Review and Giveaway: You are Not So Smart by David McRaney

You Are Not So Smart

David McRaney

302 pages

Publication Date: October 27, 2011

Publisher: Gotham Books

Source: Publisher

You are always explaining to yourself the motivations for your actions and the causes to the effects in your life, and you make them up without realizing it when you don’t know the answers. Over time, these explanations become your idea of who you are and your place in the world. They are your self. 

Have you ever thought if there’s an emergency, you’ll jump to action? Or maybe you think you procrastinate because you can’t manage your time as well as you would like? In You Are Not So Smart, author David McRaney sets out to prove you wrong and explain why people think the way they do. Using psychology studies, Rainey shows readers some important trends such as the Texas sharpshooter fallacy and why metacognition, thinking about thinking, can help us became more aware of the way we make decisions.

You Are Not So Smart is compiled of short chapters, that each focuses on a certain topic. McRaney writes in a way that makes everything easy to understand. I found much of it to be fascinating but also a little scary like the normalcy bias. It’s a phenomenon that’s normal but pretty obstructive during an emergency and people have literally seconds to act. When normalcy bias kicks in, an emergency becomes too overwhelming and a person fools themselves into thinking that everything is normal. But what ends up happening is that a person doesn’t ever react. In life-threatening situations, the effect can be fatal. Normalcy bias isn’t something that you can get rid of, because you use it in situations big and small, but it was pretty terrifying to think that in an emergency I might refuse to act when I most need to.

There are also a lot of humorous chapters including my favorite on the Dunning Kruger effect. Have you ever found yourself really good at something and decided maybe you should enter a contest? Maybe once you entered, you realized that you aren’t as good as you thought you were? That’s the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s what makes reality talent shows so addicting to watch since so many people who don’t have talent, think they do and audition. You know what shows I’m talking about.

It wasn’t until reading this book that I learned that the author has a blog of the same name and some of these chapters were originally blog posts ala Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. So, I can’t tell you how much of the book’s material were originally blog posts but I read a post on McRaney’s blog that states many of the topics featured in the book are new.   I don’t think it really matters either way because You Are Not So Smart is a terrifying, funny, entertaining read that you’ll find hard to put down. My rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to giveaway. Leave a comment below, letting me know to enter you in the contest. I’ll announce a winner this Monday. Good luck.

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20 thoughts on “Review and Giveaway: You are Not So Smart by David McRaney

  1. I think this sounds fascinating, and it’s just the type of nonfiction that I love to read. I am so glad that you shared some examples with us from the book, and I would love a chance to be entered in the giveaway! Thanks so much for the great review! The normalcy bias does indeed sound scary!

    zibilee(at)figearo(dot)net

  2. Ok, this looks really good. My husband and I have been really into memory, lately. Weird, I know, but it’s more like disproving memory or how it’s just plain wrong most of the time. This looks like something we’d both like!

  3. Please enter me in this giveaway. I would love to know more about the different strange ways of thinking!

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

  4. Pingback: David McRaney, author of You Are Not So Smart, on tour October/November 2011 | TLC Book Tours

  5. ” terrifying, funny, entertaining” – now those are three words that I wouldn’t think would go together! Sound like this is a fascinating read!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  6. Sound like something I’d like to read. It’s the big fish in a small pond syndrome … talented among your friends, but maybe not so much in the big, wide world. Please enter me!

  7. Sure, enter me. I actually do admit that I am not the best in a crisis, so ability to think-act-fast is not on my good skills list.

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