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Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time…

Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception (2012)

by Claudia Hammond

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Showing 5 of 5
This was very readable, I enjoyed it a lot. The author tackles the subject of how neurologists are studying the issue of how people perceive time. It's an interesting topic, and the author does a good job of presenting it in general terms using examples that are clear and intriguing. Topics include how time is linked to memory, and how it is linked to the ability to imagine the future.

A few quibbles - the author is British and makes some assumptions about how people perceive time that seem very culturally rooted and she doesn't quite seem aware of that. She writes about how rare it is to talk about distance in terms of time ... which is so, so typical in the U.S. ("How far away is it?" "Oh, about 2 hours.")

On a more individual note, she has framed the book around an example of going on vacation -- while you are there, it seems like your time is rushing by (which I agree with) but when you return home, it seems like you have been gone for a very long time ... which, I don't know about that at all. Whenever I get back from vacation, it feels like I was gone for only a flash, almost like I never left. By the end of the book, as she has linked this example to more specific things, I felt like I had a somewhat better idea of what she was talking about (like it is true that one tends to do more exciting things than usual during a vacation, so you have having more memorable times in general) but I will still never describe it as lasting for a long time. ( )
  delphica | Jun 10, 2015 |
I think learning about how people think and how they use their brains is endlessly fascinating. That is why I am such a big fan of Oliver Sacks who writes about diseases of the brain that he has studied throughout his career as a neurologist. Claudia Hammond has written a book about what is really just a small part of how we use our brain i.e. how we perceive time but there is lots to sink your teeth into. I have spent the last couple of days asking people one of the questions that is posed in this book. The question is "Next Wednesday's meeting has had to be moved forward two days. What day is the meeting on now?" When I read this I said to myself "Monday of course" and I was astonished to read that some people answer that question with Friday. I've now asked 6 people this same question and 4 have answered Friday, 1 has answered Monday and 1 answered Saturday (which is just plain weird). Supposedly the people that answer with Monday see the future as approaching them while the people that answered Friday see themselves as approaching the future. Who knew?

That's just one of the fascinating nuggets that I picked up from this book. My biggest complaint about the book is that I found her writing to be very repetitive. She deals in a chapter about why time seems to progress faster as we age but in almost every chapter up to that point she tells us that people find time goes faster as they get older. She alludes to the fact that she will be discussing it in a future chapter a number of times. Is this to keep our interest? Does she think we might forget that this is a common perception? Claudia Hammond is a broadcaster by trade so maybe that has something to do with this constant repetition, like the old adage about public speaking about telling the audience what you are going to say, then say it, then tell them what you said. Maybe that's important in an oral presentation but I don't think it is in a book.

That said I would encourage anyone interested in how our minds work to pick this book up. You will come away with at least some idea of what makes us "tick". ( )
  gypsysmom | Oct 2, 2013 |
The problem, for me, with this book is that it never attempts to get to grips with the question, 'What is time?'.

We have a chapter on synisthesia - the mixing of our senses whereby some people see colours when they hear music and associate a specific colour with each day of the week, etc..

We are told that day dreaming is good; it is evolutions method allowing us to prepare for possible futures. Each time we buy a lottery ticket we dream of what we would do were our numbers to come up and are thus more prepared in the (very) unlikely event that such occurs. Next, we are told that we do not use this information well; we skew our use to only the last time that we considered the prospect. In a sentence, the useful nature of day dreams, built up over a chapter, is shattered.

We gain advice as to how to slow down time, if one feels it is running away from one, or speed it up if time palls. Both solutions are more interesting than practical and the whole concept of concerning oneself with the attempt has slightly less value than it would have been to issue each passenger on the Titanic with a tea cup and suggest that they start to bail.

The book is well presented and Claudia Hammond has a pleasing style, although her little homilies, whilst designed to relegate the author to 'no better than the reader', came across as invented, rather than drawn from life. She tells the story of a programme she made for Radio in which she 'remembers' taking part in an experiment whereby one plunges one's arm in iced water to discover how long one can bear the pain. Having mentioned this to a fellow broadcaster, the tape is checked: she watched others, but did not take part herself. Ms. Hammond admits to false memory syndrome (one cannot be mistaken!). I know that I would fight harder for my belief that I had completed the experiment - " it must have been cut out of the final programme", "I must have done it prior to, or post production", are but the two responses that would immediately spring to my tongue.

Quite an entertaining read, but do not expect a wiser perspective upon time. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Aug 12, 2012 |
The concept for the book is appealing, beginning to understand why time flies by when you're having fun as opposed to spending a day clock watching. There are one or two key parts of the book that were enjoyable to read about and I learned about our body clocks from these - such as Michel Siffre who spent two months in an ice cave in complete darkness and also Philip Zimbardo's Time Perspective Inventory was equally as interesting.

Where I became restless in my reading was the repeated references to suicide and conditions of the brain - as it appeared in most chapters it bcame too repetitive. Overall it was an easy to understand read and I was able to skip aspects that didn't interest me. Where I've dropped stars is because I don't feel (as claimed) that the book showed me 'how to manage [my] time more efficiently, speed time up and slow it down at will, plan for the future with more accuracy and, ultimately, use the warping of time to [my] own advantage.' ( )
  SmithSJ01 | Aug 8, 2012 |
I don’t generally read a lot of non-fiction but the description for this book caught my attention, as I certainly feel I am ruled by time (rather than the other way round). Even on holiday, I am always checking my watch and I allow my feelings about what the time is to dictate what I do next. (I hadn’t really given this any thought before, but it seems a bit pathetic now that I have noticed!)

So, I thought, this is definitely the book for me! And yes, I found it fascinating! I loved the insights into our own psyche, and the understanding it gave me of why we behave the way we do around time. And I particularly enjoyed the stories about the experiences of various people who did extraordinary, and fascinating things as part of their researches into their perceptions of time.

This book gave me plenty to think about. Whether it affects my behaviours in the long term remains to be seen, but it has certainly given me a lot to think about in relation to how I can manage my time better. ( )
  hashford | May 20, 2012 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Drawing on recent scientific research, looks into the nature of time perception and offers insight into ways of managing time, planning for the future, and generally taking advantage of the quirks of time perception.

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