Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid

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Robert J. Sternberg
Yale University Press, Oct 1, 2008 - Psychology - 272 pages
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One need not look far to find breathtaking acts of stupidity committed by people who are smart, or even brilliant. The behavior of smart individuals—from presidents to prosecutors to professors—is at times so amazingly stupid as to seem inexplicable. Why do otherwise intelligent people think and behave in ways so stupid that they sometimes destroy their livelihoods or even their lives?
This book is the first devoted to investigating what the most current psychological research can tell us about stupidity in everyday life. The contributors to the volume, renowned scholars in various areas of human intelligence, present fascinating examples of people messing up their lives, and they offer insights into the reasons for such behavior. From a variety of perspectives, the contributors discuss:
• The nature and theory of stupidity
• How stupidity contributes to stupid behavior
• Whether stupidity is measurable
While many millions of dollars are spent each year on intelligence research and testing to determine who has the ability to succeed, next to nothing is spent to determine who will make use of their intelligence and not squander it by behaving stupidly. Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid focuses on the neglected side of this discussion, reviewing the full range of theory and research on stupid behavior and analyzing what it tells us about how people can avoid stupidity and its devastating consequences.

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Very good. Each chapter should be studied independently, notes taken, and lessons extracted to make our lives less stupid. Well, as far as they can be. Read full review


1 Why and When Are Smart People Stupid? Ray Hyman
2 Beliefs That Make Smart People Dumb Carol S Dweck
The Case of Managerial Incompetence Richard K Wagner
4 The Engine of Folly David N Perkins
Reconciling Inconsistencies in SocialEmotional Intelligence Ozlem Ayduk and Walter Mischel
The ClintonLewinsky Scandal Diane F Halpern
Is Dysrationalia Possible? Keith E Stanovich
Exploring Bases of Erroneous Reasoning of Smart People Regarding Learning and Other Disabilities Elena L Grigorenko and Donna Lockery
9 Personality Dispositions Elizabeth J Austin and Ian J Deary
Mindlessness and the Attribution of Stupidity Mihnea Moldoveanu and Ellen Langer
The Imbalance Theory of Foolishness Robert J Sternberg
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