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"Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias—that’s why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes..."

This fallacy is at the heart of the matter. Intelligence and resistance against bias are only loosely correlated. Such resistance comes not from intelligence but from careful study and mental exercise, e.g. looking at various important ethical and philosophical arguments and analyzing them.

This is like saying all large people are strong. There is some dependance but a smaller gym-fly can kick a slacker giant's ass. The sad thing, while it is obvious that you have to exercise your body to be healthy and strong, the fact that the same is quite through fro your brain is often overlooked.




Isn't resistance against bias a very requirement for considering someone intelligent? What exactly is intelligence if not the ability to think clearly?

To me, this looks like a definition game. Smart/stupid is a black & white view of looking at it and hence, misleading. As one overcomes his primitive biases, we call him smart, even though he remains susceptible to other biases.

In other words, people aren't smart or stupid. People's actions are smart or stupid in a particular situation.

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Kahneman divides our thinking into two subsystems: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 thinking is fast, intuitive, unconscious thought. Most everyday activities (like driving, talking, cleaning, etc.) make heavy use of the type 1 system. The type 2 system is slow, calculating, conscious thought. When you're doing a difficult math problem or thinking carefully about a philosophical problem, you're engaging the type 2 system. From Kahneman's perspective, the big difference between type 1 and type 2 thinking is that type 1 is fast and easy but very susceptible to bias, whereas type 2 is slow and requires conscious effort but is much more resistant to cognitive biases.

Traditionally, "intelligence" (as colloquially defined) has correlated with type 2 thinking. So, a reasonable conjecture would be that people who are better at type 2 thinking would use it more and, therefore be less vulnerable to bias. However, this research shows that even those who are very good at type 2 thinking (as measured by their SAT scores and NCS scores) are even more vulnerable to cognitive biases. This is a deeply counter-intuitive result. Why is it that people who have a greater capacity to overcome bias have a greater vulnerability to bias?

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> Why is it that people who have a greater capacity to overcome bias have a greater vulnerability to bias?

Overconfidence. If you've become accustomed to thinking of yourself as being better able to avoid cognitive bias, you come to be confident in your abilities, to the point where you (perhaps unconsciously) think of yourself as not susceptible to biases.

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That's certainly one possible explanation. Another possible explanation is that their brains are just faster in general, so that even though their type 2 systems are faster than others', their type 1 systems are faster yet and manage to override even more consistently than in others. In any case, I don't think it's something that's "obvious" or "expected" by any means, and I do think that it should bear further investigation.

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> Why is it that people who have a greater capacity to overcome bias have a greater vulnerability to bias?

Why do you assume that type 2 people have greater capacity to overcome bias?

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I think the parent comment uses the term "intelligence" to describe a very different concept than what you have in mind. It probably has to do with high IQ, long and short term memory, problem solving skills, etc.

As a matter of fact, it would be worthwhile to avoid using the term "intelligence" in this discussion altogether. Please read this reference to understand why: http://lesswrong.com/lw/nu/taboo_your_words/

The whole point is that people assume that "problem solving" and "memory" skills automatically protect you against bias. This assumption is false, since "bias prevention" is a different kind of cognitive skill that must be practiced and developed independently.

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Agreed. Thinking intelligent people can better resist biases makes as much sense as saying that handsome people can. In both cases the halo effect is at work.

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If you take out resistance against bias off it, what exactly do you mean by "intelligence" ?

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Intelligence and bias resistance are at least both cognitive traits.

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> Intelligence and resistance against bias are only loosely correlated

Have you read the article (rather than skimming)? It says exactly the opposite.

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