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135 Reviews
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm deluded, but better for knowing it
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...
Published on 3 Jan. 2013 by M. D. Holley

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never judge a book by it's Amazon 'Look Inside' preview
This book is full of interesting facts and studies. A lot of them are fascinating even. A big thank you to the author for compiling them all in this volume - it's provided lots of avenues for further reading. Unfortunately, they are rarely expanded on here and the author's insistence on fitting them into his 'you are not so smart' mantra starts to become rather...
Published on 22 May 2013 by elephvant


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really brilliant, informative, suprising read!, 14 Mar. 2013
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I saw this book in the airport book shop and thought, I'm getting it for the flight, but don't get me wrong, it was the front cover and the colours that attracted me haha.
This book was well worth getting. I'm an 18yo girl who studied psychology at college, so some of the studies in the book are familiar, but McRaney really puts the studies into perspective and also relates them to real life situations. This book has prompted so many interesting conversations with family members about human behaviour, and I would recommend it to anyone. A really great read!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but best taken in small doses, 13 April 2013
By 
J. Marriage (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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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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3.0 out of 5 stars Limited by including a lot of material in many short chapters, 21 Sept. 2014
By 
Anne (Sheffield, Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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The author writes a series of short chapters telling you why what you think you know about yourself may be wrong. A lot of this has been revealed elsewhere in more depth but it is interesting reading. By the end of the book you won't be at all sure what you know or why you know it !

The problem with the book is in its unique selling point. By having lots of short chapters each of which deal with one aspect of the mind and memory none of them can be very long. This means that the author hasn't got room for much in the way of shading and delivers quite blunt statements backed up with some scientific studies. This makes it an interesting read and one to dip into but if you are engaged by one of the things he discusses you will probably need to do some more solid reading about it elsewhere.

The author also doesn't have the opportunity to tell you about how you might deal with the issues he raises or how you might overcome them in your daily life. This means that if you read this book in large chunks you will become a bit bemused about yourself and your perceptions.

Worth a read as long as you realise the limitations of the style - I also don't appreciate being told I am not smart (it might be true but that doesn't make it more palatable from someone I have never met).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 15 Jan. 2013
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First, I should point out that I am a third year psychology student so do have background knowledge of the material.

I found this book interesting and read it quite quickly, however it is the type of book that can be read a chapter or so every so often. The book was explained well for the most part, and sometimes humorously. I came across a lot of information that I haven't come across during my degree. However, I only gave the book 4 stars as there were lot of chapters in which I did have background knowledge and found that important studies where not included that could have added to explanations. Also, some concepts were backed up with selective evidence as whilst reading I was aware of emperically sound evidence that contradicts the authors stance on matters.

All in all this is an interesting book that I would recommend to anyone, with or without background knowledge of psychology, who is interested in how the mind works and how we fool ourselves.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I ended up liking this book, 22 Mar. 2013
By 
Dr. Peter Davies (Halifax, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 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)
This is a challenging book,and I almost did not like it because of the author's tone. I then realised it was classic dry American, and started to enjoy his wry observations.

The book is a series of short chapters each introducing a key concept in cognitive psychology or behavioural Thinking, Fast and Slow economics. It's a well ploughed furrow these days, and many other Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error: The Meaning of Error in an Age of Certainty useful Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average books have been written ont his theme, and I think we are better for knowing about our cognitive limitationsWilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, and so having some ability to adapt for them, and maybe a bit more tolerance for the flaws of others and maybe a bit of realisation that we may be equally annoying and flawed.

The weakest chapter in the book was the one on the Dunning-Kruger effect. otherwise each chapter is sound and a good introduction to its topic. The source works are fully referenced.

After reading this you will be a bit smarter than when you started. Or at least a little bit better at camoflaging your cognitive flaws.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and enjoyable, 3 Jan. 2013
By 
Tim Kevan (Braunton, Devon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 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)
I read this book in one sitting and enjoyed the points which were being made. However, I guess I did start flicking through some of the pages as it went on with study after study. I think if you were just reading a blog post a day you'd be able to take in so many studies over time but not so with the book unless you treated it as something to dip into from time to time in much the same way. Still, it's an enjoyable read and some interesting points well made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Should be compulsory reading, 31 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: 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)
A superbly informative and entertaining book that can genuinely help change the way you think about how you and others think. The author has an engaging, enthusiastic style that completely bears out his point that we respond to a narrative style. What also impresses is that he has clearly done a huge amount of research in order to back up his points with evidence.

The book is divided into chapters covering specific subjects in enough detail and without padding. This makes it very readable and the concepts stay with you.

What particularly chimed with me was that my wife and I once nearly caught a pickpocket. In my memory, I was the hero of the hour. In her memory, she was the one that dived in to save the day. And we are both convinced we are right. Having read the book I now understand why I can't be sure anymore! Now I just have to convince her why she can't be sure!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining popular science, 18 April 2013
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This is popular science - racy and entertainingly written and hard to put down. By the end, I was wondering whether it is possible to make any judgements at all about the world and my place in it. But of course, the author points out very early that we try to make a connected narrative of anything we encounter, and it is just possible that that is what he has done here, simplifying the available data and ignoring the question of differing abilities, personalities and so forth. Worth reading, though. A timely reminder that I am not quite always right.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - relates results from psychology experiments to everyday behaviour, 27 Nov. 2012
This review is from: 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)
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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the author is not so clever..., 20 July 2013
This review is from: 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)
The book's introduction contains an "intelligence test" which shows the right at the beginning limitations of this book. There is a deck of cards that have single numbers on one side and single colors on the other. You are given 4 cards by an experimenter showing 3, 8, red, and brown. You are told "I have a deck full of these strange cards, and there is one rule at play. If a card has an even number on one side, then it must be red on the opposite side. Now, which card or cards must you flip to prove I'm telling the truth?"

The "solution" of the test, as presented in the book (I cannot believe that it is presented correctly), is clearly wrong as in no way you can prove that the statement is "true" by looking at only a subset of card in the deck. You can only prove that it is false if you find that that 8 has green on the back, or there is an even number on the flip side of the brown card. To show the "truth", which must be about the whole deck of cards, you would need considerable more evidence! This is the basic principle of falsifiability. Easy to disprove all swans are white, as you need one black. You would need to see the "swan universe" to prove that it is true.

The correct answer is that you cannot prove the truth by flipping any of the cards... Like with science you could fail to disproof the statement, so the "theory" would survive another day!
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