Please join David McRaney, author of You Are Not So Smart, as he tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Shannon Hopkins

Do you remember that time, a few years ago, when you were at that place with a bunch of people and you did that awesome thing that everybody thought was the coolest thing ever? Of course you do; that’s why you tell the story every time you get the chance. Except during one telling, your best friend reminds you that she was the one who did the awesome thing, she was the one everybody thought was cool, and you actually weren’t there at all…

You’re so pleased at the day’s social networking: you officially have 1,000 Facebook friends! Clearly you are blessed with a widespread and far-flung network of close compatriots…except you only meaningfully interact with about 150 of them.

These observations are just an example of David McRaney’s arguments in You Are Not So Smart, a 48-chapter treatise on the mental processes that have us fooled into thinking that we are smarter, more intuitive, nicer and calmer and more important to the general public than we really are. He discusses the idea of confabulation (chapter 2), the brain’s practice of filling in gaps in memory and information with other information to form a seamless pattern of detail, which alters our memories and leads us to create entirely fabricated explanations for our inexplicable actions; the truth about procrastination (chapter 6), which is not that we are poor time managers but that we are poor controllers of impulse; and the third person effect, which makes us all think that we are far less susceptible to persuasion and influence than the others around us.

McRaney consults news stories, psychological studies, and prior works such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink to develop each concept. You Are Not So Smart is divided into concise chapters designed either for a straight read-through or for the browser who is interested in one or two particular phenomena. While his premise is not purely original, McRaney’s straightforward, no-nonsense writing style is amusing and encourages the reader to stop and think about how our brains have us tricked in everyday situations. This is a quick, great read for anybody who is smart enough to realize that we are really not so smart.

Rating: 4.5/5

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fianc é and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.

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Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Gotham. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.