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You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself [Hardcover]

David McRaney


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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously interesting psychology - yet very entertaining 30 July 2013
By D. Graves - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As one who has always been fascinated by psychology, yet not formally educated in it (beyond a few college courses) and not inclined to read dry textbooks on the subject, this book is a treat. It blends the latest research in individual and social psychology with funny anecdotes and insights into why we behave the way we do. Don't be put off by the title if it seems a bit frivolous: this is a serious, thought-provoking book (though quite humorous and entertaining, as well).

This is more or less a continuation of the author's previous book, "You Are Not So Smart", but you need not feel compelled to read the former: you don't really need to know the themes and ideas of the first book to read this one. In essence, the book shows us how knowledge and understanding of our self-delusions can be used to help us become, well, 'less dumb'. Using recent discoveries and research into behavior to help us see that we are not the objective observers of our lives we believe ourselves to be, but, rather, delusional lemmings stuck on autopilot, the author gives us 17 examples of how we fool ourselves in life.

Each example is brilliantly written and fascinating, incorporating science, funny anecdotes and trivia. But don't get the idea that this is just a whimsical 'pop psychology' book; this is a serious study of our irrational unconscious selves, yet presented in a highly entertaining way (much like how Richard Feynman could make quantum physics accessible and understandable to the average person, as Carl Sagan did with cosmology - complicated science explained in an engaging manner).

The author's central theme is that scientific method has saved - and continues to save - mankind from it's delusional dumbness. While you may deny that had you lived a few centuries ago you would have believed geese grew on trees, don't be so sure. In the example of 'Popular Belief', we learn that even today, myths and popular delusions abound: people in Korea - including highly-educated people - "know" that electric fans cause death, invisibly: If you leave a fan on when you leave the house, all of your pets will be dead when you return. But, not to worry, science will eventually save the Koreans from this delusion:

"When you believe in something, you rarely seek out evidence to the contrary to see how it matches up with your assumptions. That's the source of urban legends, folklore, superstitions, and all the rest. Skepticism is not your strong suit. In the background, while you crochet and golf and browse cat videos, people using science are fighting against your stupidity."

Thank God.

You will definitely be enlightened as to the nature of your own existence and the society you inhabit; it's that good of a book. Highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, BUT 24 May 2014
By Mary W. Matthews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The good: I enjoyed reading this book. McRaney has a light, breezy style.

The bad: the book was so poorly edited that until the acknowledgements, I speculated that it hadn't been edited at all. For example, neither McRaney nor his editors has mastered the elicit/illicit and elusive/illusive distinctions, among other minor errors of syntax. McRaney's explanation of the Scotsman's Fallacy was unfocused, and his explanation of circular reasoning (petitio principii) was confusing.

The main reason I dinged two stars off this book, however, was McRaney's mini-biography of Freud, which was so poorly written that I initially thought it was a joke and kept hunting for the punch line. Now I keep wondering: what ELSE about this book should I find untrustworthy?
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy it if you read "You're not so smart" 17 Mar 2014
By Diogo Freire - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As much as I love McRaney, I was a bit disappointed to see that this is a re-edited version of "You're not so smart". As brilliant and informative as it is, I would rather not have spent the money as I already had the first book.
36 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what the title says, but still interesting 29 Sep 2013
By Peter Koziar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book spends a lot of time saying how you're deceived, and almost no time saying how to deal with it, how to find the truth. Also, he falls prey to his own biases, especially an anti-religious bent, where plenty of examples instead abound other places (Piltdown man, anyone?). As far as he's concerned, science never gets anything wrong, but religion never gets anything right.

I think the best part of the book was the section on the "Narrative Fallacy," which helped me understand why I've been investing (sometimes unsuccessfully) the way I have been.

The worst part was probably the section on the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, which was very disorganized, and I think he got it completely wrong. The fallacy isn't about people violating the principles of the group and getting chastised (justly) for it, but, rather, someone who acts in a way that isn't considered typical for the group. For instance, "No true NRA member would campaign for bans on rifles" is not this fallacy, but saying "No true NRA member would vote democratic" would be.

The ending of the book was also a little odd. It just kind of stopped. The last chapter didn't tie things up or reach any conclusions, just dealt with another fallacy like all the rest, then it was done.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dummies for Dummies 16 Mar 2014
By Pandora Spox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This promised to be "a course in behavioral psychology taught by a fun, clever professor… and zero homework!" (Eye-roll). It was that, I suppose, but the psychological experiments, reactions, and explanations weren't satisfying to me on the whole. They were interesting and made you think, but either it seemed obvious people would react a certain way, or what they did seemed weird and I was pretty sure I wouldn't react that way.
BUT… the author goes on to point out we rationalize and reinvent and think we're better than we are… so maybe I'm fooling myself that I'd choose more logical behaviors in an experiment or in life. Depressing thought.
He belittles the idea that anything bad that happens to us has an outcome for our greater good, saying all people have the capacity and inclination to make themselves believe that. It diminishes meaningful experiences to think I'm just naively making connections that aren't there. He goes on to say we externalize that theory to suppose some being or force is watching out for us. In the end he says we're resilient, etc., but it seems like backpeddling for the disses. It's not *that* negative, but it didn't leave me feeling enlightened… maybe a little less dumb and at the same time a little more dumb.
Also, I'm guessing the "conquer mob mentality, buy happiness, outsmart yourself" subhead was tacked on by an editor or publisher, because there's really no actionable advice to be found.
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