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The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust

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The Intelligence Trap

The Intelligence Trap

While we can't avoid psychological biases, we can minimize their impact.

Author(s): David Robson

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Date of publication: 2019

Buy this book [amazon.com]


Are people equipped with a high IQ or level of education immune to cognitive biases? Are they less subjected to being conned by overestimating their capacities, by relying inopportunely on past experiences, by following irrational beliefs? The author of this book categorically answers, “No”. He bases his response on numerous studies conducted on panels of people who have a strong level of knowledge or are even exceptionally gifted. Their outcome is irrevocable: no one is exempt of errors in judgment.

Even a sharp brain collects, sorts and processes information by using numerous filters and shortcuts. Neither a MBA nor a long experience protect the leader against these biases. On the contrary, the most intelligent and qualified people could even be particularly vulnerable: they are indeed more prone to manipulate facts and data to make them fit their vision.

Is this however a curse? Not quite, as a whole research angle suggests that it is possible to minimize the impact of these biases. The author provides a few pieces of advice to achieve this: formulating in a certain way the questions we ask ourselves, using checklists to validate our analyses, etc. He however warns: you cannot expect miracles from these methods. Our biases will never disappear; at best, we can avoid being their consenting victims…