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What Intelligence Tests Miss 13: The Social Benefits of Increasing Human Rationality


Why be rational? There’s a lot of stuff similar to the libertarian paternalism pushed by Thaler and Sunstein in Nudge. If rationality can really be defined (in part) as accomplishing your most desired goals, how can there not be benefits? The epistemic rationality part is a little more difficult to make a full case for, but overall I think few would object that it’s generally better to believe more accurately than not.

Kindle Notes:

Popular books tell parents how to raise more intelligent children, educational psychology textbooks discuss the raising of students’ intelligence, and we feel reassured when hearing that a particular disability does not impair intelligence. There is no corresponding concern on the part of parents that their children grow into rational beings, no corresponding concern on the part of schools that their students reason judiciously, and no corresponding recognition that intelligence is useless to a child unable to adapt to the world (2435).

Although there are no precise quantitative studies of the issue, it would appear that the propensity for rational thinking is at least as malleable as intelligence (2495).

To summarize the individual differences research, intelligence differences in myside bias in the Ford Explorer-type problem are virtually nonexistent (Stanovich and West, 2007, 2008a). In the argument generation paradigms, they are also nonexistent (Macpherson and Stanovich, 2007; Toplak and Stanovich, 2003) (2897).

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