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 Del
By David McRaney
(Gotham, Hardcover, 9781592406593, 320pp.)
Publication Date: October 27, 2011
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.
Packed with interesting sidebars and quick guides on cognition and common fallacies, You Are Not So Smart is a fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge psychology research to turn our minds inside out.
A two-time winner of the William Randolph Hearst Award, journalist David McRaney writes the blog youarenotsosmart.com. A self-described psychology nerd, he lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
"Every chapter is a welcome reminder that you are not so smart-yet you're never made to feel dumb. You Are Not So Smart is a dose of psychology research served in tasty anecdotes that will make you better understand both yourself and the rest of us. It turns out we're much more irrational than most of us think, so give yourself every advantage you can and read this book."
--Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of Reddit.com
"You Are Not So Smart is the go-to blog for understanding why we all do silly things."
"You'd think from the title that it might be curmudgeonly; in fact, You Are Not So Smart is quite big-hearted."
--Jason Kottke, Kottke.org
"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