Sometimes you read (or listen to) books that you wish were required reading in high school because they should be required reading for the whole human race … and then you realize that in high school you’re limited to textbooks and literature and you get annoyed that the categories of study are so narrow.
I’m not sure what category of non-fiction the Intelligence Trap should be inserted into, but I do think everyone should read it. Especially people who consider themselves smart.
The Intelligence Trap is a healthy reminder to those of us who use The Dunning Krueger Effect as a punchline. Yes, I’m guilty. (For those who don’t know, the Dunning Krueger Effect is how the incompetent and unknowledgeable tend to overestimate their competence and knowledge. It’s often used to make fun of people less gifted on the IQ spectrum.)
Much fewer people know about the Curse of Expertise and how experts, when faced with a challenge in their field, still manage to royally Fuck Things Up. The Intelligence Trap explains the neuroscience behind the cognitive blind spots of those with high IQ–and how devastating the blindness can be for them, and the human race.
The book introduces concepts like “Faschidiots,” people who have no knowledge outside a particular field (thank you, Germans for that word), and the bandwagon affect. It discusses Functional Stupidity, group think, motivated reasoning, and emotional reasoning–all of which can blindside high IQ people even more severely than the less intellectually gifted, perhaps because their high IQ makes them think they are immune. All of these concepts are discussed with illuminating anecdotes, which aren’t proof–but make the concepts much easier to remember.
Best of all, the books teaches strategies for how individuals can get out themselves out of intellectual ruts. It also describes how organizations can set up processes that will shield them from group think, functional stupidity, and band wagon thinking.
I highly recommend it.
As a side note … Other books I wish more people would read (or listen to–it’s a great way to get your steps in) are: Free Speech a History From Socrates to Social Media by Jacob McHangama (For my review of Free Speech and a defense of Flat Earthers click here). Also, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed is also another fantastic read. I could best break Seeing down as “How central planning fails.” but that makes it come off as a diatribe against collectivist states, ignoring how much Western governments and supposedly “free market” economies have dismal records with “central planning” schemes–and how often they try to impose them.