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What Intelligence Tests Miss 12: A Taxonomy of Irrational Thinking Tendencies


Probably one of the better reference chapters. Stanovich lays out the different types of irrational thinking and their proximate causes and relationships. What he just barely mentioned, that I find amazing, is what is called the “Mr. Spock Problem.” Instead of people taking too the cues of the type 1 thinking too far, some people get no input, or not enough input from type 1 thinking, and their lives suffer because of this. In other words, our emotional brains are a necessary feature of rational thinking. This is totally contrary to how most people seem to think of the issue, and it makes me want to read Descartes’ Error.

This all ties into the main thesis, which is that IQ tests are missing something essential about how minds work. The different errors vary in their association with intelligence. The Spock Problem has no correlation (because it is a problem with the Type 1 mind, not the Type 2), and then certain mindware problems have modest correlations with IQ, since it takes certain education or brain power to learn certain mindware concepts like probability theory.

Kindle Notes:

My notion of focal bias conjoins several current ideas in cognitive science under the overarching theme that they all have in common-that humans will find any way they can to ease the cognitive load and process less information’ (2209).

Focal bias is the basic idea that the information processor is strongly disposed to deal only with the most easily constructed cognitive model (2210).

Other things we think we know about our own minds are wrong. These misconceptions represent contaminated mindware. An example would be the folk belief that we accurately know our own minds. This contaminated mindware accounts for the incorrect belief that we always know the causes of our own actions and think that although others display myside and other thinking biases, we ourselves have special immunity from the very same biases’ (2242).


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