strange behaviors

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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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The Science of Smiling

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 24, 2009


Smiling Lindbergh before transatlantic flight

Smiling Lindbergh before transatlantic flight. The sign says: "KEEP OUT of the water" Credit: H. A. Erickson (Smithsonian Institution)

Human facial expressions are one of my recurring interests, and the other day I ran across an interview I did with the NPR show “Here and Now” about what we mean when we smile.  Click here to take a listen.

And here’s an excerpt from an article on smiling I wrote for Smithsonian Magazine:

Smiles can communicate feelings as different as love or contempt, pride or submission, flirtatiousness or polite tolerance.  A smile can be deeply comforting and reassuring.  (Babies smile a few weeks after birth, and it helps keep new parents from going completely out of their minds.)  Or it can induce a chill of fear.  (Hannibal Lector smiled when he thought about fava beans and a nice little Chianti—with liver.)  A smile can keep customers happy, as businesses often remind their employees.  But it can also send a customer–or the adamantly smiling employee–into a spit-flinging rage.    In truth, despite the common phrase, there is no such thing as a simple smile.



One Response to “The Science of Smiling”

  1. […] The author credits me at one point, and also flatters me, and I guess she thinks that’s sufficient.  Here’s the problem:  She doesn’t let on–with primitives devices like the quotation mark–that I happen to have written at least the first five paragraphs, or roughly half the article, word for word.  You will find the originals starting here and also here. […]

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