Do you keep putting off your dentist appointment, find it impossible to wrench yourself away from your smart phone to do your scheduled sit-ups, read People magazine instead of Anna Karenina (which is on your must-quickly-read-before-the-movie-comes-out list), pass up award-winning documentaries on your DVD queue in favour of CSI: Miami, and choose chicken biryani over the salad leaves you bought a few days before with the best of healthy intentions?
Yes, yes. Guilty as charged.
In You Are Not So Smart, you will find out the reasons we do the things we do. Author David McRaney takes us on a tour of our universally human self-delusions, and shows us how our brains constantly play tricks on us. Each of the 48 chapters in the book describes a cognitive bias that shows how we are not the rational clear-headed decision makers we like to think we are. We all have a desire to be right all the time, and to see ourselves in a positive light. To achieve these goals, we can stretch our minds pretty far!
For instance, the Misinformation Effect shows how our memories are constantly re-created and highly susceptible to influences from our present (this might explain not only why my husband’s account of how we both met is vastly different from mine, but also how the details of the now movie-worthy story changes with each telling.) Confirmation Bias is our brain’s tendency to seek out only information that confirms opinions we already have, while Apophenia shows how we are quite fond of attributing meaning to coincidences. Interestingly, Dunbar’s Number states that no matter how many friends you have on Facebook, even the most outgoing people cannot maintain relationships with (and remember the names and faces of) more than 150 people at once. And by the way, if your building ever catches fire (touch wood. Ok, touch water), move fast! Apparently, most people don’t – instead, we tend to freeze in a crisis and fool ourselves that everything is fine (Normalcy Bias).
Yes, this book tells us we are fabulous procrastinators, easily manipulated, extremely deluded and exceedingly good at ignoring reality. But hey, it’s liberating to know that we were all born that way, including the greatest scientists, artists – and yes, even librarians! It truly is a fascinating read, offering many entertaining and enlightening nuggets of information, which – of course – you will think you already know, thanks to Hindsight Bias!
Contributed by poetrygirl