You Are Not So Smart – David McRaney

Review From User :

We think we're really smart, that we are much better than the stupid people around us, but in reality, our brains take shortcuts to make situations easier for us to handle. This book divulges 48 ways that show we aren't really all that smart.

This isn't so much a full review as just my brief impressions. Which are, in one word: WOW! This book was incredible to read! I spent an entire 2+ hour flight reading this, unable to put it down and read my fiction books!

Some of these examples I had heard of before (such as the Invisible Gorilla experiment and how we rewrite our memories). Others just astounded me, such as how our brains can't really hold more than about 150 people or the many ways we are bad at statistics (Affect Heuristic, Illusion of Control, etc.). I thought it was particularly clever how McRaney made sure in each section to say "you are not so smart" at least once; it never came off repetitive or condescending.

About the only complaint I have is how some of these 48 examples overlap, such as with Aprophenia and Consistency Bias. It was sometimes difficult to differentiate the differences or, I should say, understand why the author split the two items apart instead of tie them together. It did kinda irk me that the Just-World Fallacy was the explanation for blaming a woman's rape on her dress or going out at night. Sure, some of it may contribute, but I doubt that victim blaming can be 100% attributed to our brains misfiring like this. Also, the book hints that men and women think differently; I still think that society has something to do with that.

But really, don't take these complaints too much to heart (they are VERY mild and barely mentioned). It's a fascinating look at our brains, how we think, and how we can try to overcome some of these fallacies to be more rounded individuals. Highly recommended!


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