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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
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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

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  33,418 ratings  ·  2,031 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
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published October 27th 2011 by Gotham Books (first published October 1st 2011)
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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 prob…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)

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Start your review of 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
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I love Radiolab. It is the best thing. Here are the episodes that you should listen to instead of reading this book:

Deception -
Memory and Forgetting -
Placebo -
Morality -
Stress -
Choice -

Also the other ones. Mmmmm Radiolab.

The good thing about YANSS:WYHTMFOFWYMISFA46OWYDY, as I l
Terri Timonen
Nov 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
B Schrodinger
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, science
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
Clumsy Storyteller
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 all delusional ... somehow ! All of us think we’re smarter than everyone else , just like we believe that we’re better looking, funnier, more attractive and more 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 ...more
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to David by: B 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
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
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Crystal Starr Light
Jan 19, 2013 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
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book immensely and I found that I could identify many of my own flaws laid bare in these pages. Mr McRaney explains how we have been hardwired to act in certain ways ever since we swung down from the trees and elaborates on how these vestigial impulses and instincts affect how we act and think today. Want to know why you overeat or why you procrastinate? It's all right here.

I think the book is very well organized. McRaney touches on so many topics pertaining to our thoughts and ac
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quick, informal view of cognitive biases, behaviors, & other glitches that keep us from being the rational beings we believe we are. Each chapter is brief explanation of what brain glitch is being covered. I knew most of them, but found even those chapters interesting as he gives very good examples. It's interesting how & why many of these evolved plus how they're playing out in modern society. Many are used to trick us by advertising, political candidates, & others. Many of these are necessar ...more
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
Oct 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Nada Majdy
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Highly recommended.
Sean M.
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Written in a light and humorous tone, You Are Not So Smart is a nice introduction to several different areas of psychology. Never diving too deep into the science, each chapter gives examples and case studies into why we behave and think the way we do. If you are new to psychology, or looking for a light read on the subject, this is a good place to start.
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
"In the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell

This is a book about logical fallacies and critical thinking. Essentially, humans think they're pretty smart. But in fact, we easily mislead ourselves into thinking we have a greater grasp of our reality than we actually do.

Some parts were a bit repetitive and could have been combined with other chapters of a very similar nature; other parts reinforced studies I've come across in other book
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Charlie Miller
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliantly informed collection of key findings in psychology- written with the express intention to systematically tear down your delusions of sophistication. Each chapter addresses a diifferent phenomenon, such as 'the affect heuristic'. It's the kind of information you may have come across parts of elsewhere, like in a TED talk on Youtube perhaps, but having so much of it all in one place all structured around a straightforward aim is very handy.

The person who designed the book cov
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
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
Dec 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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,
Jon Swartz
Mar 29, 2013 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
Atila Iamarino
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Já li alguns livros sobre o tema "como nossa mente nos engana", como os do Dan Ariely, mas achei este o melhor. Não tem como não gostar de um livro de teoria da mente que cita Terry Pratchett:

Be careful. People like to be told what they already know. Remember that. They get uncomfortable when you tell them new things. New things . . . well, new things aren’t what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don’t want to know that man bites a dog, b
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 ea ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
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
Cora Judd
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
♥ 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
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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

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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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“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.” 86 likes
“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.” 82 likes
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