We need to discard the widely held belief that a high IQ and rationality go hand-in-hand, argues David Robson, author of The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes.
He says while intelligence quotient (IQ) tests have become the benchmark for smarts, they’re highly selective and only measure one’s ability for certain kinds of abstract reasoning.
Worst of all, they say nothing about a person’s common sense.
“When it comes to things like analysing evidence and thinking about it in a fair, even-handed way, or looking at the news and being able to work out what’s true and what’s false, actually IQ is really bad at predicting whether people can do that kind of thing,” Mr Robson tells ABC RN’s Future Tense.
And individuals with a high IQ score are just as vulnerable to cognitive biases as anyone else.
“The most important one for me is this idea of motivated reasoning,” he says.
“If you have a hunch or an intuition that something is right and it fits with your overall worldview, then you will only look for the information that supports that point of view.”
And, according to Mr Robson, when it comes to motivated reasoning, the crucial difference between highly intelligent people and the rest of us is that so-called smart people are simply better at it.
“They have that mental agility that lets them rationalise their points of view in a more convincing way.
“So, what you find is that on certain polarised issues, more intelligent people become even more polarised.”