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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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Carl
  • West Palm Beach, FL, United States
  • 09-17-13

Boy I'm I an idiot but I sure loved the book

I've read books like this before but written by the scientists or researchers. David McRaney however is a journalist and therefore makes conveys the information faster, in a more entertaining manner, and in a way that is easier to absorb. In other words he doesn't go on and on detailing experiments, their shortcomings, and so on. He also often talks in the language on a common man, cuss words and all, which drive home the points and makes them easy to relate to. Great fun but sometimes a bit depressing to know how dumb I am. Of course there is the famous saying that goes... "The more I know, the more I know I don't know". Loved it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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If you've read Gladwell or Lehrer, skip this one.

The tone is smug, the analysis superficial, and the research the book references is all retread material from Lehrer, Gladwell and Ariely. McRaney brings absolutely nothing new to the table; not even the insights he gleans from the research is new. McRaney appears to have read the same books we have, and then just rewrapped the material in a smug package. No, thanks.

Stick with the real thing and pass on this; I wish I had.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Now I know how smart I ain't....

I really enjoyed this book. Each chapter discusses some condition, brain quirk or tendency we all share, and makes us all, "Not So Smart". There's a new show on National Geographic Channel that touches on many of the same topics you can find in this book. If your interested in such things, or just want a book to point out that you aren't nearly as smart as you think you are, (and who doesn't love that), this is definitely worth the read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gail
  • jackson, NJ, United States
  • 03-18-13

Not What I Expected

Read like a list of hypotheses, that I had no interest in ... or any reason to be. I kept hoping for the "list" to stop, so that the author would provide me with a reason to find any of it layperson compelling.. I couldn't make it through this one. I'm sure,however, a textbook read like this will be of value to some. The title and packaging drew me in (brilliant marketing), but was left yawning.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • dean
  • TEMPE, AZ, United States
  • 03-15-13

User's Manual for Your Brain

What did you love best about You Are Not So Smart?

It has such interesting insights into why we do what we do, which is often different from what is popular belief. Every idea is backed up by an experimental study which has results that are counter-intuitive, or at least interesting. Highly recommend this one!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not good

What would have made You Are Not So Smart better?

A different narrator. Don Hagan almost put me to sleep with his lackluster voice. As far as the content, I found some of the information enlightening. But after about 45 minutes of listening, I couldn't go any further and will not finish the audiobook. It was a waste of my money. Sorry...

Would you recommend You Are Not So Smart to your friends? Why or why not?

No

How could the performance have been better?

Dick Hill would have been much better!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nancy
  • Waterloo, ON, Canada
  • 12-27-12

Overview of several psychological effects

I enjoyed listening to this book. It was fun hearing about the many ways our memories fail us and the studies that support these findings. There were 40+ different psychological effects. Each started with a misconception about how we perceive our memories and the world, followed by the reality. Then the author went into detail about the scientific studies and findings. I liked this format of organization, although in some examples I was hoping for more detail.

One small organizational suggestion would be to group similar effects into categories. I'm having a hard time recalling all 40+ effects, although I can recall the general scope of the book. I think categories would have made the information easier to record and recall.

Overall, it was a fun listen! The narrator sounded familiar even though I don't think I've listened to him before. It was well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Martin
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 10-12-12

Highly informative, well writand very entertaining

I loved this book. McRaney has covered some very useful areas of recent research on the brain and how it can make "us" feel like we are in control, when in fact we are highly pre-disposed to certain kinds of behavior and thought processes. It is often very amusing and certainly never dull. I find myself often referring to it in conversations because it provides so many good illustrations of the way in which our perception/thinking is flawed and/or foretold by our evolutionary development. I can't wait for his next book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Work

A book that summarizes a great deal of recent research into how we think. It points out the shortcuts our brain takes in perception and memory.

The examples it gives do make you question yourself and some of your own actions... but that is a good thing (right??).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Diane
  • United States
  • 07-23-12

Contradictory in tone

This book is presented as a serious journalistic approach to an aspect of the human psyche, specifically the way in which people tend to delude themselves. Points are well explained and the author frequently cites scientific studies to back his claims. But he also uses teenage slang expressions (something "sucks", is a "bummer") and gratuitous profanity (which Audible.com will not allow me to quote) that is incongruous with the general tone of the book. At best, this is distracting for the listener. At worst, it leads me to have doubts about the author's credibility. In sum, a credit could have been better used on a different book.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful