You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney

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Thought provoking book that outlines how your mind thinks by explaining 46 concepts very well, citing studies or examples to explain these concepts. Below are some of the concepts that I found interesting.

Starts outlining a 1970s experiment with numbered cards and colours on the other sides. The rule to test is that a card has an even number then it has a red colour on the back. Which of the following cards do you turn over to test this hypothesis: 3, 8, red, brown. Most people get this wrong; correct answer 8 and brown (if red and is odd number doesnt disprove the above). However if similar cards have an alcoholic drink on one side and age of drinker on the other side and the test is to determine which cards to turn over to see if there under age drinkers? It is generally easier for people to identify which cards to turn over from 17, 25, beer, water which is less of an abstract challenge. Contains studies the outline how you often take short cuts when processing information.

Often you can make up explanations to justify your actions which you believe are reasons. An interesting concept is normalcy bias, this happens when an impending disaster is about to occur, people try to normalise this by continuing their usual routine. This can potentially cost lives in terms of evacuating a building, move first, don’t be swayed by how others are acting.

Availability bias, ease of recalling something means that you may think is more frequent than it is.

Bystander effect, if more people witness something then individual people are less likely to take action.

Dunning-Kruger effect you are poorer than you think at performing in situations, for example you maybe excellent at a skill compared to a small group of friends but when you step up to worldwide competition you are an amateur. It also is harder to predict how long it takes to move from competent to expert.

Apophenia; analysing coincidences and thinking there are connections that are not present.

If you are unsure or ignorant of something you are more likely to accept strange explanations.

Straw man’s fallacy more likely to occur when you are losing an argument. Straw man is when one reframes the other person’s position, often used by politicians saying this will then happen. Means the other person then has to say they don’t want something to happen and explanation again their initial argument.

Ad Hominem Fallacy what someone says and why they say it should be judged separately, if you are calling names and attacking the other person rather than what they are actually saying you are committing this fallacy.

Suggests that groups can’t function efficiently if higher than 150 people.

Spotlight effect, everyone is egocentric, thinking other people are paying more attention to themselves than others actually are. Most people don’t notice what you are doing.

Third party effect; majority of people think they are different from others, more unique, not persuaded by advertising as they are independent thinkers, they are not.

Catharsis, if you vent your anger it doesn’t go away it returns more often.

Memories are constructed each

time from whatever information is currently available. This makes memories highly susceptible to influences from the present. Someone called Loftus studied this in detail and has many studies demonstrating inserting memories can occur such as persuading people they met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland or go lost as a child.

Conformity you may think you may not conform to requests but you are more likely to if from an authority figure. Interesting example that I had not heard was of Officer Scott, someone who phoned fast food restaurants in America stating they were a policeman and getting people to take their clothes off or getting them to humiliate themselves in someway. The calls started with small requests then gradually building up to more major ones. Case went to trial in 2006 and the suspect got off, then the phone calls stopped.

Conditioning occur by gradually building up patterns of behaviour and can be induced in humans and animals. To break a habit replace with an alternative behaviour and provide yourself with lots of positive rewards.

Often you create conditions to limit your chance of success to protect your ego.

You only take a small amount of information that your eyes take in and even a smaller amount of this is processed.

Consistency bias is failing to realise that overtime your views will naturally change.

You often believe you have control

over outcomes that are either random or are too complex to predict.

Attribution bias is how people behave in relation to the circumstances they are surrounded by, this is hard to detect in others.

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