The scientist in me wants to understand what other people are talking about. Let's say I am curious.
Once in a while I hear the expression "jumping the shark." What the heck does that mean?
With an Internet search engine ready to do my bidding, I quickly found the answer. "Jumping the shark" comes from an old American television series, Happy Days. I used to watch that.
In one episode, The Fonz went water skiing and jumped over a shark that showed up.
A year or more later a few individuals started describing far-fetched events put in fading TV shows as jumping the shark.
The use makes no sense, because Happy Days was extremely popular for years after the shark jumping.
People have generalised the phrase to mean any attempt to save a failing endeavour with a far-fetched activity.
For instance, to jazz up my column, suppose I told you about anti-natalism, the view that it is wrong to have children.
Oops, I did once write about anti-natalism. But not because I am fading fast.
Another expression that once puzzled me is "the pompatus of love."
That is a lyric sung by Steve Miller in the popular song The Joker. I read later that Miller said the word means "whatever you want it to mean."
The term led to a movie called The Pompatus of Love and to use of the word by various writers.
When I want to make a nothing comment, I say: "Ah, the pompatus of love."
If pompatus ever makes it into a dictionary I would define it as a synonym for "power". At least it would mean something then.
Curiosity is part of the essence of science. Einstein said: "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."
I study curiosity. Another psychologist and I have an article under review about various ways researchers have tried to increase curiosity in others, even if only momentarily.
Piquing curiosity in others is important for teachers and marketers.
One of the methods that worked well in the studies involves creating a mystery.
You can feel that pressure when you get gripped by a novel you are reading.
Another method of increasing curiosity involves offering a new experience, such as advanced virtual reality.
People find VR highly appealing.
Last night, I started up Mount Everest in VR. I am curious about what will happen. My motto: Summit or die trying.
What makes you curious?
John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.