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The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,726 ratings  ·  231 reviews
Smart people are not only just as prone to making mistakes as everyone else, they may be even more susceptible to them. This is the "intelligence trap," the subject of David Robson’s fascinating and provocative book.

The Intelligence Trap explores cutting-edge ideas in our understanding of intelligence and expertise, including "strategic ignorance," "meta-forgetfulness," an
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by W.W. Norton Company (first published 2019)
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Richard Nope! The book was mistakenly filed under the first other David Robson, who writes about architecture. There's also a second other David Robson, a pla…moreNope! The book was mistakenly filed under the first other David Robson, who writes about architecture. There's also a second other David Robson, a playwright. Thanks for catching this.

The author of The Intelligence Trap doesn't have a press photo on his website, so no picture as of yet.(less)

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Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Do you know how you end up with ‘friends’ on Facebook that you basically don’t know? Or that you did know, but that was when you were 15 and you only agreed to 'connect' with them on the basis that there won’t actually be all that much ‘connecting’? Well, you may also have noticed that over this summer (2019-20) in Australia we’ve had the occasional bushfire. Many of the people I’m friends with are basically what Australia’s Deputy PM recently referred to as “pure, enlightened and woke capital-c ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Robson is a brilliant writer who presented this idea on how and why intelligent people make stupid mistakes and how to avoid it. This book, “The Intelligent Trap” should be required reading for any professional or expert in any field from business, to healthcare or academia and anything else in between.

The book answers questions on why these mistakes occur and how to cultivate those qualities to protect us from errors that could hurt us, our family, or those whom we serve.

Just reading the firs
Ogi Ogas
My ratings of books on Goodreads are solely a crude ranking of their utility to me, and not an evaluation of literary merit, entertainment value, social importance, humor, insightfulness, scientific accuracy, creative vigor, suspensefulness of plot, depth of characters, vitality of theme, excitement of climax, satisfaction of ending, or any other combination of dimensions of value which we are expected to boil down through some fabulous alchemy into a single digit.
Ashok Krishna
May 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A couple of months ago, I came across a post on LinkedIn, where a senior professional with an IIM degree had shared a post about an Indian student. This student, in his late teens, was said to have secured two patents in his name already and he was also said to have rejected the invitation from the then US President Donald Trump to join NASA. Under the message and the said student’s photograph was a nationalist slogan. The fact is, this message was proven to be a fake information more than a yea ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is great. It should be required reading for anyone who believes it shouldn’t be.

After reading this I realise I am doubly cognitively challenged. I’m not so intelligent that I am one of those who can effortlessly explain my biases and faulty thinking away, but I still manage to fall for them, only noticing them after the fact. I have lost count of the number of times I thought “uh oh, I’ve done that” while reading it.

Needless to say, it was a humbling and enlightening experience readi
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a good book describing the most common mistakes and biases in our decision making progress. Author focuses on highly intelligent people, but I think similar mistakes are committed by average Joe. Most presented studie results can be probably extrapolated to the general population.

Author describes roles of overconfidence, lack of emotional self control and open mindness and problems with cognitive reflection as a main factors of failures despite having high IQ. In my observation,  lack of
Tadas Talaikis
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: b-s
Well, "smart people" do know about cognitive biases and thus are less likely to make dumb mistakes. Author just doesn't compare with the control group, so the conclusion "about smart people making dumb mistakes" is maybe/ unknown/ undefined. Also, author maybe talks about "smart" who are unconscious enough to examine their own thought processes, which, by definition, is no "smart" at all.

IMO, intelligence trap relies in very intense usage of brain's "RAM", so due to that there may be some dumb m
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Why do smart people make mistakes?

1. Lack of tacit knowledge and counter-factual thinking.
2. Dysrationalia, motivated reasoning, bias blind spot. More information just makes intelligent people more stuck to their opinion. Some smart people are very gullible.
3. Earned dogmatism: hubris.
4. Entrenched automatic behaviours.

