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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 | [David McRaney]

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

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2011 David McRaney (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

"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)

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  •  
    Sarah Dumoulin Kinburn, Ontario Canada 07-19-12
    Sarah Dumoulin Kinburn, Ontario Canada 07-19-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Covers a lot of old territory"

    While this book makes for a breezy listen, a lot of what is contained within will be old news to many readers. If you know what a straw man argument and an ad hominem attack are, have read too many descriptions of the marshmallow experiment and the Standford prison experiment and are just plain tired of Milgram this book is probably not for you. While there were certainly many sections that contained information that I was previously unaware of the amount of the content that I already knew ruined this for me.

    This book comes from the author of a blog of the same name, and it shows. The chapters read like blog posts, tending to lack depth, and the flow between chapters is choppy at times. However, it's an easy read, and a good introductory look at some of work that has been done in psychology in the past century.

    54 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher San Diego, CA, United States 07-04-12
    Christopher San Diego, CA, United States 07-04-12 Member Since 2010
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    "It's official, I'm an idiot"

    I think it's safe to say that I found myself park in my car, sitting with the door ajar, still listening to this book more than any other book I've listened to. The format is very simple and it's conveyed in such a way that laypeople like me can feel smart for understanding it's complexity. [cute play on words huh?]

    It's an amazing book of self deprecation, of laughing at yourself as you drive because you do the exact same thing the book is describing, word for word and you did it just this morning and you thought you were so clever when you did it. The man who reads it does a superb job and is just as effective as hooking you as the book itself.

    It's also a real and serious help if you at all interested in working on yourself in a way that isn't something touchy feely and an even better way to understand and gain empathy about all of us and why we do the stupid s**t we do.

    You can listen to this book in the same way you watch "How do They Make That" documentaries on the Science Channel and get some great information out of it and/or as a book that can help you identify deeper thought issues you might have.

    23 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LeSLiE Hillsborough, NC, United States 08-02-12
    LeSLiE Hillsborough, NC, United States 08-02-12 Member Since 2007

    QUESTION : DOES LISTENING TO AUDIO BOOKS MAKE YOU SMARTER? If so, I'm. Freakin Genius!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Yes, I Get It. I'm Dumb. Good Book Though."

    I loved this book. I found the presentation of facts interesting and amusing. The author has a kind of tongue -in -cheek sense of humor (which I love). He uses this wit to convey an enormous amount of very useful information, all the while proving his point, that yes indeed I'm not that smart.

    I enjoyed this book as much if not more than "The Power Of Habit". Both of these books were well worth the credits.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone St Laurent, Quebec, Canada 08-14-12
    Simone St Laurent, Quebec, Canada 08-14-12 Member Since 2006

    Join me on GoodReads too!

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    "Hopefully I am a LITTLE smarter now!"

    This is an audiobook I wish I owned in book form.

    There are so many interesting snippets of information that I would like to go back and read again, so a table of contents would be immensely helpful!! It’s a very fun and intriguing book, full of “common sense” yet it makes you stop and reflect on your own behaviours and why you act the way you act and do the things you do. Lots of “nod your head in agreement” moments.

    The set up is very simple to follow and it’s an easy and fast read – naturally, given that it’s a book about the psychology of human behaviour so they KNOW what format is going to work!

    Learning about Priming, Confirmation Bias and Ad Hominem Fallacy to name a few, I saw a lot of myself in here and you will too! I laughed out loud at the chapter that explains why my books-to-read list (and the kind of books on it) is so long! But to my previous point: I don’t have a table of contents available so I can’t tell you what it’s called!!

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 08-23-12
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 08-23-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Should Be Required Reading Before Voting"

    It doesn't hurt to be humbled occasionally. As we listen to those confident so called experts who confirm our political biases during an election cycle, knowing the information from this book could help us take a step backwards and reevaluate.

    I recommended this to my daughter and we had a great discussion about how people can be manipulated and how difficult it is to really have an open mind on some of the topics we supposedly have solved and take for granted.

    I may not ultimately have budged from some of my biases, but my conceit about being right has taken a blow and that is a good thing.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Omar USA 12-21-12
    Omar USA 12-21-12 Member Since 2011

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” - Albert Einstein

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great"

    To find a book that points out how bugged is your cognitive system without really annoying you is always a great find. Well written and very well presented.
    However, if you are already familiar with some cognitive biases, heuristics and fallacies you will find some chapters "old news"... that is how exhaustive it is!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niall bremerton, WA, United States 01-04-12
    Niall bremerton, WA, United States 01-04-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fast and to the Point!"
    Would you listen to You Are Not So Smart again? Why?

    I am listening to again right now so I can take notes and impress/annoy my friends with my new-found knowledge


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Uhh.. wrong genre


    What about Don Hagen’s performance did you like?

    Was fine


    If you could give You Are Not So Smart a new subtitle, what would it be?

    The title is really poor- I would have called


    Any additional comments?

