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Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests

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Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests

Postby really? » 28 Jul 2010, 20:59

By Keith E. Stanovich

We assume intelligence and rationality go together. But we shouldn't be surprised when smart people do foolish things.

Key Concepts

* Traditional IQ tests miss some of the most important aspects of real-world intelligence. It is possible to test high in IQ yet to suffer from the logical-thought defect known as dysrationalia.
* One cause of dysrationalia is that people tend to be cognitive misers, meaning that they take the easy way out when trying to solve problems, often leading to solutions that are illogical and wrong.
* Another cause of dysrationalia is the mindware gap, which occurs when people lack the specific knowledge, rules and strategies needed to think rationally.
* Tests do exist that can measure dysrationalia, and they should be given more often to pick up the deficiencies that IQ tests miss.

No doubt you know several folks with perfectly respectable IQs who just don’t seem all that sharp. The behavior of such people tells us that we are missing something important by treating intelligence as if it encompassed all cognitive abilities. I coined the term “dysrationalia” (analogous to “dyslexia”), meaning the inability to think and behave rationally despite having adequate intelligence, to draw attention to a large domain of cognitive life that intelligence tests fail to assess. Although most people recognize that IQ tests do not measure important mental faculties, we behave as if they do. We have an implicit assumption that intelligence and rationality go together—or else why would we be so surprised when smart people do foolish things?

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