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Staff Review: You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart Cover

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

David McRaney
Oneworld Publications

You have everything under control. Rationality and logic guide your decision-making. You know who you are, what you believe and why you believe it. You can recognise a bad situation when you’re in one.

How much of this description fits? It fit me. Or, it did. You and I, it turns out, are never in complete control. Our brains manipulate us, not the other way around. Through them, we ignore evidence and obscure facts. We can be very suggestible, requiring only mild nudges to act against our interests.

How can the second description be more apt than the first? Simple answer: you are not so smart.

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 by David McRaney began as a blog, and if you are familiar with the blog you will recognise its format replicated  here.

Each chapter opens with two statements: a common misconception and the truth. Truth statements act as the summary for the chapter, which rely on psychology and emerging fields such as neuroplasticity to make their case.  Esoteric concepts more suited to inch-thick psychology manuals – priming, normalcy bias, the availability heuristic – are explained using perfectly clear language and simple, everyday examples. McRaney’s prose is self-assured without ever becoming patronising, the author padding his explanations with enough personal stories to maintain he is no more immune to what he describes than his reader.

You are Not So Smart  is an intriguing read that makes clear the ways in which your sense of yourself and other people is hopelessly mired in bias and contradiction. Thankfully the book is neither self-help nor pop-psychology. There are no easy answers to take, only the understanding that self-delusion is both an unavoidable human trait and necessary to sanity. Yes, you may not be so smart. But it might be the smartest thing you could learn.

David McRaney’s excellent blog.

Check out the book trailer.

Find the book here, and buy at your local bookshop.

Staff Bio Damien Daunt

Damien Daunt
Sales & Account Support, Online
Nature Publishing Group / Palgrave Macmillan

Damien is an avid reader who enjoys making aspirational statements. His likes include books, social media and the Dewey Decimal System, but not necessarily in that order.

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