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Why Smart People Are Stupid

Mental shortcuts

We’re not nearly as rational as we like to believe. When we face an uncertain situation, we fail to evaluate the information or to look up relevant statistics carefully.
Instead, we depend on our mental shortcuts which may lead us to make rash decisions.

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Why Smart People Are Stupid

Why Smart People Are Stupid

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/frontal-cortex/why-smart-people-are-stupid

newyorker.com

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Key Ideas

Smart people and biases

We often assume that intelligence guards against bias. Its why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less likely to make universal thinking mistakes.

However, smarter people are more vulnerable to these thinking errors.

Biases and human intelligence

  • People who are aware of their own biases are not better able to overcome them. Our intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy.
  • According to scientists, intelligent people have a larger bias blind spot. They can spot systematic flaws in others, but not in themselves. They will excuse their own minds but harshly judge the minds of other people. 

The root causes of our irrationality

When we assess ourselves for biases, we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. The problem with the introspection approach is that the driving forces behind biases remain largely invisible to self-analysis and t is also impermeable to intelligence.

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... specifically cognitive biases, are your unchecked tendencies to make decisions or take actions in an irrational way. 

Instead of making decisions based on facts and data, you ...

Biases = shortcuts for processing information

The brain creates shortcuts in order to make fast decisions when it hits information or inspiration overload

These shortcuts form unconscious biases so it’s easier for your brain to categorize information and make quick judgments over and over again.

Self-serving Bias
It causes you to claim your successes and ignore your failures. 

This means that when something good happens, you take the credit, but when something bad happens, you blame it on external factors.

Self-serving bias may manifest at work when you receive critical feedback. Instead of keeping an open mind, you may put up a defense when your manager or team member is sharing feedback or constructive criticism.

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Distinction bias

Is the tendency to over-value the effect of small quantitative differences when comparing options.

For example: we think a 1,200 square foot home will make us happier than a 1,000 squa...

Overcome distinction bias

  • Don’t compare options side by side: In comparison mode, we end up spending too much time playing “spot the difference.” Instead, evaluate each choice individually and on their own merit.
  • Know your “Must-Haves” before you look for something to buy: that way, you won't get suckered into features you don’t really need.
  • Optimize for things you can’t get used to: your happiness will adjust back to anything that is stable and certain like your income, the size of your house, or the quality of your TV.

Common errors when reading people
  • Ignoring context: Crossed arms don’t mean much if the room is cold or the chair they’re sitting in doesn’t have armrests. 
  • Not looking for clusters: It’s a consisten...
Trusting your instincts

Your first impressions are usually pretty accurate. But whether they are wrong or right, first impressions affect us in a big way and we are slow to change them.

You have to be willing to update them quite rapidly. 

Reading first impressions
  • Studies show that if someone seems extroverted, confident, religious or conscientious, they probably are.
  • We all pay more attention to pretty people, and so we tend to take the time to evaluate them.
  • If you want to know if someone is good at their job, watch them do it for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Funny people are smart: Effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans.

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