Seriously Curious: The Facts and Figures that Turn Our World Upside Down

Seriously Curious: The Facts and Figures that Turn Our World Upside Down

by Tom Standage

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Smart, savvy answers to universal questions, from the highly popular The Economist Explains and Daily Chart blogs-a treat for the knowing, the uninitiated, and the downright curious.

Seriously Curious: The Facts and Figures that Turn Our World Upside Down brings together the very best explainers and charts, written and created by top journalists to help us understand such brain-bending conundrums as why Swedes overpay their taxes, why America still allows child marriage, and what the link is between avocados and crime. Subjects both topical and timeless, profound and peculiar, are explained with The Economist's trademark wit and verve.

The Economist Explains and its online sister, the Daily Chart, are the two most popular blogs on The Economist's website. Together, these online giants provide answers to the kinds of questions, quirky and serious, that may be puzzling anyone interested in the world around them. Want to know why exorcisms are on the rise in France or how porn consumption changed during a false alarm missile strike warning in Hawaii? We have the answers They are sometimes surprising, often intriguing, and always enlightening.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541730120
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 11/27/2018
Series: Economist Books
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 345,188
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

Tom Standage is Deputy Editor of The Economist. He joined the magazine in 1998, and has been Technology Editor, Business Editor, and Digital Editor. He is author of six books, including Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years and The Victorian Internet, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, and Wired.

Table of Contents

Introduction: the case for being seriously curious 1

Seriously curious: unexpected explanations to stretch your mind 3

Why polygamy makes civil wars more likely 5

Why there is a shortage of sand 7

How shoelaces untie themselves 9

Why the sea is salty 11

Why diamond production may be about to peak 13

Why Boko Haram prefers female suicide bombers 15

Move over, oil. Which countries have the most lithium? 17

Why the global arms trade is booming 19

What do think-tanks do? 21

How to measure the black market for cigarettes 23

Mapping the rise and fall of witch-hunting 25

Globally curious: peculiar proclivities from around the world 29

Why spaghetti is smuggled across the Sahara 31

Why so many places are called Guinea - and turkeys don't come from Turkey 32

Why New Zealand has so many gang members 34

Why the exorcism business is booming in France 36

Why China has the world's worst flight delays 38

Why Somaliland is east Africa's strongest democracy 40

Why yurts are going out of style in Mongolia 42

Which cities have the highest murder rates? 44

Why young Britons are committing fewer crimes 47

How car colours reflect Britain's national mood 49

Why Swedes overpay their taxes 51

Mapping the world's mega-rich 53

Why nobody knows how many Nigerians there are 54

Why Chinese children born in the year of the dragon are more successful 56

Sexual selection: love, sex and marriage 59

Why the sperm-bank business is booming 61

How porn consumption changed during Hawaii's false alarm 63

Why transgender people are being sterilised in some European countries 65

How opinions on acceptable male behaviour vary by age, sex and nationality 67

What porn and listings sites reveal about Britain's gay population 70

Attitudes to same-sex relationships around the world 73

Why couples do more housework than single people 75

What men and women think about their partners' careers and housework 77

How tracking boosts birth rates 79

What explains Europe's low birth rates? 81

Why America still allows child marriage 84

Also on the menu: oddities of food and drink 87

The surprising link between avocados and crime 89

Why China's dog-meat market has expanded 91

Why obesity is a growing problem in poor countries 93

The Argentine-American lemon war of 2001-2018 95

Which European country has the most craft breweries per person? 97

Why some American cities don't like food trucks 99

How wine glasses have got bigger over the years 101

Why food packaging is good for the environment 103

Peak booze? Alcohol consumption is falling around the world 105

Why wheat has a more complex genome than humans 107

Asian countries are eating more wheat 109

By the numbers: economical, with the truth 111

The easiest way to get rich in America 113

Why women still earn much less than men 115

Why China is rebuilding the old Silk Road 117

Why "death taxes" have fallen out of favour 119

Wealth inequality has been increasing since the stone age 121

What makes something a commodity? 123

Does longevity always increase with national wealth? 125

Why do companies exist? 127

Millennial Americans are just as loyal to their employers as previous generations 129

Why old-fashioned manufacturing jobs aren't coming back 131

Why India scrapped its two biggest bank notes 133

The roots of the gender pay gap lie in childhood 135

Department of white coats: science, health and the environment 137

Can young blood really rejuvenate the old? 139

What people want at the end of life 141

How China reduced its air pollution 143

Why forests are spreading in the rich world 145

The Arctic could be ice-free by 2040, 30 years sooner than expected 147

Why there's something in the water in New Zealand 149

Measures to discourage smoking are spreading around the world 151

Why "gene drives" have yet to be deployed in the wild 153

Why it is so hard to fix India's sanitation problems 155

Why some deadly diseases are hard to eradicate 157

Why China is sick of foreign waste 159

Why are wolves coming back in France? 161

Why biggest isn't fastest in the animal kingdom 163

Geek speak: getting technical 165

What is a brain-computer interface? 167

The link between video games and unemployment 169

What do robots do all day? 171

Why 5G might be both faster and slower than previous wireless technologies 173

Mobile phones are more common than electricity in much of sub-Saharan Africa 175

Why self-driving cars will mostly be shared, not owned 177

How ride-hailing apps reduce drink-driving 179

What is augmented reality? 181

Why we're still waiting for the space elevator 183

How astronomers spotted the first interstellar asteroid 185

Why drones could pose a greater risk to aircraft than birds 187

What is the point of spam e-mail? 189

Why the police should wear body cameras 191

Why tech giants are laying their own undersea cables 193

Game theory: sport and leisure 195

Why tennis players grunt 197

Why board games are so popular in Nigeria 199

How drones can keep beaches safe from sharks 201

How football transfers work 203

How St Louis became America's chess capital 205

What does "digitally remastering" a film really mean? 207

How bookmakers deal with winning customers 209

The world's highest-earning football clubs 210

Speaking my language: words and wisdom 213

Why emoji have beneficial linguistic side-effects 215

How the letters of the alphabet got their names 217

Why Papua New Guinea has so many languages 219

Is Serbo-Croatian one language or four? 221

How language is bound up with national identity 223

How machines learned to process human language 225

Why the World Bank needs to cut down on the word "and" 227

The French argument over a new punctuation mark 229

Seasonal selection: festivals and holidays demystified 231

Where new year's resolutions come from 233

How St Patrick's Day celebrations went global 235

Why Easter moves around so much 237

Why Europeans slack off in August 239

How Thanksgiving became a secular holiday 241

How weather, religion and daylight hours affect Christmas music consumption 243

How Christmas, once a raucous carnival, was domesticated 246

Contributors 248

Index 249

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