When I picked up the library copy, I thought
I reserved a book that was on a topic of little
interest to me. David McRaney’s “You are not
so smart: why you can not have too many
friends on facebook , why your money is mostly
fiction and 46 other ways you are deluding “,
on the other hand, offers a fascinating
assessment of thinking flaws that did not
seem to flow from one chapter to the next.
Looking back on its contents the author does
point out surprises and shine lights on several
McRaney poses that he has organized the
book into 46 chapters, each revealing separate
Some of the chapters are are
1. predictable patterns of thought and behavior that
lead to incorrect conclusions.
2. cognitive biases that lead to poor choices.
3 heuristics (short cuts) you use to solve common
problems leading to whacky decisions.
They seemed to appear randomly.
Nonetheless, I took away 9 findings on thinking
1. Priming - revealing a pattern of thought
You are always of two minds at any one moment,
the higher rational self and the lower emotional self.
You are unaware of how unaware you are. Much of
what you think, feel, do and believe is and will be
nudged by what one or the other unconscious primes
of words, objects, colors, of culture.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Create lists, smile, say
please and thank you and make your environment
conducive to the mental state you wish.
2. Illusion of control - a pattern of thought
You often believe you have control over outcomes
that are either random or too complex.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Seek to control small
things, the things that matter, and let them form
a happiness sensation. Control is an illusion.
3. Expectation - take home message
“Your expectations are the horse and your experience
is the cart.”
Taste is subjective. All things being equal you refer
back to ads, packaging or conformity with your
RECOMMENDATION: Presentation is everything.
4. Groupthink - take home message
The desire to reach consensus and avoid confrontation
hinders progress. Allow outsiders to offer their
opinions to keep objective ideas. Find fault with
RECOMMENDATION: Every group needs
provocateurs and challengers.
5. Affect heuristic - Caution
You depend on emotions to tell if something is good or
bad. Your rational, mathematical, reasonable, and
methodical mind is slow and plodding. Your irrational
emotional, instinctive mind is lightning fast. The
conscious mind is still making the choices but the
unconscious mind is providing feelings and influence.
The unconscious mind triggers suggestions from a
shadowy place that is difficult to explain and access.
RECOMMENDATION: First impressions are difficult
6. Introspection heuristic - take home message
Believing you understand your motivations and desires,
your likes and dislikes is called the introspection
illusion. Introspection is not the act of tapping into
your innermost mental constructs, but a fabrication.
7. Apophenia - Caution
Coincidences are a routine part of life, even miraculous
ones. When you connect the dots in your life that tells
a story, then you interpret the story so that it has
special meaning, Then it is Apophenia.
8. Brand loyalty - Caution
You prefer the things you own because you rationalize
your past choices to protect your self-sense.
9. Argument from Authority - Caution
A person’s status and credentials affects your perception
of a message. Science guards against argument from
authority by working against it, questioning every nugget
new information. If something is controversial, there
will be experts on all sides of the argument.