You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself

David McRaney follows up 2011's You Are Not So Smart with another series of thought-provoking ideas, observations and analysis on why humans think and act the way we do. You Are Now Less Dumb digs deep into the annals of scientific investigations, debunking a variety of commonly accepted "misconceptions" on human behavior. The notion that "you objectively appraise the individual attributes of other people," for example, is corrected and recast as "you judge specific qualities of others based on your global evaluation of their character and appearance." As McRaney explains, this is due to a "halo effect" that "causes one trait about a person to color your attitude and perceptions of all their other traits." (This is why short actors stand on boxes to appear as tall or taller than their counterparts; tall people automatically garner more positive emotions.)

Want to know how much money it takes to be a happy American or how the environment can affect your degree of sexual arousal? McRaney supports his arguments on these and other subjects with many case studies conducted by scientists whose experiments isolated the one factor they were searching for in their test subjects. The prose is dense, at times mindboggling, but McRaney does provide readers with many new ideas. Like many concepts, though, there are exceptions to every rule--and not everyone may agree with his keen analysis. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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