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You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, an d 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself [Kindle Edition]

David McRaney
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.71
You Save: $6.29 (39%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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I Know You Think You Know It All
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Book Description

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.



Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 500 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1592407366
  • Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (October 27, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052RE5MU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,850 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
321 of 341 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, entertaining and useful November 15, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm a clinical psychologist interested in neuroscience, so much of this material was already familiar to me. Most of the ideas can be found scattered through other books like The Winner's Curse, The Happiness Hypothesis, Predictably Irrational, and others. I've read and admired all of those. I would gladly throw them all away if I could keep You are Not So Smart.

The author understands the science and the facts, and conveys them quite clearly. I didn't find a single error. He writes wonderfully. Crisp, clear, funny, casual, but not too casual. When I read it, I feel I'm chatting with a brilliant buddy. As I understand it, the author is not a professor or scientist. He's certainly smart enough to be one.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, research psychologists generally believed that humans are more or less rational, most of the time. They believed that irrational thinking was caused primarily by disruptive emotions like anger or fear. We now know this is just plain wrong. During the last twenty years or so, research evidence against this view accumulated. Daniel Kahneman became the first psychologist to earn a Nobel Prize for describing the new understanding.

Meanwhile, evolutionary psychology provided a new template for understanding the human mind. It evolved. We often see faces in clouds, but never see clouds in faces. We sometimes mistake a coiled garden hose or rope for a snake, but rarely mistake a snake for a garden hose. These tendencies, and many others like it, reflect our evolutionary history. The reproductive cost of jumping away from a coiled garden hose is very small. The reproductive cost of failing to recognize a dangerous snake is very high.

You do not think rationally, nor does anyone else.
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122 of 132 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This is a good book. It's easy to read and can be read in small bite-sized chunks or in several long sessions. There are 48 different cognitive biases, shortcuts, and logical fallacies described in the book. They each take about 5 pages or so. Within each section the author does an excellent job of describing each problem. He references several studies for each and is generally very up-to-date on the latest work.

As an introduction or description to the ways we are irrational this book works very well. I consider myself pretty widely read in this area and still I found some new ideas or studies in this work. I would think that someone new to the topic would be utterly fascinated by it. While this book is well written as narrative it also would server as an excellent reference because of the many short chapters.

The only thing that I think would have made the book better would have been to put more effort into highlighting how you can avoid the biases. Certainly being aware of them helps and this book goes a long way toward that goal. The author does make some small suggestions at the very end of many chapters but they seem like an afterthought. But that is my only real criticism.

If you are interested in the ways that we aren't "the rational animal" this book is easily recommended. It is quite well done. For people new to the subject I can very highly recommend it as an introduction to the topic.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars accessible but maybe too much so October 17, 2012
Format:Hardcover
McRaney is attempting to show us all that behind the thin veneer of our civilized brain, lurks an animal brain that is far more whimsical and powerful than we give it credit for, than our logical brain often does little more than make excuses for behavior it can't predict or control. He does so by examining a variety of behaviors from cold reading to brand loyalty to racism. He conducts his examination be compiling peer reviewed articles from psychology and medical literature.

I give McRaney credit for making the material accessible but I can't say the same about making it interesting. It's incredibly, painfully obvious that the book is little more than a collection of blog posts; the short chapters don't quite run two pages while long ones clock in around ten. Additionally, I feel like the concepts he covers are already in the public eye, available for more complete examination and occasional satire. Finally the author does nothing with the information. No tips for catching yourself in a behavior are suggested, it seems he simply acknowledges the behaviors with an indifferent shrug. I could accept this if McRaney was doing some amount of original work or thought but that's not the case.

The way I most often described this book as I read it was "It's not bad, it's not good, but it's not bad."

ADDENDUM: I later read Thinking, Fast and Slowand recommend that as a far superior book on similar material.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is one that you will breeze through quickly, and after nearly every page, want to tell every single person you know what you have learned. The citations of numerous psychology studies that really reveal an enormous amount about the way we think, why we think, and how we think, are illuminating, and I feel just a wee bit smarter by reading this book. In fact, I sincerely believe the world would be a much more incredible place if everyone in it read this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very educational
This is like a compendium of modern psychology. So if you don't have time to read individual authors, this is really good. Read more
Published 1 hour ago by Sergei G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Soberingly inspirational
I found this book both inspirational and depressing. It's a little sobering to learn how the mind actually works, but comforting to know that EVERYONE's brain works like that. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Scott Novis
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Gyan for the real you.
Just Started reading this. Finished 2 chapter, Its a keeper. David writes as if he just sitting across the table and the stuff makes sense. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Hemant Chauhan
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed
I enjoyed McRaney's straightforward style and peppery expressions. But in an eagerness to overturn many of our preconceptions, McRaney forces the facts to fit his premise. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Raul Ramos
5.0 out of 5 stars Or at least I think I like it, but perhaps that is just my conscious...
Or at least I think I like it, but perhaps that is just my conscious mind creating a narrative to make me feel better about liking it.
Published 1 month ago by Robert K DeLisle
4.0 out of 5 stars Is good
I was expecting a little more of it, is good but not perfect the ideas on this book
Published 1 month ago by kikealtamirano
4.0 out of 5 stars A concise and interesting book on 48 theories/concepts in the...
I read quite a lot of book about behavioural science to sharpen my investment/trading edge. So, the theories/concepts in it are by no means new to me. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ServantofGod
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A MUST READ!
Published 1 month ago by Tinykpoet
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
GREAT BOOK !
Published 1 month ago by lily
2.0 out of 5 stars Cut the attitude, please.
This guys is all about showing off how brilliant he is. The writing is rather annoying. It's the attitude that got me.
Published 1 month ago by colleen m. subasic
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More About the Author

David McRaney is a journalist who loves psychology, technology and the internet.

Before going to college, he tried waiting tables, working construction, selling leather coats, building and installing electrical control panels, and owning pet stores.

As a journalist, McRaney cut his teeth covering Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and in the Pine Belt for several newspapers. Since then he has been a beat reporter, an editor, a photographer and everything in between.

He is now employed as director of new media for a broadcast television company where he also produced a television show focusing on the music of the Deep South.

He is married to Amanda McRaney and they live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

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