When it comes to group activities — projects that require teams of people to work on a series of concrete tasks to reach a tangible goal — what do you think is the most important quality that group members should possess? Should they be smart? Should they be assertive? Should they nominate a leader or divide into pairs?

This is the question that psychologist Christopher Chabris has been pondering for several years now. He believes the answer is collective intelligence.

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Fearing that new technology will lead to lazy thinking is an old concern, one that goes back at least as far as Socrates who was certain that scrolls would make people dumb because they would grow to depend on “external written characters” instead of memorization. Just about every new technology and medium has been vilified at some point by that era’s luddites as finally being the end of deep thinking and the beginning of idiocracy. It never happens, of course, and I doubt it ever will.

The facts don’t speak for themselves. Someone always speaks for them.

From the opioid crisis to vaccines, vitamin and health supplements to climate change — even the widespread use of lobotomies to quiet problem mental patients — celebrity scientists and charismatic doctors have made tremendous mistakes. Thanks to their fame, they escaped the corrective mechanisms of science itself and spread their wrongness far and wide. Science always deals the problem. The truth wins. But before it does, many people can be harmed, and society can suffer.

Parker Wiseman ran for student office in high school with photocopied flyers. He debated the public school system in social studies class. In college he took the courses and shook the hands that would help him join that peculiar Southern subculture of the embattled Mississippi Democrat, a pugnacious sort who plays darts and drinks whiskey while wearing penny loafers and forces smiles meant to fool no one. People close to Parker Wiseman were not surprised when, at the age of 28, he became the youngest mayor in Starkville history.

In this episode, psychologist Per Espen Stoknes discusses his book: What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming.

In it, he describes the method he has developed for science communicators who find themselves confronted with climate change deniers who aren’t swayed by facts and charts. His book presents a series of psychology-based steps designed to painlessly change people’s minds and avoid the common mistakes scientists tend to make when explaining climate change to laypeople.

When you think about your future health, career, finances, and even longevity — you imagine a rosy, hopeful future. For everyone else, though, you tend to be far more realistic.

In other words, if you are a smoker, everyone else is going to get cancer. You’ll probably be in the that lucky portion who smokes into your 90s, or so you think. Similarly, the odds of success for a new restaurant change depending on who starts that venture. If its you, the odds are pretty good. If it is someone else, you see the odds as pretty bad.