Temperament is what you’re born with. Character is what life does with temperament.
Things aren’t so clear with intelligence. It’s very likely that one’s maximal “IQ performance” is largely determined by genes and intrauterine environment, but even so we know that IQ measurements increase with test training. More than that, there are lots of smart people who seem unable to reason rationally.
Reason is more than IQ …
- Traditional IQ tests miss some of the most important aspects of real-world intelligence. It is possible to test high in IQ yet to suffer from the logical-thought defect known as dysrationalia.
- One cause of dysrationalia is that people tend to be cognitive misers, meaning that they take the easy way out when trying to solve problems, often leading to solutions that are illogical and wrong.
- Another cause of dysrationalia is the mindware gap, which occurs when people lack the specific knowledge, rules and strategies needed to think rationally.
- Tests do exist that can measure dysrationalia, and they should be given more often to pick up the deficiencies that IQ tests miss.
I’m excited by this analysis. I’d have more to say but the full article isn’t available online yet and I can’t find much extended commentary.
I can note that analyses of errors in reasoning are very old – at least as old as Greek analyses of rhetoric. In the 1970s and 1980s several excellent books on medical reasoning and diagnosis characterized common errors of cognition, and in the early 1990s my CogSci grad coursework plumbed the depths. We’ve developed an extensive language for talking about errors in reasoning.
Even so, this recent article’s explicit study of the persistently dysrational (a better term than “arational” or “dysreasonal”) feels like a useful way to reframe the discussion. From Bush to Rumsfeld to Climate change deniers we’ve seen some fairly smart to brilliant people stuck in dysrational modes. If we can understand what produces dysrationalia, and how to intervene in early life, we may take a big step towards enlightenment 2.0 and rational discourse though not universal agreement.