The Intelligence Trap

“Startling, provocative and potently useful” – James McConnachie, Sunday Times

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

“Compelling, wide-ranging” – Jenni Russell, The Times

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


‘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,’ 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 avoid mistakes and protect ourselves from misinformation and fake news.

An Evening Standard instant best-seller. Extracts and interviews featured in The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, New Scientist,  Psychology Today, Business Standard and La Stampa. Hear in-depth radio interviews on ABC All in the Mind and ABC Nightlife and Radiolab.

Published in the UK and Commonwealth in March 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton:
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To be published in the US on 6 August 2019 by WW Norton.
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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