All About the Invidious Irritants That Irk Individuals

From The New York Times:

Book If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s somebody kicking the back of my chair. That, and the public clipping of fingernails. And loud gum chewing. Oh yes, and the neighbors’ muffled stereo, and people who are habitually late, and there are actually 20 or 30 other little problems I have with the world at large. But now on to you.

You get every bit as annoyed as I do by car alarms that never stop, fingernails screeching down blackboards, and a fly buzzing around your head. The prolonged whining of a child, your own or somebody else’s, drives you crazy. In other words, some annoyances are particular to the individual, some are universal to the species, and some, like the fly, appear to torture all mammals. If ever there was a subject for scientists to pursue for clues to why we are who we are, this is the one. And yet, as Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman make clear in their immensely entertaining survey, there are still more questions than answers in both the study of what annoys people and the closely related discipline of what makes people annoying.

More here.