• The Intelligence Trap

  • Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes
  • By: David Robson
  • Narrated by: Simon Slater
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (176 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An eye-opening examination of the stupid things smart people do - and how to cultivate skills to protect ourselves from error.

"As a rule, I have found that the greater brain a man has, and the better he is educated, the easier it has been to mystify him" (Harry Houdini to Arthur Conan Doyle). 

Smart people are not only just as prone to making mistakes as everyone else - they may be even more susceptible to them. This is the "intelligence trap", the subject of David Robson's fascinating and provocative book. 

The Intelligence Trap explores cutting-edge ideas in our understanding of intelligence and expertise, including "strategic ignorance", "meta-forgetfulness", and "functional stupidity." 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.

©2019 David Robson (P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

What listeners say about The Intelligence Trap

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed the narration...

I really enjoyed the narration and the author lists a history of smart people who were wrong on important issues which impacted their credibility.
The author falls short though, as after he explains how majority opinion is often shown to be incorrect correct over time, he then points to current group think topics and how ignorant those are that have different views. He falls for the same academic bullying he previously called out.

3 people found this helpful

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But really, what IS smart?

(As posted in GoodReads)
It points out the fact that there are different aspects of and kinds of "smartness", and the fact that individually they DON'T necessarily preclude dumb actions or ideas or the commission of "dumb things". It specifically mentions some well-known idiotic actions and beliefs of people who are generally considered smart but aren't "above" dwelling on their own individual concern regardless of their knowledge or background (to me the most obvious example it is the Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling who decided to push vitamin C as a cure-all – including being a cure for cancer, despite the fact that that was not even vaguely related to his celebrated research. (I believe he ended up dying of cancer…)
Anyway, there is a difference between being "smart" and being able to demonstrate proficiency in absolutely everything that you address. Only one of those is conceivable, but I'm getting off point. The point is, WHY smart people do dumb things, and the book suggests several reasons. Primarily, it's important to refine our meaning of smart.
I found the last two chapters that old and long, and I need to skim the end, but overall good things and techniques were examined.

1 person found this helpful

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We’re all More Biased than we Think

While there is a lot of helpful information in this book, I found the execution to be a bit ironic. The author offers several helpful tips into “practical wisdom”, repeatedly encouraging listeners to avoid using bias, being willing to frequently challenge their assumptions, etc. However, his underlying bias becomes quickly and unabashedly apparent.

I found myself checking out occasionally as he lectures us against the dangers of dogmatism, then turns around and expects his listeners to accept various positions as fact. Regardless of what the author’s bias may be, the book loses much of its impact due to these repeated dogmatic statements. I think it’s still worth a listen, but it’s helpful to have this in mind before you commit several hours.

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One of the best books I've ever read.

It would be great if everyone would read this book. No matter how smart we think we are, we are prone to make errors in our thinking. This book explains how and these errors occur and gives tools to spot them and help to avoid them.

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One of the best books I’ve ever listened to or read

This book covers a multitude of topics surrounding intelligence, the mind, curiosity, misinformation, education, team building and even more. Not only does it go deeply into these topics but it also provides clear actionable advise for how you can prevent the negative effects and pitfalls of the intelligence trap, while encouraging a growth mindset. If that wasn’t enough, the narration of Simon Slater is wonderful!

I found this book so good, I bought the physical copy to take notes in.

I can’t recommend it enough.

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Learned a ton about learning in context of culture

Loved the book and the narrator. So many useful new concepts how to look at the world around me, our brains, our interactions and the various approaches to learning itself. Wish I had read this as a younger person. Going to recommend it to my nephews.

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interesting book I enjoyed it very much.

voice writing this book was pretty good British accent. There's a lot of information here, a good amount of it people will have at least heard of. It goes through several examples and logical explains how they're relevant. The first part of the book revolves around the individual and last part is mostly about organizations and groups of people. Overall I really enjoyed the book, it is one of the few books which I have rated at five stars.

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Good listen

This book is a good eye opener to remind us about how we get comfortable and make mistakes. Also how crazy some of the best scientists thought outside their field of expertise. I think this is a great book for ceo's and team members in leadership.

1 person found this helpful