Interview with Keith Stanovich

By Coert Visser (2009)

Dr. Keith Stanovich, Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology of the University of Toronto, is a leading expert on the psychology of reading and on rationality. His latest book, What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought, shows that IQ tests are very incomplete measures of cognitive functioning. These tests fail to assess rational thinking styles and skills which are nevertheless crucial to real-world behavior. In this interview with Keith Stanovich he explains the difference between IQ and rationality and why rationality is so important. Also he shares his views on how rationality can be enhanced.

In your book, you say that IQ tests are incomplete measures of cognitive functioning. Could you explain that?

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paolo Terni said...

Thanks for posting this!
Plenty of reading for tomorrow!!

Coert Visser said...

thanks paolo, hope you'll like it

Anonymous said...

Great interview and very important subject! What do you think are the causes for persistent or growing irrationality, even in the most advanced societies? Education, democracy and scientific progress should have led to the pursuit, practice and admiration of high rationality. As your interview reveals, that is not the case.

Education, for instance, by focusing on providing primarily information, a career path and, in the US, self-confidence and "feeling good", does not build a foundation of rationality and we notice the consequences, as mentioned in the interview. Education should focus on building knowledge, including how knowledge is created and validated, on the capacity to reason and think critically. Logic, epistemology, philosophy, mathematics and science should be mandatory subjects at secondary level.

Is democracy expanding rationality beyond the highly educated elites or diminishing it? I do not have an answer and I do not post the question our of any questioning of democracy, to which I am completely dedicated, but out of concern that the way we are molding our contemporary democracies diminishes rationality and that is a matter of serious societal consequences.

Silvia Leahu-Aluas

Coert Visser said...

Hi Silvia, I think it would be hard to determine what caused it. I think there could be many candidates for root causes. But also I doubt whether we do really need to know what caused it. I do think there are clear clues as to what we can do about it. The way we raise kids seems an important key (see for instance: ). Another one is teaching kids rationality skills in schools, including ways to guard against contaminated mindware. And we could also improve different (more balanced) types of systems aimed at selecting and developing employees. These are just a few directions.
Thanks for your interesting comments! I'd be interested to hear more of your ideas about how rationality can become more widespread.

kind regards,

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