in writing behaviour’…”