Richard Wiseman has just released a new book called Quirkology.
Grey Matter readers will remember him from his magic square performance video. Many others will remember him from his amazing color changing card trick video:
This video, as it happens, is an excellent example of what the book, and the Quirkology site, is all about. From the site:
'Quirkology' is a term coined by Prof Wiseman to refer to psychological research that is quirky. Much of this work uses mainstream methods to investigate unusual topics, or unusual methods to investigate mainstream topics.
The best way to get an idea of exactly what this means is to participate in some of the live experiments yourself (UK link), or even some of the past experiments (UK link)!
Any who knows me will tell you I am a big fan of all things quirky and whimsical. Beyond just being quirky for quirkiness' sake, however, Quirkology looks into these ideas analytically. The scientific search for the world's funniest joke is about much more than just which joke is truly the funniest one, but about what can be learned in the search. Check out the introduction (UK link) for a better idea of the book.
If you relate quirky ideas to magic tricks (as happens in the book), then I'd describe this not as learning how a magic trick works, but rather why the magic tricks work, and how they are perceived. For a student of human nature and ideas, Quirkology ranks right up there with Made To Stick.