Why Smart People Can Be so Dumb

New psychological research shows that people who perform well on intelligence tests are also more likely to give wrong answers on simple questions that test for an awareness of bias. 

What's the Latest Development?


Answer this simple question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? Most people quickly answer "ten cents," but the correct answer is "five cents." These kinds of small mistakes are due to shortcuts our brains take, preferring lazy, intuitive responses to laborious, arithmetic ones. Surprisingly, intelligent people seem to make these mistakes more easily, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers reached that conclusion by observing a positive correlation between performance on standardized intelligence tests, like the SAT, and rates of incorrect answers given to questions like the bat-and-ball one above.

What's the Big Idea?

While it makes intuitive sense that receiving a better education would remedy these kinds of errors, psychological studies have found that "more than fifty per cent of students at Harvard, Princeton, and M.I.T. gave the incorrect answer to the bat-and-ball question." The reason? Such questions test our awareness of bias, which is easy to spot in others but more difficult to see in ourselves because the error is unconscious. "In fact, introspection can actually compound the error, blinding us to those primal processes responsible for many of our everyday failings. ... The more we attempt to know ourselves, the less we actually understand."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less