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Literary Agent: Don Fehr of Trident Media Group Literary Agency
Publicity: Lauren Janiec at St Martin's Press
Jim Davies is a full professor in the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University, where he has won several teaching awards. He has degrees in philosophy, computer science, and cognitive psychology. As director of the Science of Imagination Laboratory, he explores processes of imagination in humans and machines, and specializes in artificial intelligence, analogy, problem-solving, and the psychology of art, religion, and creativity. His work has shown how people use visual thinking to solve problems, and how they visualize imagined situations and worlds.
He is author of over 50 peer-reviewed publications in the fields of cognitive science, artificial intelligence, philosophy, and psychology. He is a regular contributor to Nautilus magazine, and wrote the popular science book Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make us Laugh, Movies Make us Cry, and Religion Makes us Feel One with the Universe. He has been asked to speak at three TEDx events, and his work was featured on the Brain Games television program.
In his spare time, he is a published poet, an internationally-produced playwright, and a professional painter, calligrapher, and swing dancer.
Title: Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe
Author: Jim Davies
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan/St Martin's Press (August 5, 2014)
Languages: English, complex Chinese, Russian
APA Citation: Davies, J. (2014). Riveted: The science of why jokes make us laugh, movies make us cry, and religion makes us feel one with the universe. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Publicist: Lauren Janiec at Palgrave Macmillan, Lauren.Janiec@stmartins.com
Why do some things pass under the radar of our attention, but other things capture our interest? Why do some religions catch on and others fade away? What makes a story, a movie, or a book riveting? Why do some people keep watching the news even though it makes them anxious?
The past twenty years have seen a remarkable flourishing of scientific research into exactly these kinds of questions. Professor Jim Davies’ fascinating and highly accessible book, Riveted, reveals the evolutionary underpinnings of why we find things compelling, from art to religion, from sports to superstition. Compelling things fit our minds like keys in the ignition, turning us on and keeping us running, and yet we are often unaware of what makes these “keys,” fit. What we like and don’t like is almost always determined by subconscious forces, and when we try to consciously predict our own preferences we’re often wrong. In one study of speed dating, people were asked what kinds of partners they found attractive. When the results came back, the participants’ answers before the exercise had no correlation with who they actually found attractive in person! We are beginning to understand just how much the brain makes our decisions for us: we are rewarded with a rush of pleasure when we detect patterns, as the brain thinks we’ve discovered something significant; the mind urges us to linger on the news channel or rubberneck an accident in case it might pick up important survival information; it even pushes us to pick up People magazine in order to find out about changes in the social structure.
Drawing on work from philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, psychology, economics, computer science, and biology, Davies offers a comprehensive explanation to show that in spite of the differences between the many things that we find compelling, they have similar effects on our minds and brains.
Riveted reveals the evolutionary underpinnings of why we find things compelling, from art to religion and from sports to superstition. Drawing on work from philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, psychology, economics, computer science, and biology, Davies offers a comprehensive explanation to show that in spite of the differences between the many things that we find compelling, they have similar effects on our minds and brains.
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Please credit Daniel Thompson photography.