“You Are Now Less Dumb” by David McRaney

Despite a flippant and self-helpy title, this book is seriously informative. Publishers Weekly, reviewing David McRaney’s You Are Now Less Dumb

In David McRaney‘s 2014 You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself, 15 additional topics to the ones he chose for You Are Not So Smart (2011) are presented.

Publishers Weekly: “The Mississippi-based journalist and blogger ranges far and wide in his explication of various theories of individual and social psychology, in the process shedding light on the personal blind spots that skew reality while also allowing us to navigate it…(P)age after page, readers will be laughing, learning, and looking at themselves in new ways. McRaney is a fine stylist, easily balancing anecdote, analysis, and witty asides.”

Selected Quotes from You Are Now Less Dumb

What should be evident from the studies on the backfire effect is you can never win an argument online. When you start to pull out facts and figures, hyperlinks and quotes, you are actually making the opponent feel even surer of his position than before you started the debate. As he matches your fervor, the same thing happens in your skull. The backfire effect pushes both of you deeper into your original beliefs. Climate scientist John Cook and psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky write in their pamphlet, The Debunking Handbook, “A simple myth is more cognitively attractive than an over-complicated correction.” Multiple lines of research back up this advice.

People who take credit for the times when things go their way but who put the blame on others when they stumble or fall are generally happier people.

Don’t put people, or anything else, on pedestals, not even your children. Avoid global labels such as genius or weirdo. Realize those closest get the benefit of the doubt and so do the most beautiful and radiant among us. Know the halo effect causes you to see a nice person as temporarily angry and an angry person as temporarily nice. Know that one good quality, or a memory of several, can keep in your life people who may be doing you more harm than good. Pay attention to the fact that when someone seems nice and upbeat, the words coming out of his or her mouth will change in meaning, and if that same person were depressive, arrogant, or foul in some other way, your perceptions of those same exact words would change along with the person’s other features.

A belief is not more likely to be accurate just because many people share it.

You can see the proof in an MRI scan of someone presented with political opinions that conflict with her own. The brain scans of a person shown statements that oppose her political stance show that the highest areas of the cortex, the portions responsible for providing rational thought, get less blood until another statement is presented that confirms her beliefs. Your brain literally begins to shut down when you feel your ideology is threatened. Try it yourself. Watch a pundit you hate for fifteen minutes. Resist the urge to change the channel. Don’t complain to the person next to you. Don’t get online and rant. Try to let it go. You will find this is excruciatingly difficult.

The trailer for You Are Now Less Dumb highlights the role of science in making us smarter:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.