Everyone knows that boys are
better than girls at math, that spicy foods upset the
stomach while milk is soothing, and that lemmings drown
themselves en masse. Likewise, we all believe that
strange things happen during a full moon, that people
become more conservative as they get older, and that
stomach cramps will sink a swimmer who goes in the water
too soon after eating.
The only trouble with all
this common knowledge is that it's wrong. Rarely, in
fact, do we bother to question what "everyone knows,"
let alone check whether common beliefs are supported by
good research. But Alfie Kohn has systematically
investigated how much wisdom there is in folk wisdom:
From a research plane
high over Wisconsin comes proof that two snowflakes
can indeed be alike.
From dozens of
psychologists comes word that birds of a feather
flock together a lot more often than opposites
From a laboratory in
Ireland comes a brand-new report suggesting that
your mother may have been right when she told you to
stop cracking your knuckles.
declassified government documents comes disturbing
evidence that the United States didn't need to drop
atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the
Japanese were already about to surrender.
In all, Kohn offers a
careful look at about eighty popular assumptions and
ends up debunking a good deal of conventional wisdom. In
the process, he offers a model of healthy skepticism and
provides some valuable analytical tools for evaluating
the things we hear. You Know What They Say... is witty
and well-researched, packed with surprising facts that
readers will soon be quoting to their friends.
mingling his own observations with experts’ findings,
Kohn refutes dozens of commonplace proverbs pertaining
to human behavior, nature, health, and world history . .
. . The author’s crisp prose and agile wit keep pedantry
to entertain as well as set the record straight.”
You Know What They Say..., alas, is officially out of print. However,
Alfie Kohn has a limited number of his own copies available. If you are interested
in obtaining one, please leave us a message at the e-mail address listed for
questions & comments on the
Contact Us page.