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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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Good book, could have better narrator

Struggled to finish the book because the narrator was monotone. Good content though and good book.

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GREAT BOOK AND NARRATOR

This is one of my favorite books. The author describes the experiments in enough detail to give you a good feel for the setting. The explanations aren't stuffy. Humor is interjected when appropriate and not in a way to add fluff to the book. The narrator is great. I own the audio and written versions.

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  • Michael
  • Encino, CA, United States
  • 03-08-16

Eye opening

I normally dislike self help books but this book is no ordinary every day self help book.
This book doesn't tell you how wonderful you are but instead how bias you are.
Truly eye-opening

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  • Grace
  • Atlanta, Georgia United States
  • 03-05-16

Fascinating to learn the blindspots & assumptions

We are all aware of things we know we don't know (like I know I don't know how to build a dam) but this book looks at the things we thought we knew, and why we thought we knew it, as well as why we are wrong and what the truth is. As a person who has always sought to learn, some of the concepts were review but many were new to me and they made sense. That is not to say that I did not invest some time in excepting myself from the delusion only to accept the reality after all. The information is delivered in a way geared to avoid being offensive rather than informative.

I liked that the topics were broken up since it made it easier to find a good stopping place when I had to put the story down for another priority.

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Started out pretty funny, got tedious

In the beginning the examples were better because he talked about logical flaws. Later the examples were more about observational flaws, and seemed more for little kids.

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Fun informative book

First book pick, wanted something light, fun and informative. Got what I wanted. Learned a few new things...

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Interesting story hidden in minutia.

Sporadic humor and intersting anecdotes mixed in with too many irrelevant details. Hard to stay focused.

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Writes about critical thinking but lacks it

I feel torn about this book.

Opinion 1:

Every living organism with a human brain needs to read this book. If we were all more aware of our heuristics, it would be a win for the human race. There is scarcely a more important subject for the masses to digest and understand. It would certainly help us communicate with one another in more effective ways. I loved examining at all of my faulty wiring. This book is especially great for people capable of self-reflection. I always think of the adage, the brain is the most outstanding organ in the world.... according to the brain. It is really fun to think about how flawed every single brain is, regardless of how educated a brain can be.

Opinion 2
I feel shock, utter shock, that someone who wrote an entire book about critical thinking is often, too often, not capable of critical thought. Some of the studies McRaney included were incredible. Some were not. Regardless of the study's methods, McRaney seemed wholly unaware of the potential problems with various studies (are you measuring what you think you are measuring, are the methods of the study sound, etc). He failed to even raise a red flag for David Buss' studies that look at current behaviors and very probably create just so stories about evolution. Zimbardo was one of the most unethical researchers and his methods were extremely flawed, which make his findings flawed. Yet, McRaney seems captivated by both Buss and Zimbardo; so much so, that he cannot even include a few words of caution. I do not know what to say about that, except it makes me sad. I loved his book so much, but his failure to understand the many heuristics that aided people like Buss, Zimbardo, and others to reach their conclusions really affected the credibility of his book. It is absolutely necessary to include these heuristics in a book about heuristics.

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Mind-bending...wonderful book!

Really enjoyed this...learned SO much about myself and everyone else. Everyone should listen to this one. Excellent narration.

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eye opening

a very in-depth look at how the mind works and very much an affirmation of your day to day struggle