How and why do rumors start? How powerful are they? How many of them are accurate? Nicholas DiFonzo answers some of these questions in The Watercooler Effect, a psychological study on rumors. I learned some things. For instance, rumors in the military are generally 99% accurate, because people are actually told things about troop movements and the effect “trickles down”. People create rumors when they are anxious about their situation because having an answer, even if it’s wildly wrong, is comforting to the human mind. Worst of all are email and internet rumors, as they are almost always wrong, so much so that groups of websites like snopes.com exist just to decry them.
Rumors can also have disastrous effects on businesses and people’s lives. DiFonzo uses some of these examples, too.
This book was definitely interesting. It isn’t something that I would necessarily have picked up on my own, but it kept my attention. DiFonzo’s writing is clear and concise. Most of what he gets across is common sense that takes some thinking about, so there is no grand reveal at the end, just some advice on how to avoid spreading the wrong rumors. I probably wouldn’t jump to recommend it and I probably won’t read it again, but I’m glad I did. Preorder this book on Amazon.