Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “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” as Want to Read:
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
Open Preview

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

by
3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  19,551 Ratings  ·  1,209 Reviews
An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise.

Whether you’re deciding which smart phone to purchase or which politician to believe, you think you are a rational being whose every decision is based on cool, detached logic, but here’s the truth: You are not so smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us--but that’s okay, because being delude
...more
Audiobook
Published December 5th 2011 by Your Coach Digital (first published October 1st 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.

Popular Answered Questions

Catwalker I haven't read this book yet, either, although it is likely that I will. Going by the title, it is likely that David McRaney will be tackling the…moreI haven't read this book yet, either, although it is likely that I will. Going by the title, it is likely that David McRaney will be tackling the problem of heuristics, along with things like your brain as a virtual reality machine, confirmation bias, confabulation, how cognitive dissonance affects our thinking and conclusions, etc. Going by the write-up, however: "like a psychology course with the boring parts removed,' keep in mind that the boring parts of any course are usually the bits you need to know to thoroughly understand the interesting parts. If you want to dig further into how people think, you can try Daniel Kahneman's book 'Thinking Fast and Slow' and/or Daniel Levitin's book 'The Organized Mind.' They cover the boring bits in a not-so-boring way.
By the way, nothing wrong with heuristics in the right place. Without them, we likely wouldn't be here. But psychology books should be talking about heuristic biases and thinking errors, not exemplifying them! (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Stephanie
Jun 07, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
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
Dec 18, 2012 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Khadidja
Apr 01, 2016 Khadidja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We have endless internal dialogues that assist with interpretation of information and decision-making based on what we know , feel , and think it's right but the truth is we are alldelusional ... somehow ! All of us think we’re smarter than everyone else , just like we believe that we’re better looking, funnier, moreattractiveandmore likeable and more generally competent than everyone else. Of course we’re not , we are naturally hindered into thinking in certain ways and not others, and the worl ...more
David
Sep 11, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Terri Timonen
Dec 09, 2012 Terri Timonen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lara
Dec 30, 2011 Lara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Crystal Starr Light
Jan 29, 2013 Crystal Starr Light rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Alexander
Dec 02, 2011 Alexander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zeitgeist, mind-games
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
Sean M.
Dec 25, 2014 Sean M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nikki
Dec 02, 2011 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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
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
aljouharah altheeyb
Feb 02, 2014 aljouharah altheeyb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
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
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
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
Joyce
Sep 16, 2012 Joyce rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
♥ Ibrahim ♥
The title is misleading; I don't know whether to smile or be annoyed with the author for taking us for such a lovely ride. He thinks he is "so smart", and indeed, he is so because he chose a catchy phrase like this to sell his book. The truth of the matter is, the book has nothing to do with who is smart or who is an idiot. The book simply talks about how our brains work, why we sometimes do some things the way we do and are at our wits' end trying to figure out what's happening; and this is wha ...more
Cora Judd
May 24, 2012 Cora Judd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ammara Abid
Funky cover & a Catchy title is enough to compel anyone to read this book. It is an interesting read, not so good not so bad either, comprising of 48 chapters each having a new topic related to human psychology with so many examples of reported cases from the past.
Bryan
Aug 25, 2014 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
This might be one of the most important books I've ever read.
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
Mar 29, 2013 Jonathan Swartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Youghourta
Jul 29, 2016 Youghourta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
يعتقد الجميع (أو على الأقل أغلب النّاس) بأنهم يتّخذون قراراتهم بشكل منطقي مدروس، ويكوّنون آراءهم ومُعتقداتهم بشكل أقرب ما يكون إلى حل معادلات رياضية لا دخل للعاطفة أو أية جوانب نفسية فيها.
هذا الكتاب سيأخذك في جولة من 48 فصل يُعالج كل منها مُغالطة منطقية، أو فكرة خاطئة شائعة حول الكثير من الأمور التي تحكم طريقة تفكيرنا ونظرِنا إلى الأمور بشكل عام (أو على الأقل التأثير فيها).

لتوضيح المقصود بـ "المغالطة المنطقية"* هنا، يكفي أن نقارن الأمر بالمُعادلات الرياضية. في بعض الحالات ولدى حل معادلة رياضية،
...more
Wendy
Jun 27, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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!
Kristin
Aug 08, 2015 Kristin rated it liked it
A Malcolm-Gladwell-esque work of pop-fiction that mines the work of psychology and neurology to find amusing, and often alarming, ways in which we are all not so smart. To my relief, McRaney kept things on the lighter side for the most part, not jumping to any extreme "you therefore have no free will" conclusions. After all, we need to remind ourselves that the act of reading or writing a book about self-delusion requires us to somehow be outside of delusion (or at least, those particular delusi ...more
Vonia
This awesome read evidences basic theories to a lot more complicated, the obvious to those you never would believe until you read the data.... but the difference being that the writer backs that up with really good data and/or studies. Some of the "theories"/"ways" you already know like the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, normalcy bias, the Dunning-Kruger effect, brand loyalty, the ad hominem fallacy, groupthink, hindsight bias, The anchoring affect, the illusion of transparency, Cognitive Bias, The ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limits
  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
  • The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life
  • Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America
  • The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us
  • The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka,  Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
  • Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World
  • Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything
  • Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us
  • What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite
  • Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious
  • The Ego Trick: In Search Of The Self
  • The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain
  • Everything is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
  • Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone - Especially Ourselves
  • The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
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...

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.” 63 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.” 59 likes
More quotes…