You Are Not So Smart

Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself

McRaney, David

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
You Are Not So Smart
An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise. You believe you are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is, but journalist David McRaney is here to tell you that you're as deluded as the rest of us. But that's OK- delusions keep us sane. You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self-delusion. It's like a psychology class, with all the boring parts taken out, and with no homework. Based on the popular blog of the same name, You Are Not So Smart collects more than 46 of the lies we tell ourselves everyday, including: Dunbar's Number - Humans evolved to live in bands of roughly 150 individuals, the brain cannot handle more than that number. If you have more than 150 Facebook friends, they are surely not all real friends. Hindsight bias - When we learn something new, we reassure ourselves that we knew it all along. Confirmation bias - Our brains resist new ideas, instead paying attention only to findings that reinforce our preconceived notions. Brand loyalty - We reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it. Packed with interesting sidebars and quick guides on cognition and common fallacies, You Are Not So Smart is a fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge psychology research to turn our minds inside out.

Publisher: New York : Gotham Books/Penguin Group, c2011.
ISBN: 1592406599
Characteristics: xvi, 302 p. ;,20 cm.


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Jul 03, 2014
  • modestgoddess rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very very interesting. I learned a lot about not just myself, but also people in general. Some of the time I found I actually *am* so smart (eg, I couldn't care less what a bottle of wine costs - I just want to like the taste myself) - other times I thought, "Whoa - who knew that?! Better watch out for that!" (eg Extinction Bursts - what a wonderful phrase :o) Definitely heightened my awareness of what's behind some human behaviours. Liked this so much, I'm going to buy it for my personal library.

May 12, 2014

"The award-winning creator of the blog by the same name presents a lighthearted tour of the self-deluding belief systems that cause people to feel undue confidence in their intelligence, explaining how delusions are part of a complex psychological defense system while identifying dozens of common misconceptions in such areas as caffeine withdrawal, hindsight and brand loyalty." Popular Culture May 2014 newsletter

Jan 29, 2014
  • JewelMcLatchy rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

You will find yourself agreeing in parts, disagreeing in others, and then you will come to the stark realization that no, you really are not so smart after all, but it's ok because neither is anyone else. Do not mistake this for a quick and easy read just because the title is humorous. A lot of thought and research went into this book and while it does read like an intro to psychology primer, it is worth taking the time to re-read certain passages to make sure the meaning has fully sunk in. Agree with the comment below that says it would be worth purchasing a personal copy. Will (hopefully) make you question your decision-making process, your perceptions, and force you to become smarter than you are, which honestly shouldn't be too complicated because, afterall, you are not so smart!

Jul 11, 2013
  • brendancarlson rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

It's so good, it's actually worth purchasing and using for future reference.

Mar 20, 2013
  • kleinkid7 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Short sections on a variety of topics make this a very approachable way to learn about human psychology. Some very eye opening and humbling stuff in this book. Reading this book, and the author's blog with the same name, I quickly discovered that I am not so smart.

Jul 05, 2012
  • dgr rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The temptation to call this book "You're Actually Quite Stupid" must have been great.

This is a good book that effectively teaches cynicism and paranoia but not in a bad way.

David McRaney seems quite intelligent but does seem to ignore some great minds, like Jung, when he practically dismisses synchronicity. Sure, there are lots of nuts out there (I'm probably one of them) but "psychology" didn't create the universe and shouldn't be called on to explain phenomena outside it's scope.

This is good reading and he has the courage to justify the "going postal" syndrome by taking the blame entirely off the perpetrator and putting some of it on society/"the environment" where it no doubt belongs.

Jun 13, 2012
  • Poisonivy rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Basically like a psychology course without all the boring bits.

Jun 10, 2012
  • Smilepuppies rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

changed the way I viewed the way I see things...

Apr 01, 2012
  • boonerator rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a great book, the format and sources make it worth a purchase. And it gives a name to something I do all the time which is wrong. "The Fundamental Attribution Error" in short: "look at that bozo, he stumbled over that rock." But when I stumble over the rock "Who put that rock there, what's it doing there!"

Feb 07, 2012
  • ksoles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Journalist and social media director David McRaney has bad news for those of us who think we’re smart: we confirm our own biases by reading copacetic newspapers and websites, we believe phony, horoscope-style niceties about ourselves and, even though we think ourselves moral, we stray just as often as the guy next to us.

"You Are Not So Smart" provides a tour of some of the major findings in the field of psychology aimed at pointing out the self-delusions most of us harbour but don't notice. McRaney divides the book into 47 short, easy-to-read and engaging chapters in which he proves that, even in a state of deep introspection, humans "miss many influences, accumulating on [our] persona[e], like barnacles on the side of a ship.”

Despite a couple of duds, McRaney succeeds at keeping his reader's attention throughout a book that could easily have become boring half way through. He adopts a friendly, casual style, much like Neil Pasricha in "The Book of Awesome" but provides well-researched, intelligent evidence to support his claims. But one question remains unanswered: how do we combat natural human tendency and actually become "smarter"?

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