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You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Ou tsmart Yourself Hardcover – July 30, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for YOU ARE NOT SO SMART by David McRaney

"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. You’ll find new perspectives on your relationships with people you know, people you don’t, and even brands. 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 positively one of the smartest books to come by this year — no illusion there.”
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings

“Simply wonderful.  An engaging and useful guide to how our brilliant brains can go badly wrong.”
Richard Wiseman, bestselling author of 59 Seconds and Quirkology

“McRaney’s sweeping overview is like taking a Psych 101 class with a witty professor and zero homework.”
Psychology Today

“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

“Want to get smarter quickly? Read this book”
David Eagleman — neuroscientist and author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the

“A much-needed field guide to the limits of our so-called consciousness. McRaney presents a witty case for just how witless we all are.”
William Poundstone — bestselling author of Are you Smart Enough to Work at Googl

“Fascinating… After reading this book, you’ll never trust your brain again.”
Alex Boese — bestselling author of Elephants on Acid and Electric Sheep

“Deflating to a certain audience that wants to believe in exceptions, You Are Not So Smart is a tonic to the noxious sweetness of overachievement, an acknowledgment of ordinariness that glories in the quirks of being human without forcing them into a triumphant pyramid. That which cannot be overcome is a part as vital to the human experience as that impulse to try even harder to overcome nature. And if that fails, the flip side to a population crediting itself with falsely inflated powers of observation is that no one might notice if you, too, are not so smart.”
The Onion A.V. Club

“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, syndicated columnist, radio host and author of “Back to Our Future

About the Author

David McRaney is a journalist and self-described psychology nerd. He has written for several publications, including The Atlantic and Psychology Today. He lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; 1st Printing edition (July 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592408052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592408054
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Graves on July 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
As one who has always been fascinated by psychology, yet not formally educated in it (beyond a few college courses) and not inclined to read dry textbooks on the subject, this book is a treat. It blends the latest research in individual and social psychology with funny anecdotes and insights into why we behave the way we do. Don't be put off by the title if it seems a bit frivolous: this is a serious, thought-provoking book (though quite humorous and entertaining, as well).

This is more or less a continuation of the author's previous book, "You Are Not So Smart", but you need not feel compelled to read the former: you don't really need to know the themes and ideas of the first book to read this one. In essence, the book shows us how knowledge and understanding of our self-delusions can be used to help us become, well, 'less dumb'. Using recent discoveries and research into behavior to help us see that we are not the objective observers of our lives we believe ourselves to be, but, rather, delusional lemmings stuck on autopilot, the author gives us 17 examples of how we fool ourselves in life.

Each example is brilliantly written and fascinating, incorporating science, funny anecdotes and trivia. But don't get the idea that this is just a whimsical 'pop psychology' book; this is a serious study of our irrational unconscious selves, yet presented in a highly entertaining way (much like how Richard Feynman could make quantum physics accessible and understandable to the average person, as Carl Sagan did with cosmology - complicated science explained in an engaging manner).

The author's central theme is that scientific method has saved - and continues to save - mankind from it's delusional dumbness.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The good: I enjoyed reading this book. McRaney has a light, breezy style.

The bad: the book was so poorly edited that until the acknowledgements, I speculated that it hadn't been edited at all. For example, neither McRaney nor his editors has mastered the elicit/illicit and elusive/illusive distinctions, among other minor errors of syntax. McRaney's explanation of the Scotsman's Fallacy was unfocused, and his explanation of circular reasoning (petitio principii) was confusing.

The main reason I dinged two stars off this book, however, was McRaney's mini-biography of Freud, which was so poorly written that I initially thought it was a joke and kept hunting for the punch line. Now I keep wondering: what ELSE about this book should I find untrustworthy?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As much as I love McRaney, I was a bit disappointed to see that this is a re-edited version of "You're not so smart". As brilliant and informative as it is, I would rather not have spent the money as I already had the first book.
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Format: Hardcover
This promised to be "a course in behavioral psychology taught by a fun, clever professor… and zero homework!" (Eye-roll). It was that, I suppose, but the psychological experiments, reactions, and explanations weren't satisfying to me on the whole. They were interesting and made you think, but either it seemed obvious people would react a certain way, or what they did seemed weird and I was pretty sure I wouldn't react that way.
BUT… the author goes on to point out we rationalize and reinvent and think we're better than we are… so maybe I'm fooling myself that I'd choose more logical behaviors in an experiment or in life. Depressing thought.
He belittles the idea that anything bad that happens to us has an outcome for our greater good, saying all people have the capacity and inclination to make themselves believe that. It diminishes meaningful experiences to think I'm just naively making connections that aren't there. He goes on to say we externalize that theory to suppose some being or force is watching out for us. In the end he says we're resilient, etc., but it seems like backpeddling for the disses. It's not *that* negative, but it didn't leave me feeling enlightened… maybe a little less dumb and at the same time a little more dumb.
Also, I'm guessing the "conquer mob mentality, buy happiness, outsmart yourself" subhead was tacked on by an editor or publisher, because there's really no actionable advice to be found.
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Format: Paperback
In order to help potential readers/buyers of their purchase decision, I am obliged to copy and paste the Misconceptions M and Truths T of all chapters for your consideration.

M: You are being of logic and reason.
T: You are a being capable of logic and reason who falls short of that ideal in predictable ways.

Narrative Bias
M: You make sense of life through rational contemplation.
T: You make sense of life through narrative.

The Common Belief Fallacy
M: The larger the consensus, the more likely it is correct.
T: A belief is not more likely to be accurate just because many people share it.

The Benjamin Franklin Effect
M: You do nice things for the people you like and bad things to the people you hate.
T: You grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate people you harm.

The Post Hoc Fallacy
M: You notice when effect doesn’t follow cause.
T: You find it especially difficult to believe a sequence of events means nothing.

The Halo Effect
M: You objectively appraise the individual attributes of other people.
T: You judge specific qualities of others based on your global evaluation of their character and appearance.

Ego Depletion
M: Willpower is just a metaphor.
T: Willpower is a finite resource.

The Misattribution of Arousal
M: You always know why you feel the way you feel.
T: You can experience emotion states without knowing why, even if you believe you can pinpoint the source.

The Illusion of External Agency
M: You always know when you are making the best of things.
T: You often incorrectly give credit to outside forces for providing your optimism.
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