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You are Not So Smart [Kindle Edition]

David McRaney
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Kindle Edition, 10 April 2012 £6.40  
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Book Description

How many of your Facebook friends do you think you know? Would you help a stranger in need? Do you know why you’re so in love with your new smartphone? The truth is: you’re probably wrong. You are not so smart. In this international bestseller, award-winning journalist David McRaney examines the assorted ways we mislead ourselves every single day. A psychology course with all the boring bits taken out, prepare for a whirlwind tour of the latest research in the subject, fused with a healthy dose of humour and wit. You’ll discover just how irrational you really are, which delusions keep you sane, how to boost your productivity, and why you’ve never kept a New Year’s resolution.

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"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--Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything"

“Simply wonderful. An engaging and useful guide to how our brilliant brains can go badly wrong.” Professor Richard Wiseman – author of 59 Seconds

“Fascinating! You’ll never trust your brain again.” Alex Boese – author of Elephants on Acid and Electric Sheep

“A much-needed field guide to the limits of our so-called consciousness.” William Poundstone – author of Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?

“Want to get smarter? Read this book.”
David Eagleman – neuroscientist and author of Incognito

“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. Give yourself every advantage you can and read this book.”
Alexis Ohanian – co-founder of

‘populist [and] witty’ Evening Standard


"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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm deluded, but better for knowing it 3 Jan. 2013
By M. D. Holley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A refreshingly well written, clear and entertaining book, which wears its learning lightly.

By telling the story through 47 small bite sized chapters, each of which deals with a common area of our lives, the author manages to make serious science entertaining and humorous; an easy and light read. The author is also careful to keep on solid ground and not to make spurious or 'wacky' statements.

It really is shocking and very humbling to have to come to terms with how deluded we all are. Some of the chapters made uncomfortable reading for me personally, as I reluctantly had to admit that I myself am totally deluded in the way the author suggests.

But the realisation that we are personally deluded is an important one, and if everyone accepted this truth the world might become a better place with less dogmatism and less hatred. Maybe they should teach this stuff in junior school.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has made me even more boring 5 Feb. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The number of people I've "entertained" with facts and information from this book more than justifies its asking price. A great way to change the way you think about life, business and pretty much everything. The only thing that annoys is the way the author tries to squeeze "You are not so smart" into every darn point.
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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. T. White TOP 500 REVIEWER
Please ignore the fact that this book's title is suspiciously patronising, and instead try being open to the great wealth of possibilities this book offers as a compelling and most readable guide to the sheer irrationality of much human thinking. As you read each small yet satisfyingly complete chapter you'll find an error of rationality outlined, then the author uses facts and real life examples to show how you, too, are quite possibly not so dissimilar from your fellow humans, in at least some (but hopefully not all!) respects. For instance, in every great disaster, there will be people who appear to be stunned into just sitting in their seats (be it a plane crash, train derailment etc.) while others are screaming and running for the nearest escape route as soon as possible. Meanwhile, those who remain seated while being stunned into calm bewilderment, and yes, most extraordinarily this has happened time and time again in all kinds of major disasters - from the Titanic's sinking, to that fateful post millennial day in September... will invariably not live to tell the tale of what happened. Survivors later recount bizarre tales of how not everyone was panicking, as you might reasonably assume, and trying to escape as fast as possible. Instead, contrary to reason, those who remained in calm bewilderment were not only victims of fate but of what psychologists have come to term 'normalcy bias': The temporary but possibly fateful inability of reasoning whereby one judges extreme and potentially catastrophic situations, as being normal, while one's extreme state of confusion persists. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Born to make mistakes... 30 Aug. 2013
Having read this priceless and 'very' accessible book a number of times I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in self-delusion..or maybe those who know they are able to self deceive - because this is an essential step in the right direction which buying this book would suggest you have already taken. 'You Are Not So Smart' lists so many cognitive biases, fallacies, effects, heuristics and errors - 48 in total - it is a small wonder that anything we say or do isn't tinged or laced with "cobbled together narratives" and ill informed opinions out of our human propensity not to recognise the danger of mental stumbling blocks, the power of the adaptative unconscious and our animal brains!!

Without trying to describe any content it is noticeable that many of the more powerful topics are dealt with in clusters such as the priming of expections, confirmation/hindsight biases and self-serving but fulfilling narcissism that can blight and prop up our behaviours. Just for the record the aforementioned mental traps alone might account for a stack of self-development books, and then to add another 44 should give the reader an indication of the amount of condensing that had to be done to keep the book relatively brief and digestible.

However David McRaney presents a copious amount of phenomenonological research from the field of social psychology which would make a great introduction for anyone wanting to study for a psychology course in the subject -- however, has there yet to be a course for this kind of stuff ever invented? (see below).

I dare anyone not to read each chapter without a wry smile of recognition and amusement, especially as the style is deadly witty and irrevrently upbeat with the continual shocking mantra that "you are not so smart".
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars slightly ambiguous yet interesting 7 Oct. 2012
The good;
A mixture of 48 common and not so common beliefs proved wrong with the truth by case studies, reports and surveys etc. Some very intriguing and practical such as the truth behind procrastination and habit kicking written in short (2-5 page) chapters with an easy summary.

The bad;
Some chapters 'truths' are left far too ambiguous and with little real world application or practical advice

The conclusion;
A charming sunday afternoon/bath tub read which can make you think and may will have some practical uses
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very pleased with purchase. As described. Many thanks
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars may stimulate some fresh thoughts, but fairly low quality
slightly sketchy/old research sources
Published 2 months ago by Hector
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good
Published 2 months ago by Alexandru G M
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by Alphi1847
2.0 out of 5 stars I gave up.
I lost faith in this when the opening "puzzle" was presented with the wrong solution. Actually, it was A correct solution but not to the exact question asked in this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Colin Main
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not trust this review
Nobody would think it wise to let people loose in cars with no driving instruction and yet we use our brains (Far more powerful and dangerous than cars) every day without knowing... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Christian Cook
3.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed it could have had a lot more on what ...
enjoyed it could have had a lot more on what to do in reaction to the various psychological phenomenon.
patronizing but yeah love the phenomenon.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great fun facts and loads of context!
Published 6 months ago by A
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
Very efficient! Great Book !!!
Published 6 months ago by Malcolm Bacon
5.0 out of 5 stars It's true, you're not!
Great book, really interesting read which pours light on why we do certain things and act in certain ways. Made me look at life in a whole new way.
Published 6 months ago by Lee Cantu
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