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
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

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

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  13,049 ratings  ·  810 reviews
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, w...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published October 27th 2011 by Gotham (first published October 17th 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about You Are Not So Smart, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about You Are Not So Smart

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferI'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally CarterThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Books with Really Long Titles
18th out of 544 books — 173 voters
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond1984 by George OrwellA People's History of the United States by Howard ZinnFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Best Books To Frame Thinking
54th out of 407 books — 319 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Stephanie
Turns out everyone thinks they are somehow smarter than the people around them, everyone. We all are guilty of it. We walk into a Wal-mart, take a look around us and think “what a bunch of freaks, and always in Wal-mart” …..But we are also in Wal-mart as we make this judgment. I don’t go into that store unless they are the only option, but every time I look around and I think to myself “do I also look like a freak by just entering this store, then magically go back to normal when I leave?”

I once...more
Will
I like this book because it's told me that my memory is infallible, that I've made the right decision at every turn, and I'm a completely rational actor who can calmly ignore mental biases -- not like those poor deluded fools he keeps mentioning in his studies. Must be terrible being one of THOSE people.
Lara
like to think that I know just how advertisers are trying to sway my thoughts and opinions and gain my buying power. I also like to think that I am in complete control of such things as my thoughts, opinions, and buying power. But, evidently, I am not so smart.

I like the color red. I also like to think that I know exactly why I like the color red. But, David McRaney says that I am not so smart.

I like to think that I am a good person who would rush to the help of others in an emergency. I also li...more
Brendon Schrodinger
This great work boils down to: "Despite millions of years of evolution your brain is a jumbled mess of neurons that covers up it's downfalls by lying to you constantly. Here are just 46 ways your brain is being an asshole."

Just like Dawkins argues against a creator in showing that evolutionary adaptations can be flawed and seemingly badly designed, David McRaney shows in this work that despite those claims that the human mind is one of the most complex structures in the known universe, it's shod...more
David
Sep 11, 2014 David rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to David by: Brendon Schrodinger
Shelves: psychology
This is a fun, pop-psychology book that kept me interested from beginning to end. It is arranged into 48 chapters, each devoted to a different misconception that we are all subject to. Some of these misconceptions have technical names that will be unfamiliar to most people. For example, I never heard of "apophenia", which is the idea that coincidences are so miraculous, they must have meaning. The "truth" is that "Coincidences are a routine part of life, even the seemingly miraculous ones. Any m...more
Crystal Starr Light
Jan 29, 2013 Crystal Starr Light rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Crystal Starr Light by: Willowfaerie
We think we're really smart, that we are much better than the stupid people around us, but in reality, our brains take shortcuts to make situations easier for us to handle. This book divulges 48 ways that show we aren't really all that smart.

This isn't so much a full review as just my brief impressions. Which are, in one word: WOW! This book was incredible to read! I spent an entire 2+ hour flight reading this, unable to put it down and read my fiction books!

Some of these examples I had heard of...more
Megan
The way this book is written is SO condescending! Every chapter he says "You are not so smart!", but when it comes to himself I guess that doesn't apply? Why do I say this, you ask? Well chapter 2 is all about confabulation, (view spoiler), and he says that everybody does this so much and so oft...more
Kent
I love Radiolab. It is the best thing. Here are the episodes that you should listen to instead of reading this book:

Deception - http://www.radiolab.org/2008/mar/10/
Memory and Forgetting - http://www.radiolab.org/2007/jun/07/
Placebo - http://www.radiolab.org/2007/may/17/
Morality - http://www.radiolab.org/2007/aug/13/
Stress - http://www.radiolab.org/2007/apr/09/
Choice - http://www.radiolab.org/2008/nov/17/

Also the other ones. Mmmmm Radiolab.

The good thing about YANSS:WYHTMFOFWYMISFA46OWYDY, as I l...more
Alexander
If only books like these could be liquefied and piped into the water supply.

Fox News and MSNBC would self-destruct, and democracy might become something more than the "least-worst" option.

YOU ARE NOT SO SMART is antifreeze for your thinkbox.

Granted, there's nothing new here, but having forty-eight of the most fundamental brain-hacking principles of heuristics theory in one populist, user-friendly package, gives one hope that sanity, rationality, and most of all, humility, will occasionally prev...more
Amber Koppenhofer
Sometimes first impressions are the right ones. Below in italics is my original impression of the book after reading the intro:

I've just picked this book up from the library and have only read the introduction, written by the author, who briefly explained why we, as a society, are generally stupid, and how each of us has an internal dialogue that convinces we are much smarter than we are. So, I can't help but wonder what makes this guy think he's one of the rare truly intelligent humans beings w...more
Marilyn
I read this book in dribs and drabs, as each two to three page chapter covers one of the 46 ways people delude themselves -- and how we do it. Each chapter begins with a misconception, followed by the truth. For example:

THE MISCONCEPTION: You are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is.
THE TRUTH: You are as deluded as the rest of us, but that's OK; it keeps you sane.

