You Are Not So Smart

I have  mentioned before that Skeptic Magazine is part of my regular reading (See earlier post). Skeptic also provides a regular online version with automatic mailings. Recently I was poking around the Skeptic site and discovered that Skeptic supports a series of podcasts on topics that interest thinking people—Skepticality. I believe there are almost 200 podcasts available.

Listening to a recent podcast interview with David McRaney, the author of the weblog on WordPress called You Are Not So Smart, speaking about all the ways we lie to ourselves. One statement from McRaney struck me:  if you’re looking for patterns in the world, you are not so smart. Then I learned that McRaney has collected many of the subjects from his weblog and published a book called (naturally) You Are Not So Smart. I was so fascinated by the discussion that I got online and downloaded the book to my iPad (from iBooks, of course). I have only started reading and I recommend everyone get a copy. McRaney writes easily and makes things obvious. He uses many examples that help understanding the subjects but doesn’t spend so much time in his explanation that the reader gets lost or confused. Logic can be fun!

I have already shared some of the knowledge I received from the book and the list of chapters might pique your interest further. First the specifics:

Your Are Not So Smart:  Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 48 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney (Dutton, 2011).

Table of Contents

  1. Priming
  2. Confabulation
  3. Confirmation Bias
  4. Hindsight Bias
  5. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
  6. Procrastination
  7. Normalcy Bias
  8. Introspection
  9. The Availability Heuristic
  10. The Bystander Effect
  11. The Dunning-Kruger Effect
  12. Apophenia
  13. Brand Loyalty
  14. The Argument from Authority
  15. The Argument from Ignorance
  16. The Straw Man Fallacy
  17. The Ad Hominem Fallacy
  18. The Just-World Fallacy
  19. The Public Goods Game
  20. The Ultimatum Game
  21. Subjective Validation
  22. Cult Indoctrination
  23. Groupthink
  24. Supernormal Releasers
  25. The Affect Heuristic
  26. Dunbar’s Number
  27. Selling out
  28. Self-Serving Bias
  29. The Spotlight Effect
  30. The Third Person Effect
  31. Catharsis
  32. The Misinformation Effect
  33. Conformity
  34. Extinction Burst
  35. Social Loafing
  36. The Illusion of Transparency
  37. Learned Helplessness
  38. Embodied Cognition
  39. The Anchoring Effect
  40. Attention
  41. Self-Handicapping
  42. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
  43. The Moment
  44. Consistency Bias
  45. The Representativeness Heuristic
  46. Expectation
  47. The Illusion of Control
  48. The Fundamental Attribution Error

There’s also a great bibliography if you want to go even deeper into some of these subjects.

One response

  1. Thanks for the tip inre: McRaney. There’s another book in the same vein that you may be familiar with: “How We Know What Isn’t So: The Falllibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life” by Thomas Gilovich. Good stuff.

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