You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself

Front Cover
Penguin, Oct 27, 2011 - Humor - 320 pages
28 Reviews
An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise.

You believe you are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is, but journalist David McRaney is here to tell you that you're as deluded as the rest of us. But that's OK- delusions keep us sane. You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self-delusion. It's like a psychology class, with all the boring parts taken out, and with no homework.

Based on the popular blog of the same name, You Are Not So Smart collects more than 46 of the lies we tell ourselves everyday, including:

  • Dunbar's Number - Humans evolved to live in bands of roughly 150 individuals, the brain cannot handle more than that number. If you have more than 150 Facebook friends, they are surely not all real friends.
  • Hindsight bias - When we learn something new, we reassure ourselves that we knew it all along.
  • Confirmation bias - Our brains resist new ideas, instead paying attention only to findings that reinforce our preconceived notions.
  • Brand loyalty - We reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it.

    Packed with interesting sidebars and quick guides on cognition and common fallacies, You Are Not So Smart is a fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge psychology research to turn our minds inside out.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AJBraithwaite - LibraryThing

A lot of this book covered ground that was fairly familiar to me from other, similar reads, but it was still informative and generally interesting. Even if it did leave me feeling as though I can never trust my own judgement or memory ever again. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bness2 - LibraryThing

Excellent overview of the many was our brains hijack our rationality. McRainey draws from classic psychological research, as well as more contemporary studies to show how our subconscious and other ... Read full review


Title Page Copyright Page Dedication Introduction
Confirmation Bias
Hindsight Bias
The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
Normalcy Bias
The Straw Man Fallacy
The Ad Hominem Fallacy
The JustWorld Fallacy
The Public Goods Game
The Ultimatum Game
Subjective Validation
Cult Indoctrination

The Availability Heuristic
The Bystander Effect
The DunningKruger Effect
Brand Loyalty
The Argument from Authority
The Argument from Ignorance
Supernormal Releasers
The Affect Heuristic
Dunbars Number
SelfServing Bias
The Spotlight Effect

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

A two-time winner of the William Randolph Hearst Award, journalist David McRaney writes the blog A self-described psychology nerd, he lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Bibliographic information