    One of my new favorite books! This was one of those rare times where I have ten books to read but as soon as I finished this one I had to put every other book on hold just so I could read this one a second time. The book is a long list of thinking errors that most or arguably all people use unconsciously. If you read these kinds of books a lot you will spot a lot of familiar studies and there is a lot borrowed from the book “How we Decide” but everything is explained in terms simple enough for a ten year old to understand. Long stories are shortened to a sentence or two and the overall tone of the book is very fun and fast. No more long drawn out life stories just to tell the brain damage story at the end- this book is dense with fun information that you can apply right away to your own life. One of the major themes of the book is that we tend to make decisions about things first and then come up with reasons to justify it- and the reasons are mostly garbage. First the movie is bad- then we might make up something about the director or unclear motivations but really that is all stuff we make up to justify the initial “confirmation bias” and the examples of this are stunning. Highly recommended for all ages and experience levels.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joao Coelho REDMOND, WA, United States 12-16-12
    Joao Coelho REDMOND, WA, United States 12-16-12 Listener Since 2004

    Factor Jota

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great summary of years of research"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is filled with great information about how we humans work based on many different researches throughout the world and the years. Some topics are covered by other books in greater depth, but I found that here you have just the right amount of explanation to understand what's going on and with a bit of humour to add to it.If you read other books on Human behavior and how the brain works, some info here may be repeated, but if not, I highly recommend you listen to this and you'll be surprised at how we deceive ourselves in so many different fronts.The only thing I wish there was is a PDF with a summary of the 46 chapters (maybe just the chapter name, even). It would greatly help remembering everything we learned.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Leatham Mesa, AZ 04-02-12
    D. Leatham Mesa, AZ 04-02-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable, but needs more concrete recommendations"
    Would you recommend You Are Not So Smart to your friends? Why or why not?

    This book describes the working of the mind (as discovered through research) in a fun and entertaining way. I like how the author broke it down into 46 distinct mental processes that the normal person might not understand is going on in his/her own mind, some of which can lead us into some strange and unproductive behaviors.

    My only criticism is that the bits of real-world application that the author provides at the end of each process/chapter could be expounded upon with some more concrete actions to take to ensure you don't fall victim to your own mental processes.


    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 01-01-14
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 01-01-14 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ". . . but you'll sound smarter!"

    If I'd followed some of the arguments in David McRaney's "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" (2011) I wouldn't be writing this (or any other) review, because the very act of trying to explain it would change the way I feel about it; and how can someone really understand someone else's feelings? And how do you describe the color red, anyway?

    This book is marketed alternately as sociology and social sciences (Audible), cognitive psychology (Google Books), humanism (Amazon) and humor (Barnes & Noble). "You Are Not So Smart" is a collection of concepts from all of these disciplines, with brief explanations and anecdotes describing the theories.

    Some of McRaney's observations are tried and true, like the lessons from Yale University Professor Stanley Milgram's 1961-1963 experiments on 'Obedience to Authority'. (Which raised a question: it's been 50 years - maybe American moral and social conditions have changed, and analogous experiments would have different results?). Other theories McRaney sets forth are not as widely discussed as they should be, such as "The Ad Hominem Fallacy" Ch. 17 - if you don't like the messenger, the message isn't valid. "The Just-World Fallacy" Ch. 16, is another. Sure, it would be nice if the world were fair - but sometimes, good people fail and bad people get ahead. "The Spotlight Effect" Ch. 29 was especially helpful - you may feel everyone can read your mind and know how nervous you are in a social situation, but no one is really psychic.

    Other concepts are valid, but McRaney makes them seem as if they are the only answer to a complex problem. "The Normalcy Bias" Ch. 7 is an example. That's the concept when people faced with a dangerous situation, like Hurricane Katrina, pretend - or believe - the situation isn't going to be that bad. That's an explanation for why people don't prepare and take shelter, but it's not the only one: other factors, such as many previous false alarms and a lack of effective communications, among other things, contribute to a deadly problem.

    "You Are Not So Smart" is an easy, general introduction to psychology and social sciences. Listen, and you can carry on at least a superficial conversation about 46 different topics.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
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  • Wicked
    England
    12/13/12
    Overall
    "I loved this book"

    At least I think I did!

    This book makes you question everything you think and even how you think. Presented in a very entertaining way, it uses research and evidence to back up and explain every point brilliantly. The narration was wickedly dry and humourous. It will challenge and some people might find that too difficult but if you allow yourself to look at your own behaviour with the knowledge from this book, you might just laugh at what you see. Fantastic listen, highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alex
    MILTON KEYNES, United Kingdom
    2/2/12
    Overall
    "Disappointing read"

    The title and synopsis sounded so interesting, but the further I got through it, the more I resent having lost hours of listening to this book.

    Initially the book's premise is interesting, however the further you progress the more you realise that there's a good reason that people in general don't notice these subtle flaws in human nature -- because its easier to progress through life not beleiving you are as selfish, egocentric and predictable as everyone else.

    Sadly Don Hagen's narration is monotonous and uninspiring as the book. My main critism is that the author glosses over good nature and avoids giving recommendations to become better people - which seems like a missed opportunity in such a negative book.

    My advice: Go read a cheerful book full of escapism and good nature instead. You might be less enlightened, but you'll feel better for it.

    7 of 14 people found this review helpful
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