The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes

Book review by Deane Barker
David Robson
★★★★ (-1.96%) 🛈
This Review | This Book

A book about how smart people are sometimes very stupid. Sometimes, we can be so smart and analytical that we outsmart ourselves, lose sight of the forest for the trees, and come full-circle back to stupid.

One example is Arthur Conan-Doyle, the nominally brilliant author of Sherlock Holmes. He was a huge believer in supernatural. He relentlessly visited mediums and psychics. Once, we took his friend Harry Houdini, who then proceeded to call BS on all of it, which destroyed their friendship.

In the end, the book is like most others that are about cognitive fallacies. There is a very interesting chapter on East Asian education, and how they are taught to “be dumb” in some cases, as a key pillar of learning, while in the West, we tend to only celebrate educational success. We almost don’t like to admit we have to learn anything – we feel dumb when we don’t know something, even when admitting to that ignorance is required to learn the thing.

The overriding theme seems to be that pride, not intelligence, makes us stupid. The quickest way to be dumb, is to be too proud to admit that you don’t know something.

The book seemed a touch too long, and got slow in places. But not a bad read.

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