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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 152 customer reviews

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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 (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a fun read and it is that...but it is also more than that it gives me further evidence which Is useful for me in terms of how I work as a therapist with clients (to bring positive change) on how the human mind works and how memories of events can be so easily distorted.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book on a whim - and I am glad I did!
Once you get past what seems to be a patronising title, it is fascinating. It explains a lot about how humans think - you can easily identify with almost everything within the book. I found it interesting and it made me think. Whilst most books relate to research in an academic way, this author brings it down to a more digestible level, which makes you think and, to be honest, I identified traits that myself and people I know have. I have read this twice now.
We really are not as individual as we think we are!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 infuriating. First chapters are probably the best and are why I bought it. Should have judged it by its cover.
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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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