The hosts of the Two Guys on Your Head radio show and podcast, which examines “an array of interesting, head-scratching quandaries about human behavior,” seek to replicate their snappy dialogue in print.
Markman (Psychology and Marketing/Univ. of Texas; Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others, 2014, etc.) and Duke (Music and Human Learning/Univ. of Texas; Intelligent Music Teaching, 2005) cover a wide range of topics without taking themselves too seriously. In the first of the 40 brief chapters, they give an affirmative answer to the question, “Does being open to experience lead to success?” How the brain formulates opinions is less obvious, and the authors challenge our complacency when it comes to valuing the opinions we cherish. Their efforts to fill gaps in our knowledge are fun and sometimes-insightful but don’t always fully answer the questions they pose; this is a book to dip into now and then for an interesting tidbit. They begin with a useful tip for catching liars: look for a lack of detail compared to what a truthful person might have to say, since liars often have no direct experience of the events they are discussing. Another bit of practical advice is the suggestion that taking frequent naps is a better strategy for getting smarter than participating in brain-training exercises, and the best way to remember an apparently disconnected fact is to embed it in a story—though the authors fail to mention that the value of such mnemonic prompts has been a well-established, widely accepted truth over centuries. On the other hand, their explanation of why it is easier to learn a new language before puberty is obvious yet completely original: in short, as we enter puberty, we are handicapped by our embarrassment about making mistakes in public.
An entertaining and modestly informative but not entirely successful effort to replicate the fast-moving repartee that enlivens the authors’ radio show.