Sunday, 4 August 2013

You Are Not So Smart

I said I was going to write something back here on my CBT blog about You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney, but after writing about Into the Woods I thought it apropos to do it here instead.  You Are Not So Smart is a collection of essays on why we as humans make so many mistakes when it comes to the way we think about things, and it has made me reflect on the way I will portray characters in future.

I've already commented on John Yorke's Into the Woods use of Freudian and Jungian theory for developing characters here.  One thing I will add is that the transition of psychology from being a branch of philosophy to becoming an area of study in its own right was driven by Freud, but he did not do good science.  By that I mean he was not skeptical of his theories, and did not seek to prove the null hypothesis through well documented experiments that could be replicated by others, which is the hallmark of good science.  So, for me, basing character development on Freud, or Jung's theory of character, which has no basis in science just seems wrong, but there again I would call myself a science fiction author.

So, if you are interested in understanding the current level of knowledge about how humans behave then I can thoroughly recommend You Are Not So Smart.  The descriptions of the various ways that people end up deluding themselves into thinking that they are doing the right thing, and the experimental research that supports the behaviours are all nicely encapsulated, which makes for easy reading.  This book is perfect fodder for when you want to write real villains; showing how they got to their position of deluding themselves into believing that they are doing the right thing.

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