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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 – 4 Oct 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 157 customer reviews

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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
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851689397
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689392
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"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 Reddit.com

‘populist [and] witty’ Evening Standard

Review

"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)

Want to get smarter quickly? Read this book

(David Eagleman - neuroscientist and author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain)

"Simply wonderful. An engaging and useful guide to how our brilliant brains can go badly wrong."

(Richard Wiseman - bestselling author of :59 Seconds)

A much-needed field guide to the limits of our so-called consciousness. McRaney presents a witty case for just how witless we all are.

(William Poundstone)

"Fascinating... After reading this book, you'll never trust your brain again."

(Alex Boese - bestselling author of Elephants on Acid and Electric Sheep)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you've ever been frustrated when debating a friend who has opinions that seem batsh#t crazy to you, read this book. It helps to understand why they think the way they do. But also think how it applies to yourself - increasing self-awareness can really help!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel that understanding our failings can make it easier to gently laugh at ourselves rather than beat ourselves up. This book sheds light on how our minds work, and can reassure its readers that we're not losing our minds - yet!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
McRaney is living proof that the best popularisers of scientific theory are not necessarily researchers themselves. His book is one of the best I have ever read! In 48 bite-size chapters he has managed to elucidate 48 important findings from the fields of Psychology.
‘Priming’ comes first – naturally! The idea is that subtle cues in the environment can affect the way we behave. In a fantastic study (p. 11), some subjects had to work with words related to ‘politeness’ – others with ones relating to ‘rudeness’. Later they were asked to see a researcher who was ‘busy’ talking to someone; the former interrupted him after 8.7 min, the latter after only 5.4! (Moral: The school environment and decoration should be full of cues relating to diligence and cooperation; priming does work! [Check out: YouTube: Psychology and ELT – Priming])
‘Procrastination’: In another experiment (p. 45) subjects were asked to choose movies that they would have to watch at some point in the future; most chose at least some serious ones. In another condition however, subjects had to choose movies to watch that very evening; guess what – they went for films of the ‘Legally Blonde’ type... (Moral: We tend to put off doing the things we have to do. To ensure students do not do this, get them to commit well in advance!)
‘The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy’: In a study that all educators should read (p. 234), some teachers were told that certain kids in their class had performed outstandingly in IQ tests (of course this was a lie – the children had been chosen at random). Sure enough, these kids did exceptionally well at H/W, as the teachers lavished more attention to them. (Moral: Expectations often bring about their own fulfilment; alas, this does not only work for students we think are geniuses...
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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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Format: Paperback
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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