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You are Not So Smart: Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself [Paperback]

David McRaney
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

4 Oct 2012

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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You are Not So Smart: Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself + You Can Beat Your Brain: How to Turn Your Enemies Into Friends, How to Make Better Decisions, and Other Ways to Be Less Dumb: 1
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1851689397
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689392
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but best taken in small doses 13 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A useful compilation of "pop psychology" and "pop neurology" - nothing I hadn't seen before in other books and TV programmes, but clearly if somewhat repetitively presented. It is more for dipping into than reading straight off, so put it somewhere for sampling. Its origin as a series of short pieces is apparent. McRaney is careful to reference his sources, which I liked - so many writers skip that when writing for a wide audience. The "translation" from American into British English is rather odd. Money has been converted into £, and some company names (used as examples) have been converted to their UK equivalents - but not all, and it still feels very US-centric.
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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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56 of 61 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent. I bought this on spec after glancing at it in an airport bookshop and was glad that I took the trouble to read it. It refers to a lot of experiments relating to psychology - much to my surprise I found this subject matter really interesting, even if one or two of the results were already familiar. If you think that psychology in nothing but all that early 20th C Freud-Jung psychotherapy guff, this is a good book to set you straight.

It is very fragmented in its structure, but that does make it easy to dip in to.
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great return on your investment 26 Mar 2013
This is one of those books you will read and then ask yourself one or both of the following question:
i) Why have I not read this before now? Why has no-one recommended this to me?
ii) Why hasn't everyone read this book?

I really cannot heap praise on this book enough, for it checks the boxes for so many of the factors that make a text great. It is well-researched, based on empirical data, it is witty and slick, smooth to read. It has a flawless balance between anecdote and hard facts. It is well written, yet neither panders nor speaks down to the reader, and finally, it is packed and filled cover-to-cover with the most amazing facts and insights that will occupy your mental space day and night when you are in the process of reading it.

it is a rare book that you can pick up at the airport or train-station and find as enjoying to read as a trashy novel yet simultaneously realise that you are actually learning something and actually getting a return on your meagre investment.

I read this at the same time as a colleague (who I recommended it to) and we enjoyed countless discussions on the contents; sharing our thoughts and insights. I can only imagine what fun you could have with this if you read it for a book-club or a reading-circle. The conversations would never stop!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable and funny. I think McRaney primed me somehow!
A highly readable book. It is very funny and it communicates about cognitive biases and our psychological foibles in a really interesting and stylish way. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Alex Quigley
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative
The author starts each chapter with a statement that should be self-evident then proceeds to prove it wrong. He backs up his ideas with examples from psychological research. Read more
Published 10 days ago by GeordieReader
2.0 out of 5 stars Why this guy?
The book is ok, it might even be fun but why ask someone who doesn't understand what he's reading to do the audio book? This was for listening to in the car. Read more
Published 21 days ago by A. Horsfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Brilliant. Great communicator
Published 26 days ago by MR A F B Nash
3.0 out of 5 stars Limited by including a lot of material in many short chapters
The author writes a series of short chapters telling you why what you think you know about yourself may be wrong. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Anne
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Fair - patronising though - can't stand it for long.
Published 1 month ago by Roy from Alti
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent service from an excellent Amazon seller.
Published 1 month ago by Alan Dick
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Takes 48 everyday assumptions, such as believing your opinions are the result of objective analysis, or thinking you know when you are lying to yourself, or thinking you work... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Maha Upasika Gotami
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
Great read, I thoroughly recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by James Wood
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, similar to New Scientist books
Very entertaining, can be read in small chunks. I would recommend this to people who like the 'Why Elephants feet don't Freeze' series of New Scientist books, as this book is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Zed
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