The Intelligence Trap

My new book, The Intelligence Trap,  examines the reasons intelligent and educated people make stupid mistakes. It was three years in the making as I interviewed the world’s experts about the reasons that great brainpower can somehow backfire, and the ways we can sidestep those cognitive pitfalls. The UK paperback is out now. You can buy the US edition here.

One of the Sunday Times 100 Best Summer Reads of 2019, and selected by J.P. Morgan as one of seven titles on their ‘Next List’ of recommended reading for 2020.

An Editor’s Pick Best Non-Fiction.

“We need to find new and better ways to teach critical thinking and measure good judgment. Reading David Robson’s book would be a good place to start” – Wall Street Journal

“Startling, provocative and potently useful” – Sunday Times

“Impressively accessible, with engaging storytelling, depth of discussion, and counterintuitive conclusions that are sure to engage the reader’s capacity for critical thought and intelligent decision-making” – Science

“[A] welcome debut… An engrossing standout in the thinking genre that will appeal to anyone who has ever been wrongheaded”Kirkus (starred review)

“An elegant survey of current thinking about thinking, and how best to do it without pride, prejudice, or arrogance” – Mail on Sunday

How was a brilliant physics professor tricked into carrying 2kg of cocaine across the Argentinian border? Why do doctors misdiagnose 10 to 15% of their patients? Why do Nobel Prize winners spread fake news?

We assume that smarter people are less prone to error. But greater education and expertise can often amplify our mistakes while rendering us blind to our biases. This is the ‘intelligence trap’.

Drawing on the latest behavioural science and historical examples from Socrates to Benjamin Franklin, David Robson demonstrates how to apply our intelligence more wisely; identify bias and enhance our ‘rationality quotient’; read and regulate our emotions; fine-tune our intuition; navigate ambiguity and uncertainty; and think more flexibly about seemingly intractable problems.

The twenty-first century presents us with complex problems that demand a wiser way of thinking. Whether you are a NASA scientist or a school student, The Intelligence Trap offers a new cognitive toolkit to realise your full potential.

An Evening Standard instant best-seller. Extracts, interviews and articles about The Intelligence Trap have featured in The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The BBC, CNN, New Scientist, Psychology Today, Business Standard, Popular Science, strategy+business, El Mundo & La Stampa.

Hear in-depth radio and podcast interviews on ABC All in the Mind and ABC Nightlife, BBC’s Beyond Today, Radiolab, Curious Minds, Adam Connover’s Factually and Slate’s The Gist.

Published in the UK and Commonwealth in March 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton.
Amazon | Waterstones | Foyles | WH Smith | Blackwells

Published in the US and Canada in August 2019 by WW Norton.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Books-A-Million | Google Play | Indiebound

(If you have already bought The Intelligence Trap, please do leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads etc – it really does mean a lot to authors.)

Brilliant. The Intelligence Trap combines mesmerizing storytelling with groundbreaking new research about why having a high IQ can backfire. Essential reading for anyone who wants to think more clearly.”
Rolf Dobelli, author of The Art of Thinking Clearly

“I loved The Intelligence Trap. As fun to read as it is fascinating, it celebrates the power of humility and curiosity. Everyone, especially intelligent people, should read this brilliant and important book.”
Anna Rosling Rönnlund, coauthor of Factfulness

The Intelligence Trap is a ceaselessly fascinating book written by one of our most consistently superb science writers. Its counter-intuitive argument, that intelligence is no inoculation against wrongness, explains so much about the fractious and baffling times in which we live.”
Will Storr, author of Selfie

“A fascinating and enjoyable investigation of what intelligence is and isn’t, by one of the most exciting new voices in science writing. This thought-provoking and brilliantly researched guide to achieving true wisdom shows us how to be smarter―and how to protect ourselves from the cleverest fools.”
Gaia Vince, author of Adventures in the Anthropocene

“Compelling, wide-ranging” – The Times

“The author has a rare talent of presenting factual information in the style of a light-hearted novel” – The Psychologist

“Highly readable. . . [The Intelligence Trap] strikes the right balance between illustrative vignettes and accessible translations of complex research, delivering a smart look at intellect and its shortcomings”Publishers Weekly

“A superb study of why smart people do stupid things” – Sunday Business Post