The book goes on to show "how and why we are naturally hindered into thinking in certain ways and not others,...more
Terri Timonen
Readers Beware!!! NEVER believe a book that presents "all-or-nothing" concepts as absolute truth!! And that's exactly what David McRaney's book attempts to do. Each chapter identifies a "Misconception" and a "Truth" attempting to persuade the reader to believe "The Truth" as the author sees it...biased and supported with biased, shallow research. What the author fails to do is provide evidence to the contrary. He presents a very subjective, one-sided argument in favor of his beliefs on a variety...more
Nikki
I don't normally consider myself a reader of non-fiction. Okay, yeah, lit crit, and funny things like Damn You Autocorrect! I've even read some Dawkins and such. But I didn't expect this to be something I didn't want to put down. But it is: it made me think a lot about the way I behave, and showed me some of the hypocritical things we all do -- it made me laugh at myself, actually.

It's very easy to understand, but references real psychological experiments and has a reasonably extensive bibliogra...more
Sean M.
Someone once said, "It is far easier to entertain than it is to educate." What McRaney pulls off with shocking ease, in this book, is that rare combination of educational material that is extremely entertaining. What's the difference between this pop psychology book and most of the others out there? The others are relatively boring. The others speak in a professorial manner to prove expertise. McRaney cites studies to bring his points home, but he rarely belabors points. He also explains the com...more
Lucija Vojnovic
Written in a interesting form, with a lot of small chapters devoted to a theme. Themes often overlap. The style reminds that the book started as a blog and editing did not do much to shake off that feeling of reading a blog. For example there is no referencing between chapters, even when in one theme of the other is mentioned. Instead of referencing, author just repeats what is needed.
On the other hand, writing is very informal and some informations are incorrect. For example author incorrectly...more
Joyce
This book is a collection of 48 short chapters about common "wisdom" and beliefs. Do you think you always base your decisions and opinions on experience and facts, while others (who disagree with you) are falling for propaganda? Uh-oh. That would be the Third Person Effect: "Everyone believes the people they disagree with are gullible, and everyone thinks they are far less susceptible to persuasion than they truly are." That was #30, by which time I was a bit less enthralled by the book.

It's a c...more
bryan
This might be one of the most important books I've ever read.
Paige
2 or 2 1/2 stars. Why oh why do I get suckered into pop psychology again and again?

This book started out as a blog and maybe it should have stayed that way. It seems like great material for a blog and I've actually started following it in my RSS reader. But a published book? Not so much...

Mostly the delivery rubbed me the wrong way. My first thought about this book was, "Wow, so there really IS a reason English teachers tell you not to write in the second person--it is SUPER annoying." An articl...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
I always like a book that I know I'm going to be thinking about and spouting out facts from long after I close the book; You Are Not So Smart is definitely one of those books. The subject of the book is psychology based but McRaney writes in such a way that these ideas are accessible to everyone even if you don't have a degree in psychology. I found myself saying "Wow" a lot throughout the book.


I like to think of myself as a pretty rational person. I think most of us think that we're pretty rati...more
Jonathan Swartz
A lot of great insights into the foibles of human psychology in this book. Divided into 48 short (three to five page) chapters, perfect for short modern attention spans and BART commutes, though it was hard to read more than a few chapters at a time without glazing over. Research experiments are cited in every chapter.

Some favorite chapters:

* The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy - in which we draw patterns around random information. Helps explain how conspiracy theories come to light - surrounding eve...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
The basis of this immensely entertaining book is McRaney's blog (which is, unsurprisingly, immensely entertaining). A journalist who was inspired by an intro to psychology course, McRaney cogently explains the various ways we delude ourselves and act irrationally. Each essay opens with a 'Misconception' followed by 'The Truth', and then a thorough explanation. As a result, each chapter is a self-contained gem packed with nerdy trivia and fascinating science. They don't necessarily build off each...more
Cora Judd
This is science writ lightly - a fun and fascinating read. I'm having a hard time giving this the fifth star because I like to save that last star for books that shake up my world a little. But in the end I'm giving it up for McRaney. For the genre it's one of the best. You may agree with me if you take a perverse pleasure in seeing "common knowledge" sliced and diced with hard facts and data. It passes one of my personal tests of a good book: long after I finish, (days...months...) the writer's...more
Wendy
This book ought to be required reading for everyone in the English-speaking world, and particularly for teenagers, who need the help in sorting out the world. It confirmed some things I suspected and made me think about some things I hadn't before. I found it both bolstering and intimidating--it shored up some of my feelings on the world and humanity, but I definitely didn't feel so smart after finishing it!
Jamie
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 is a blog turned book that aims to explore many of the common biases and errors in decision-making that have made the field of behavioral economics so active in the last few decades. Author David McRaney confesses to not being a psychologist (hey, it happens) but he does a pretty darn good impersonation of throughout the book’s 48 chapters, each of which...more
Marjolein
Review You are not so Smart - David McRaney

