The Intelligence Trap

Covers of The Intelligence Trap/La Trampa de la Inteligencia

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.

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

“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

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

‘As a rule, I have found that the greater brain a man has, and the better he is educated, the easier it has been to mystify him,’ wrote Houdini to Arthur Conan Doyle

Smart people are not only just as prone to making mistakes as everyone else-they may be even more susceptible to them. This is the “intelligence trap”.

Packed with cutting-edge research, historical case studies, entertaining stories, and practical advice, The Intelligence Trap explores the flaws in our understanding of intelligence and expertise, and reveals the ways that even the brightest minds and talented organizations can backfire – from some of Thomas Edison’s worst ideas to failures at NASA, Nokia, and the FBI. Featuring timeless lessons from Socrates to Benjamin Franklin to Richard Feynman and the latest behavioral science, The Intelligence Trap shows how to build a cognitive toolkit to improve our decision making, supercharge our memory and learning, boost our productivity and protect ourselves from misinformation and fake news.

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 | Heffers | 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

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

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

“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