1. Active open minded thinking
2. Intellectual humility
3. Emotion differentiation
4. Cognitive reflection: view yourself as third person
5. Be curious

Bullshit detection
Amirmansour  Khanmohammad
Oct 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
More intelligent and better educated are better in many things, but they are also superior in believing and defending very stupid beliefs, furthermore they have bigger “bias blind spot”. A good read.
Clare O'Beara
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This book explains how some of the provably smart people (Nobel Prize, or Sherlock Holmes creator) have less common sense than others, or else use their intellect to keep finding new ways to convince themselves of some fallacy like seances.
We are shown a series of studies, for instance of bright children as they grew up, and the author says many of these didn't achieve great work or positions - I saw no mention of the bullying and peer pressure often inflicted on bright kids in class. With teac
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel

The Intelligence Trap was an interesting idea and the book is quite good. David Robson has some interesting stories here and I already had similar opinions on businessmen who can roll in money, but can't start a lawnmower. The smart don't have common sense, so when I seen this book my opinion now has some backing by a printed author. Robson has made a relevant book and if you're in the market for some interesting ideas and outside views, this will appeal to you.

Robson has many interesting stor
Udit Nair
The great nineteenth-century psychologist William James reportedly said that ‘a great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices’. The Intelligence Trap is written for anyone, like me, who wants to escape that mistake – a user’s guide to both the science, and art, of wisdom. The author manages to gather some incredible anecdotes ranging from individuals to organisation who have fallen to intelligence trap. I personally consider this book a great self he ...more
Vesa Linja-Aho
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for everyone who wants to improve their thinking skills, whether you are a high-school student or NASA scientist. The author, renowned science reporter David Robson, has based the book on expert interviews and peer-reviewed sources. To put the main point in short: ability (and desire) to use our brain is even more important than high IQ. High IQ is like a powerful engine in a car, but without driving skills and good navigation system you are not the first one in destination. Robson r ...more
Burt Schoeppe
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Pretty disappointing.

Robson gets the basics of heuristics and intellectual biases right.

More often than not his examples just miss that connective tissue. Lack of clarifying detail really

When he tries to use sports teams in discussion of having too many stars, his examples of both the Iceland soccer team and the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. Sure they were teams lacking in stars who performed really well. But why did they perform well?

His use of the Mount Everest tragedy fails to provide a po
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We all know them, the forgetful professor, the absentminded scientist, and otherwise seemingly intelligent people who do things that make us blink. One example in this book is a prominent scientist who is convince that aliens are among us. This book looks at why it is very easy for experts in a field not belief the evidence that is right in front of their eyes.
I really enjoyed this book. Robson skillfully wove both anecdotes and larger data studies together to show why having a high IQ doesn't
Swapna Peri ( Books Review Cafe )
Book Title: The Intelligence Trap
Author: David Robinson
Format: Hardcover

Book Title:
The title of the book ' The Intelligence Trap ' is very different and interesting

Book Cover:
The cover image of the book is a simple plain colored turquoise cover with the title in yellow.

Inside the book:
In this debut book, the writer Robson examines the “flawed mental habits” of people with “greater intelligence, education, and professional expertise”—and how they can learn to “think more wisely.” The book talks a
Anujit Mitra
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best part of this book is the wealth of references, I have not encountered a book with more.
Our HR Department has given this book to me as a participant of a workshop meant for senior management. I can vouchsafe that most of the participants must have shelved it, which is rather unfortunate as this book is an eye-opener on how our knowledge and experience may, in effect, blinker our visions and damages our ability as economic policy makers. Somebody in our HRD has done a great job in selecting
Mar 21, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish
Had to DNF around a third of the way in. I’ve seen these topics covered far better by other authors and the constant lionizing of various historical figures and celebrities was increasingly grating as the book wore on. I had to drop it when he started singing high praises of Ray Kroc. I really hate it when people assume that wealthy people must have higher levels of intelligence and talent or they wouldn’t be so wealthy. It’s a pet peeve of mine.
Marco Gontijo
Apr 22, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most useful book in self development I've ever read. The problem is that the typical person that is going to benefit the most from reading it is not likely to read it, by assuming they already know the content. ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a life-changing read for me. Will definitely be rereading.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting, I can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend read this. ...more
David Msomba
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contains some useful ideas and gems on how to apply Intellectual humility in your daily life,and how we can combat our blind spot.
Nurfariha  Akmal Fawwazah
Sep 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: intriguing
Language: 5.0
Content: 4.1 (+0.6 for the taxonomy appendix & citation)
Value/Lesson: 4.8

For those who are new to these psychological-terms-concept-world thingies, this book is a great starter. I learned a lot of fascinating psychological theories.

