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Science

Why Smart People Are Stupid 337

Posted by Soulskill
from the gotta-be-the-shoes dept.
nicholast writes "There's a good piece by Jonah Lehrer at the New Yorker about why smart people are often more likely to make cognitive errors than stupid people. The article examines research about the shortcuts that our brains take while answering questions, and explains why even the smartest people take these shortcuts too. Quoting: 'One provocative hypothesis is that the bias blind spot arises because of a mismatch between how we evaluate others and how we evaluate ourselves. When considering the irrational choices of a stranger, for instance, we are forced to rely on behavioral information; we see their biases from the outside, which allows us to glimpse their systematic thinking errors. However, when assessing our own bad choices, we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. We scrutinize our motivations and search for relevant reasons; we lament our mistakes to therapists and ruminate on the beliefs that led us astray. The problem with this introspective approach is that the driving forces behind biases—the root causes of our irrationality—are largely unconscious, which means they remain invisible to self-analysis and impermeable to intelligence. In fact, introspection can actually compound the error, blinding us to those primal processes responsible for many of our everyday failings.'"
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Why Smart People Are Stupid

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  • Makes sense (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @06:28PM (#40302703)

    The article examines research about the shortcuts that our brains take while answering questions, and explains why even the smartest people take these shortcuts too.

    Because without taking shortcuts those very smart people wouldn't be able to achieve their goal of getting first post.

  • by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @06:32PM (#40302753)
    yo dawg

    i heard you like to overthink shit
    so i overthought the shit you're overthinking
    so you can overthink shit
    while i overthink you overthinking the shit you're overthinking

    i must be stupid (as in smart, not smart as in stupid) because i got those little word problems correct. the lily pad example was really easy.
  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @06:52PM (#40302941) Homepage

    Hereâ(TM)s a simple arithmetic 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?

    The vast majority of people respond quickly and confidently, insisting the ball costs ten cents. This answer is both obvious and wrong. (The correct answer is five cents for the ball and a dollar and five cents for the bat.)

    Why on earth would you ever think that it was 10 cents for the ball and a dollar for the bat? You'd have to be stupid, or something.

    In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

    Your first response is probably to take a shortcut, and to divide the final answer by half. That leads you to twenty-four days. But thatâ(TM)s wrong. The correct solution is forty-seven days.

    What the fuck? Do I need to to take a dope test or something? Why the hell would you think I'd "take a shortcut" and divide the answer by two? Fuck's sake, the clue is right there! IT DOUBLES IN SIZE EVERY DAY! So it's twice as big today as it was yesterday, so if it fills the lake in 48 days it half-fills it in 47 days. Jeez, how the hell can you even think people would say 24 days? Is there something wrong with your brain?

    Also, what the hell kind of lilies grow in your lake, that they crowd the whole damn thing out in a month and a half? Don't you ever rake them back and dredge it? Your fish are going to suffer from lack of light and oxygen with all that crap in there.

    Ghod pop-psychologists make my piss boil.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @07:10PM (#40303117) Journal

    Also, what the hell kind of lilies grow in your lake, that they crowd the whole damn thing out in a month and a half? Don't you ever rake them back and dredge it?

    If they grow that fast, dredging is the least of your worries. In another 48 days, they'll have covered the entire earth. Oh, and if you leave even a single lily cell behind, they'll have covered the earth AGAIN in another 90 days or so. You're basically doomed.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by pitchpipe (708843) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @07:11PM (#40303121)

    The best way to avoid making mistakes is not doing anything at all.

    A guy at my work has a good safety slogan: Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @07:29PM (#40303271)

    A guy at my work has a good safety slogan: Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt.

    You work in a bank or post office?

  • by mevets (322601) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @07:34PM (#40303333)

    Its not that conservatives are generally stupid, it is that the stupid people are generally conservative. It is the base of support they lean upon.

    Apologies to JSMill for the poor paraphrase.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by reboot246 (623534) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:27PM (#40303767) Homepage
    My guess would be that he works at the DMV.
  • by jaymzter (452402) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:37PM (#40305227) Homepage

    I agree. It's like how economists are always so shocked that girls with the least principle always seem to draw the most interest.

  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @04:56AM (#40306703)
    And what about your pride about not littering your Slashdot posts with strange bird droppings (â)?
  • GM Lilies! (Score:4, Funny)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @09:26AM (#40308691)

    Personally as a member of the human race I think that would be a fairly ignominious way to die off.

    Alien Teacher: You see in this example the race of "Humans" actually managed to kill themselves off by creating a common "lily pad" (similar to our Xanopods here on Trellic) that reproduced much too quickly. It quickly choked out all food supplies and eventually the Humans themselves.
    Alien Kid: But teacher, that is stupid why would they do that?
    Alien Teacher: Because class, sometimes even very smart people can be stupid when they take cognitive shortcuts. OK class that is all for today, dismissed!

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