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Hubris as unbridled intuition Guy Claxton Centre for Real-World Learning University of Winchester.

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Presentation on theme: "Hubris as unbridled intuition Guy Claxton Centre for Real-World Learning University of Winchester."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hubris as unbridled intuition Guy Claxton Centre for Real-World Learning University of Winchester

2 Intelligence The old view – 2 (or 3) antagonists – Cool reason trumps emotion/impulse/intuition The new view – several complements – Interlocking and mutually-correcting modes Cope – impulsive; rapid response; neural flow Check – analytical, evaluative; conscious deliberation Mull – contemplative, reflective, receptive – ‘default network’; connection with basic values Chat – discursive; debate; public testing

3 Stupidity Each of these alone is capable of error and/or misapplication Intelligence requires timing, prioritisation and integration of the ‘combo’ – E.g. the phases of creativity

4 A girdle round the earth C = 2∏R 2∏(R+r) = 2∏R + 200cm 2∏r = 200cm r = 32cm = 1 foot


6 IQ and articulacy IQ does not correlate with real-world complex activity (e.g. bookies)! IQ predicts number of my-side arguments, not quality! Medical students’ grades do not predict clinical judgement! Ethical textbooks get stolen most! Moral reasoning does not predict anti-social behaviour !

7 Bonnie’s father has five daughters. Four of them are named Chacha, Cheche, Chichi and Chocho. What is the name of the fifth?




11 Varieties of stupidity We can – Cope impulsively Decide prematurely – Check narrowly Decide egotistically – Mull excessively – Chat collusively

12 Checking the Feeling of Rightness Each mode summates in a ‘feeling of rightness’ (FR) Normally, in important decisions, FR is tempered by the interaction of the different modes – Submitted to longer, multifaceted scrutiny – Held back while private and public appraisal takes place In Hubris Syndrome, FR self-strengthens, unchecked – Neurological switching mechanisms (cumulative inhibition) do not activate age, stress, power – Self-checking fails to occur – Get over-reliant on one mode

13 Aggrandisement At the same time, FR may become generalised, no longer attached to particular intuitions, but becomes construed as a trait of the actor: infallibility – Not ‘It feels right’ but ‘I feel right’

14 Rationalisation Check mode becomes misapplied and misappropriated. Argument does not critique FR; it justifies it The Check system is recruited to protect the FR

15 Isolation Chat mode is also abused. Instead of being tested in debate, public discussion is pre- orchestrated and packed with Yes people Dissenters are seen as ‘disloyal’: sacked or sidelined (.e.g. RBS) Dossiers are ‘sexed up’; evidence rigged Unbridled FR justifies Machiavellianism

16 Concealment Some followers are drawn to Messianic leadership – lower education, some religions Others dislike it, so… – FR becomes concealed under a cloak of humility – Concealment may take the form of projection of the FR onto an external agency (e.g. ‘I am just doing God’s work’) – This ‘humility’ and hubris often co-exist

17 Solutions Neuropsychological solutions? – Regular testing of pre-frontal cortical functioning – Acetylcholine / catecholamine boosters… Social solutions? – Institutionalised checks and balances; independent arbiters (with teeth); compulsory Fools Educational solutions? – Amore intelligent approach to the cultivation of intelligence

18 Thank you

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