You Are Not So Smart Book Summary - You Are Not So Smart Book explained in key points
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You Are Not So Smart summary

David McRaney

Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself

4.3 (105 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney is a fascinating exploration into the delusions and biases of the human mind. It exposes how our brains can trick us into feeling superior, believing falsehoods, and making irrational decisions.

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    You Are Not So Smart
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    We delude ourselves that random situations have meaning or that we can control them.

    It would be nice to believe that we humans are rational beings who see the world as it really is. But, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

    Rather than being mere objective observers of the world around us, we constantly delude ourselves in order to make sense of coincidences and other random happenings.

    We do this by applying order to the random events and chaotic coincidences that occur around us.

    For ancient man, the ability to recognize patterns was essential to his survival: it enabled him to find food, and to distinguish friends from enemies and predators from potential prey.

    As a result, we’ve evolved into beings always on the lookout for patterns in the “noise” around us. We simply aren’t capable of switching off our pattern-recognition ability – which explains why we often see patterns where none exist.

    Have you ever, say, marveled at how a particular number – for example, seven – keeps popping up during your day? Or what if you find out that your blind date’s mother shares a name with your mother – does this make you think, even briefly, that you’re meant for each other?

    The fact is, the number seven is as common as all other numbers and countless other mothers share your mother’s name. They’re merely coincidences, but we see what we want to see, and we want to see meaning.

    What’s more, we not only find meaning in random situations, but we also trick ourselves into believing we can control them.

    For example, although the numbers that come up when a die is rolled are completely random, studies have shown that the more powerful a person feels, the more they believe they can predict the next roll of the die.

    Also, research indicates that most people engage in at least some “magical thinking,” like crossing our fingers when we wish for something particular to happen. Here, too, we believe we can control the uncontrollable.

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    What is You Are Not So Smart about?

    You Are Not So Smart (2011) explores the many different ways we have of deluding ourselves. By delving into a wide range of psychological research, the author challenges the notion that we are logical, rational beings who see the world as it really is and makes a case that we mislead ourselves every single day, for better and for worse.

    You Are Not So Smart Review

    You Are Not So Smart (2011) is a thought-provoking exploration of our human biases and misconceptions. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers eye-opening insights on how our minds deceive us, revealing the cognitive fallacies that influence our thinking and decision-making.
    • Through compelling examples and research, it shows how we create our own reality and illuminates the mechanisms behind our self-delusion.
    • With its engaging and accessible approach, the book presents complex concepts in a digestible manner, ensuring an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable read.

    Who should read You Are Not So Smart?

    • Anyone who believes that they’re quite rational in their thinking and behavior
    • Anyone interested in how we delude ourselves every day

    About the Author

    David McRaney is a journalist, “psychology nerd,” and the author of the popular blog YouAreNotSoSmart.com, which served as the basis for this book. He has written for several newspapers including The Lamar Times and The Huffington Post, and was named one of the top ten college journalists in the nation in 2006.

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    You Are Not So Smart FAQs 

    What is the main message of You Are Not So Smart?

    Questioning our own abilities leads to better understanding of human behavior.

    How long does it take to read You Are Not So Smart?

    Reading time varies, but the Blinkist summary takes 15 minutes to read.

    Is You Are Not So Smart a good book? Is it worth reading?

    You Are Not So Smart is worth reading for its insights into the quirks of human psychology.

    Who is the author of You Are Not So Smart?

    The author of You Are Not So Smart is David McRaney.

    What to read after You Are Not So Smart?

    If you're wondering what to read next after You Are Not So Smart, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
    • The Social Animal by David Brooks
    • You are Now Less Dumb by David McRaney
    • Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland
    • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
    • Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
    • Leading Through Inflation by Ram Charan & Geri Willigan
    • The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith
    • How Minds Change by David McRaney
    • Loving Your Spouse When You Feel Like Walking Away by Gary Chapman