You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney
Author: David McRaney
Genre: Non-Fiction (Psychology / Pop Culture / Americana / Personality / Popular Science)
Publisher/Publication Date: Gotham (10/27/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: Yes.
One-sentence summary: Forty-eight essays on human behavior and the fascinating, necessary, and amazing way we really don't understand how our brains work.
Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it's quirky and punchy, like the book.
First line: You hold in your hands a compendium of information about self-delusion and the wonderful ways we all succumb to it.
Did... I torture everyone around me with non-stop trivia gleaned from this book?: YES. Sorry co-workers and friends! I couldn't help myself -- this stuff is fascinating!
Did... I start reading McRaney's blog upon finishing this book?: YES. It's horrifying/awesome what I've learned, and this post on The Sunk Cost Fallacy -- and Farmville -- is a fabu example of how his posts hit close to home!
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure -- you'll never know you knew so little about yourself! -- or buy for the budding psychologist or behaviorist in your life.
Why did I get this book?: I'm a trivia geek plus, as an anthropology student, I'm fascinated by human behavior.
Review: The basis of this immensely entertaining book is McRaney's blog (which is, unsurprisingly, immensely entertaining). A journalist who was inspired by an intro to psychology course, McRaney cogently explains the various ways we delude ourselves and act irrationally. Each essay opens with a 'Misconception' followed by 'The Truth', and then a thorough explanation. As a result, each chapter is a self-contained gem packed with nerdy trivia and fascinating science. They don't necessarily build off each other, so you can browse the essays at your leisure, picking what grabs you the most. Topics range from procrastination, brand loyalty, cult indoctrination, to the illusion of control, the bystander effect, and the straw man fallacy.
McRaney's writing is smart but funny, loaded with tons of fascinating psychological studies and pop culture references. I found myself missing the illustrations that can be found on McRaney's blog posts but otherwise, I can't complain about this collection. I'm running out of adjectives to express the joy I felt with each revelation (not to mention the horror, bafflement, and shock). This is a wildly fun book that promises to surprise, amaze, and educate you!
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of You Are Not So Smart to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this short form. Open to US/CA readers, closes 11/11.