Robson reveals the surprising ways that even the brightest minds and most talented organizations can go wrong―from some of Thomas Edison’s worst ideas to failures at NASA, Nokia, and the FBI. And he offers practical advice to avoid mistakes based on the timeless lessons of Benjamin Franklin, Richard Feynman, and Daniel Kahneman.
... 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?