Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb MistakesThe Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes by David   Robson

by David Robson
Being of the journalist tribe, I’m often asked how to distinguish between real and fake news. My answer—be cautious, skeptical, intuitive, read several accounts and always consider the source—has so far never closed the issue with the triumphant thunder one might want. Author David Robson brings additional resources to the problem, certainly a key difficulty of our days, in the hopeful exploration of other forms of mental discernment not measurable by standard intelligence tests. He calls these powers extra-cognitive, and certainly they deserve attention if only to remind us how poorly we appreciate intellect when measured along a single lonely axis. Much of the book admires these other powers—intuition, curiosity, the vivisection of one’s own argument, courage, open-mindedness and others—and the people who study them. The research is assiduous; the case studies are excellent, and the hope is invigorated that one day we might all see through bunkum as easily as a window glass. At the end, though, it can still be argued that no acuities or mental combinations will ever unerringly tell truth from fraud, and we must always default to doing the best we can at the moment with whatever powers we can bring to bear.
Still, the implication here that smug reliance on our logic and superior intelligence serves us poorly, and that finding truth today requires the fuller use of our powers, deserves as wide a distribution as this book can possibly get. It's one of those books that should be kept near, and read periodically, as a kind of hygiene, to soften the hardening of ideas.

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