I Have Resolved to be Less Vapid


My New Year’s Resolution is to quit all celebrity gossip that cannot be reasonably avoided.  I started feeling a little too Idiocracy (get this movie and watch it if you haven’t already) about the extent of my knowledge into the lives of various strangers, who will never know me from Adam.  I mean, I probably know more about what certain troubled daughters of Hollywood have been up to, than their own mothers.  Once I realized I was guessing blind items more easily than I could work a crossword puzzle, I knew there was trouble.  I aim to change.

Like smokers turn to nicotine patches, though I’ve gone cold turkey on the celeb gossip sites, I am currently dosing myself with a book about Catherine the Great, who worked like a Clinton and partied like a Kardashian.  It kills a few birds.  I get to enjoy the gossipy stories about her heralded personal life, get to satisfy my pre-Soviet Russia sweettooth, buff up on my 18th Century European and Eastern European history, and just flat out enjoy the audacious character of this amazing woman, whose toilet I have seen in person.

After this book, I have lined up a book about phrasing your speech to the utmost advantage, a book on neuroscience that deals with whether or not biological free will exists, and a book that is…

An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise, based on the popular blog, youarenotsosmart.com.

You believe you are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is, but journalist David McRaney is here to tell you that you’re as deluded as the rest of us. But that’s OK-delusions keep us sane. You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self-delusion. It’s like a psychology class, with all the boring parts taken out, and with no homework. Collecting more than sixty of the lies we tell ourselves every day, McRaney has produced a fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge psychology research to turn our minds inside out.

You Are Not So Smart covers a wide range of topics drawn from all aspects of life, such as coffee (it doesn’t stimulate you; it’s just a cure for caffeine withdrawal), placebo buttons (those fake thermostats and crosswalk knobs that give us the illusion of control), hindsight bias (when we learn something new, we reassure ourselves that we knew it all along), confirmation bias (our brains resist new ideas, instead paying attention only to findings that reinforce our preconceived notions), and brand loyalty (we reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it). Packed with interesting sidebars and quick guides on cognition and common fallacies, You Are Not So Smart is infused with humor and wit.

 

Wish me luck.  Quitting LaineyGossip.com isn’t going to be easy.

One thought on “I Have Resolved to be Less Vapid

  1. I just read To Try Men’s Souls and Valley Forge, both co authored by Newt Gingrinch in his US History professor hat. Both very good, very interesting reads that reminded me of how cold, barefoot, starving dysentary ridden rabble stood up to the most powerful empire in the world and prevailed. How close those rabble patriots came to losing, how much politcal infighting there was among the fledgling Continental Congress, how much politicking there was going on to remove Washington as leader of the army, etc are covered. Fascinating, well written read that reminds us that while we think of the civil war as being one that pitted brother against brother, so too did the revolution. Even Ben Franklin’s son was a Loyalist and working against his father.

    The upshot? I recommend both as illuminating reads.

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