I bought it because of the intriguing title (and it was on promotion!). As someone who was a part of the Malaysian National Gifted Center (and apparently, one of the brightest students there), this book hit me close to home, particularly Part
Rick Wilson
Mar 30, 2022 rated it liked it
Good survey of the issues around “intelligence“ and why it’s a terrible metric for life. At times the examples are a little surface level. And as with a lot of these books the impression I ultimately leave with is that we don’t really understand intelligence how how we think in any robust way.

Talking about emotional, analytical, social intelligences makes me just think that the word intelligence is more of a descriptor than an actual noun. Some sort of weird combination of experience, competenc
Antti Värtö
I always hate rating non-fic books like these, where it turns out I was already familiar with most of the content. There won't be many insights or surprising facts for me here, but that's not really the book's fault. I guess there is no way to know how much I would've enjoyed the book if this had been the first time I encountered these ideas. Probably a lot more than I enjoyed it now, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the author and giving it three stars.

The book is about how intelligenc
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough and well researched argument for why intelligent people are more likely to make terrible decisions. Robson explains why even intelligent people, for example Nobel Scientists and Arthur Conan Doyle, believe in illogical things such as astrology, aliens and the paranormal, as they demonstrate motivated reasoning. It is proposed that intelligent people are less likely to learn from their mistakes, take advice from others and are more able to build up argument to justify their reasoning s ...more
Dima Yousef Jadaan
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
As the title suggests, this book is about why smart people are susceptible to cognitive errors and about strategies that anyone can implement to make better decisions and avoid intellectual biases.⁣

The basic message of the book is that high level of general intelligence is not synonymous with bias-free thinking, and while all people across the intelligence spectrum are prone to flawed thinking, intelligent and educated people are even more so because they seem to have bigger "bias blind spot",
Warren Gossett
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Eat bitterness.” I like to work with the idea presented in this book that learning is better when openly working through obstacles, frustrations and uncertainties.
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This should be de rigueur reading for every literate person out there. If you’re illiterate, get an audiobook/someone to read it aloud for you. This stuff is important.
Amit Verma
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book is about human stupidity; which hides in secret areas behind veils of pseudo or incomplete intelligence. It appears as if total stupidity is constant and when it is reduced in one cognitive field it can grow in other areas.

After reading it you will have few doubts on topper in your class or pundit sitting on tv.
Book is highly readable and enjoyable ( especially after a slow chapter one) and second half is so wonderful and joy to read as it carries contemporary case studies.

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I am an award-winning writer and editor, who specialises in writing in-depth articles probing the extremes of the human mind, body and behaviour.

My first book, The Intelligence Trap, examined the reasons that smart people make stupid decisions.

My second book is The Expectation Effect. It examines how our mindset can influence our health, fitness, happiness and longevity.

If you like what you see h

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7 likes · 0 comments
“Hans Eysenck. “Scientists, especially when they leave the particular field in which they are specialized, are just as ordinary, pig-headed, and unreasonable as everybody else,” he wrote in the 1950s. “And their unusually high intelligence only makes their prejudices all the more dangerous.” 2 likes
“Intelligent and educated people are less likely to learn from their mistakes, for instance, or take advice from others. And when they do err, they are better able to build elaborate arguments to justify their reasoning, meaning that they become more and more dogmatic in their views. Worst still, they appear to have a bigger "bias blind spot," meaning they are less able to recognize the holes in their logic.” 1 likes
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