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You Are Not So Smart ~David McRaney

The author of this book, David McRaney, is a rather smart guy who has taken every psychological study he can find and written about it on his blog.  Along came a publishing house representative and discovered the blog You Are Not So Smart and persuaded the blogger to turn it into a book.

I think this book could be a valuable tool for psychology students and graduate students for easy reference and discussion of all the trials and studies that have been administered to college students and sold to corporations, advertisers and politicians.  Some of the findings are very old, and some are of the current trials and hoops that are being used by the spin doctors to manipulate and persuade people to buy, buy, buy and vote, vote, vote.

I liked the format of the book.  It presented a Misconception: You choose to accept or refuse an offer based on logic.  Then stated the Truth:  When it comes to making a deal, you base your decision on your status. Following up with 4 to 5 pages of the testing done to complete the discussion and demonstrate the truth in action.  I liked being reminded of these studies and learning about new studies being done and it made me think.

About half way through the book, I got angry.  The author did not give us any hope of “fixing” these responses and I did not like the feeling of being duped by so many forces using these results to make money and manipulate people – en masse.   McRaney was so smart about reporting and interpreting these studies because a psychology teacher in college had taught him how to think.  The non-thinkers were fated to live out their lives by being classically responsive to various stimuli created by the folks who instigated the tests.  I felt that the writer was cynical in his approach and I wanted him to be pro-active in helping us discover how to teach others how to think and overcome.

I have 8 pages of notes of statements that will help me market my blog Wise Ears my professional listening services  –  I found value in the book.

I began to understand how some individuals in my own life have such driving “control” needs and why I worked so hard to free myself and not become their victim.   I comprehend that we clearly need to identify people with such high “control” needs earlier in the cycle in order to change abuse and bullying.  I could integrate enough of the studies and information to see that what we presently do is hindering and encouraging the bully/the abuser and how our society rewards these individuals often with great amounts of money.  (Think of large banks and oil companies as Abusers.)

I would not advise anyone who feels helpless or depressed to dive into this book.

I would recommend that everyone attempt to turn off the television and news shows for at least a month and test if this would make a difference.    I have found the books which offer suggestions of how to change a habit or a process along with the studies more helpful.   I would feel encouraged if I thought more people were training themselves to think and question.

It is a very interesting book and it has value and merit.

My favorite quote turned out to be on the jacket:

“In an idiocracy dominated by cable television bobbleheads, government propagandists, and corporate spinmeisters, many of us know that mass ignorance is a huge problem.  Now, thanks to David McRaney’s mindblowing book, we can finally see the scientific roots of the problem.  Anybody still self-aware enough to wonder why society now worships willful stupidity should read this book.”  ~David Sirota, author of Back to Our Future.


I am not going to read this book a second time, but I am going to keep the copy I received from TLC Book Tours and Gotham Book Publishers as a reference.
If you purchase anything from Amazon from my site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Do you ever feel as though you are being manipulated and controlled?  I wish I had some quick response or funny quip to roll off my tongue, but have often found the only strategy that works for me is getting away from “ them”.  I do not have a TV for this reason and I do not randomly or recreationally shop because I can be a producer’s dream!  How do you ignite the circuits of your thinker?

Related Reading:
Eat to Live
The Procrastination Equation
The Social Animal
You Are Not Your Brain

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10 Responses to “You Are Not So Smart ~David McRaney”

  1. suzen Says:

    Hi Patricia! I think you may be spot on for the intended audience being psych students or researchers. His vocabulary/terms were certainly scientific (for lack of a better word right now) but I totally agree the negatives and cynicism so grated on me I could not read more than 2/3 of it. I love my life, and myself, delusions and all :)

    patricia Reply:

    Me too – I do love my life. the book helped me look at folks a bit differently. My neighbor still handed me a religious track on my walk this morning, instead of feeling like he was wasting paper, I just thought that he had found something that made him feel more secure and safe. He particular group sure likes to spread fear on a daily basis. Today I just said, ” No thank you, I do not feel afraid and I do not want to pass more fear on to others. ” He said I should be afraid…and I said, ” If I work out of fear and needing to be right, I am just standing still. I am a change artist so that is not acceptable for me.” He told me I would have lots of company in Hell…and I laughed and said “yes I do!”
    I am brought back to the fact that our government paid big bucks to have Canadian Mental patients tortured so we could figure out how to do it better. Those studies were not included in this book…a big omission.

  2. Chris Edgar Says:

    Hi Patricia — it sounds like one takeaway from what you are talking about is the importance of listening to our own instincts, and how our bodies respond to what others say and do. I get the sense that many of us who feel manipulated or dominated by others would feel more liberated if we paid attention to our instincts about when something is “off” about a situation, as opposed to doing what we think the “social rules” dictate.
    Chris Edgar recently posted..Why Do I Like Honesty?My Profile

    patricia Reply:

    I think you are right, but our human instants are built upon our learning and learning how to think and reason and resolve.

    We have huge think tanks working on keeping us from thinking and figuring out how to control large groups of people…Control.
    We have a whole generation of BLING people

    If we used our instincts and our thinking as a team effort we would be so powerful.

    Delayed Gratification is not being taught minute by minute on TV…and in music and ads….90% of the voters in the last Presidential campaign voted for the last sound bit they heard… only .5% they read a voters pamphlet or did any research….

    I think you would enjoy reading this fellows blog and book…

    The author does seem to be a bit negative in his outlook, but he shares some good productive information.

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “About half way through the book, I got angry.”

    Patricia – I always appreciate the way you shoot from the hip.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..What Do You Do With Fear?My Profile

    patricia Reply:

    You are welcome. I do like to see some rays of sunshine or possibility – I felt by the middle that I was just another “stupid, pack following, human being who was being manipulated by so many companies and advertisers” Disheartening

    About the middle, the author spent a great deal of time on how everyone thinks they are the exception to these test results…just like so many people think they are the 1%….even the poorest of people, believe they are the exception.

  4. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    It sounds like the author has a lot of great info to impart about the way we are being manipulated. I know what you mean about wanting advice that you can take away though, so I understand why this might not be your favorite book.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    patricia Reply:

    Not my favorite book, yes, and I did get some good take away material, but it was discouraging also…

    If we are so programed and manipulated by people…how do we free our free will and make changes in our life….

    I enjoyed reading it for the tour and working through what I truly thought about this book Thank you.

  5. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I admire your tenacity to read and comprehend the authors and their words – we can learn so much if we do this, as long as we’re not influenced too much … Good for you – and for providing us with an honest critique. All the best Hilary
    Hilary recently posted..Oxford University, Emily Hobhouse and the Boer War, schooldays and family links … Part 1My Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Being told over 100 times in this book that You Are Not So Smart truly had an affect/effect on me – and learning about how all these test results are being used to control and manipulate people was fairly overwhelming…

    I think many, many people would just find this attitude and negativity a hoot.

    My hope is that the book will bring awareness to people and then they will strive daily to not be so manipulated. I think the energy crisis we are involved with right now, makes it mandatory that people improve their own thinking and stop feeling entitled and as though they are the exception.