You Are Not So Smart

David McRaney ★★★★★

A must-read about cognitive biases, logical fallacies and heuristics. In short: we’re skewed.

We humans like to think of ourselves as thinking, rational beings. We make things possible that no other species has achieved; we engineer spacecrafts and make atoms split. At the same time, we use mental shortcuts and oversimplify things. We forget why we went to the living room for. We drive past our own house. We make logical errors and bad conclusions. We are not so smart.

The book is divided into chapters, each starting with a short description of a misconception and the truth behind it. Very enjoyable and thought-provoking book.


Yet you lock your keys in the car. You forget what it was you were about to say. You get fat. You go broke. Others do it too. From bank crises to sexual escapades, we can all be really stupid sometimes.

THE MISCONCEPTION: You know when you are lying to yourself. THE TRUTH: You are often ignorant of your motivations and create fictional narratives to explain your decisions, emotions, and history without realizing it.

You make the mistake of believing only your rational mind is in control, but your rational mind is usually oblivious to the influence of your unconscious. In this book I add another proposition: You are unaware of how unaware you are.

People like to be told what they already know. […] people weren’t buying books for the information, they were buying them for the confirmation.