... offers an intriguing angle on our flawed habits of mind ... this book is most entertaining when it allows readers to rubberneck at the collisions. The author’s anecdotes about the missteps of masterminds offer plenty of opportunities for schadenfreude—although the assumption that these problems only afflict other people is a perfect illustration of the blind spots intelligent people often have about themselves ... Mr. Robson offers some proven tricks for dodging these intellectual pratfalls. Many are familiar enough to be cliché... These ideas may sound like common sense, but Mr. Robson convincingly shows us that they are not quite common enough ... Clearly, we need to find new and better ways to teach critical thinking and measure good judgment. Reading David Robson’s book would be a good place to start.
Robson offers a toolkit for developing skills to overcome these deficiencies, which includes moral algebra, self-reflection, and the ability to recognize lies and information. As a bonus, he illustrates how acquiring evidence-based wisdom improves memory ... This fascinating read provides solutions for combating misinformation that are particularly helpful in today’s political climate.
... startling, provocative and potently useful ... Robson is a science journalist, and the book draws throughout on well-evidenced psychological research. What is fresh is how he brings it all together ... Most persuasive is Robson’s idea of 'cognitive inoculation' ... Anyone in business will find the two chapters on failing teams and corporate cultures thought-provoking ... impressive and readable, but Robson trips up on one of his own snares: the straw man. Attacking a narrow, mid-20th-century, IQ-based understanding of intelligence is not difficult. And for all that the book feels exciting, with all that psychological evidence and all those technical terms, the pitfalls it identifies and the solutions it offers will feel familiar to anyone with a classical education. Curiosity, intellectual humility, reflectiveness, autonomy? It sounds like good old-fashioned scepticism. And who did not know that the cleverest person can be a fool?
Grounded in well-researched scientific studies, Robson synthesizes concepts from history, sociology, biology, education, science, philosophy, and psychology, illustrates them with anecdotes about people who are famous, infamous, and, surprisingly often, just like us, and instructs us on how to be wiser than we are no matter what our intelligence ... This book is not a quick fix to avoiding making dumb mistakes. It moves slowly, building its case. A smattering of well-constructed charts and an excellent 'taxonomy of stupidity and wisdom' make the material more understandable and foster the book’s readability.
... an accessible and engaging discussion of the nature of human intelligence ... Anecdotes abound of individuals with a high IQ who have made substantial blunders, and Robson presents many captivating examples. But in terms of where the field stands, scientists are currently grappling with the question of whether IQ and decision-making can even be disentangled—rather than whether they are in opposition ... Despite my concerns about the book’s central premise, I found the presentation and wealth of evidence reviewed to be impressively accessible, with engaging storytelling, depth of discussion, and counterintuitive conclusions that are sure to engage the reader’s capacity for critical thought and intelligent decision-making.
Robson offers an unusually readable, wide-ranging survey of today’s best thinking on thinking, including an intriguing overview of the emerging science of 'evidence-based wisdom,' which is generating practical strategies to improve decision-making in high-stakes situations. The author offers solid tips based on experiments by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago’s Center for Practical Wisdom and elsewhere, showing ways to reduce belief in pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and fake news ... An engrossing standout in the thinking genre that will appeal to anyone who has ever been wrongheaded.
Robson builds his entertaining and highly readable pop-psychology study on the perhaps dubious expectation that readers will still assume 'intelligence is synonymous with good thinking' and associate good decision-making with prestigious jobs and education. Despite this relatively weak foundation, Robson exceeds expectations in his look at the pitfalls of individual and institutional intelligence, collecting a number of fascinating case studies ... Robson effectively summarizes the established and emerging bodies of research that support his argument ... Occasionally, the writing veers into self-help territory, with briefs for the benefit of traits such as intellectual humility, which feels discordant with Robson’s otherwise narrative work. However, he strikes the right balance between illustrative vignettes and accessible translations of complex research, delivering a smart look at intellect and its shortcomings.