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What Intelligence Tests Miss 2: Dysrationalia


Stanovich lays down some more groundwork and definitions. He defends the coherency of statements along the lines of “he’s so very smart, but acts so stupid.” He takes “smart” in this context to mean what IQ tests measure, a narrower intelligence that covers things like working memory, processing power, etc., and the “stupid” in this context reflecting irrationality- acts that are either no suited to truth seeking behavior, or are not anywhere near optimizing the agent’s utility. For reasons including the colloquial use of the term “intelligent” or “smart,” we have linked rational behavior to what IQ tests measure, which isn’t always a good predictor of good decision making.

Kindle Notes:

Cognitive scientists recognize two types of rationality: instrumental and epistemic. The simplest definition of instrumental rationality-the one that emphasizes most that it is grounded in the practical world-is: Behaving in the world so that you get exactly what you most want, given the resources (physical and mental) available to you (269).

The other aspect of rationality studied by cognitive scientists is termed epistemic rationality. This aspect of rationality concerns how well beliefs map onto the actual structure of the world (275).

Dysrationalia is the inability to think and behave rationally despite adequate intelligence. It is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in belief formation, in the assessment of belief consistency, and/or in the determination of action to achieve one’s goals (294).

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