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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 [Hardcover]

David McRaney
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2011

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.


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Review

"Every chapter is a welcome reminder that you are not so smart-yet you're never made to feel dumb. You Are Not So Smart is a dose of psychology research served in tasty anecdotes that will make you better understand both yourself and the rest of us. It turns out we're much more irrational than most of us think, so give yourself every advantage you can and read this book."
(-Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of Reddit.com)

"You Are Not So Smart is the go-to blog for understanding why we all do silly things."
(-Lifehacker.com)

"You'd think from the title that it might be curmudgeonly; in fact, You Are Not So Smart is quite big-hearted."
(-Jason Kottke, Kottke.org)

"In an Idiocracy dominated by cable TV bobbleheads, government propagandists, and corporate spinmeisters, many of us know that mass ignorance is a huge problem. Now, thanks to David McRaney's mind-blowing book, we can finally see the scientific roots of that problem. Anybody still self-aware enough to wonder why society now worships willful stupidity should read this book." -David Sirota, author of Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now

About the Author

A two-time winner of the William Randolph Hearst Award, journalist David McRaney writes the blog youarenotsosmart.com. A self-described psychology nerd, he lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great May 28 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Everybody should read this book. The language is clear and the content is relevant. The book lives up to its promise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... Feb. 7 2012
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read Dec 1 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent john book. Divided up into short chapters which detail different types of fallacious thinking, it is best absorbed one gulp at a time. The book lost steam a little for me as I progressed. Some chapters are full of interesting research and experimental evidence, others are less grippingly reliant on rather old stuff (really, the marshmallow test again?) The wonderful thing about the contents of the book, as the author warns you, is that there are so many fallacies in our thinking that the scope is too overwhelming to foster any improvement/change. So I have a whole bunch of new knowledge but I don't have to do anything about it.

The only people who wouldn't enjoy it are the illiterate or people already very highly educated in the field. It's clearly written and easily absorbed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a smart man, but this is a smart book. Dec 23 2013
Format:Paperback
I devoured this book. I recommend it to anyone who likes psychology. Most of the segments are great, procrastination and the spotlight effect comes to mind! Plenty of studies back up the author's claim. It's great!
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