You are not so smart explores our cognitive biases. Each chapter covers another mental fallacy. Although I have read quite a lot of similar books by now, I liked this one. McRaney has a clear, easy to follow style of presenting content. He connects everyday human behaviour with scientific studies in a very casual, enjoyable and entertaining way.

If you have read Lehrer, Kahneman, Taleb and/or Duhigg you are familiar with almost all ideas presented. Not s...more
Sheila
An intriguing and fun book to read. It can almost be considered a self-help book for businessmen instead of housewives. Oops, could that be my "fundamental attributions" playing a trick on me. I even thought he was writing about me when he talked about happiness for the moment. He used an example of eating ice cream, which I just happen to be doing when I read that chapter. Wierd. Then again, could I have been using the "Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy". After all there have been a lot of bear sighti...more
Larry
Back during the absurd era of my life called my college years, I took a psychology course. To complete the class, I was required to take part in experiments directed by graduate students. I made sure I picked the tasks that simply involved filling out questionnaires. I thought that would be easiest and fastest. Unfortunately, the questions were very long and very deep. It would take a lot of time to read through the moral dilemmas and think about them.

So, being efficient, I circled any old answe...more
Tanja Berg
This was an intersting, easy read. Some of the things were familiar, but when it comes to how you are deluding yourself, I suppose you can't face the truth often enough. We humans are irrational, illogical creatures that resort to all sort of biases and listen mostly to our gut. This book examplifies this in 48 different ways. The one thing that did get annoying was the the "you are not so smart" comment which was included in every chapter.
aljouharah altheeyb
سعيدة أن العنوان جذبني وجعلني أُحمل الكتاب لأسمعه *ــ*
مخك يلعب عليك وأنت ياغافل لك الله xD

--
نجي للجد، هذا الكتاب يعالج الكثير من الأفكار المسبقة الخاطئة التي نعتقدها ونمارسها بشكل يومي دون أن ننتبه إلى خطورتها على حكمنا وتأثيرها على حياتنا.
نوع الملابس ونفسيتك قد تؤثر في مشاعرك تجاه الأشخاص الجدد في حياتك.
كيف يقوم مخك بحذف وتعديل وتغيير ذاكرتك باستمرار ليحولها إلى سلسلة أحداث مرتبطة ومتواصله و “متوافقه” مع أفكارك هذه اللحظة.
كيف يؤثر نجاح الآخرين عليك وكيف يسبب ذلك الإكتئاب وعدم الإنتاجية بل...more
Kurt Pankau
Based on the blog of the same name, You Are Not So Smart hits the highlights of logical fallacies in an entertaining and engaging light. Every chapter is a reminder of how easily we can fool ourselves and each other. At turns revelatory and mind-blowing, this is a quick and thoroughly enjoyable read.

Unfortunately, it's more of an anthology than a treatise: it feels like--because it is--a collection of blog posts. It commits most of the sins that you get from an anthology. There is no unifying, c...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What is this about? 2 18 Aug 19, 2014 01:05PM  
Mrs. Meyer Bell 7: The Just-World Fallacy 2 4 May 13, 2013 05:01PM  
  • The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limits
  • The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
  • What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite
  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
  • The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain
  • The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us
  • Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
  • Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average
  • Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us
  • Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
  • This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking
  • Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World
  • A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives
  • Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious
  • Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions
  • The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
4945190
At his blog You Are Not So Smart—and in the book of the same title—David focuses on why humans are so "unaware of how unaware we are." His newest book, You Are Now Less Dumb, expands on these ideas of self-delusion and offers ways to overcome the brain's natural tendencies.
More about David McRaney...
You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself

Share This Book

“If you are thinking about buying a particular make of new car, you suddenly see people driving that car all over the roads. If you just ended a longtime relationship, every song you hear seems to be written about love. If you are having a baby, you start to see babies everywhere. Confirmation bias is seeing the world through a filter.” 45 likes
“You are a confabulatory creature by nature. You are always explaining to yourself the motivations for your actions and the causes to the effects in your life, and you make them up without realizing it when you don't know the answers. Over time, these explanations become your idea of who you are and your place in the world. They are your self... You are a story you tell yourself.” 34 likes
More quotes…