The Enlightenment Trap




  • The problem is not with humility itself, but with what happens to our minds when we see ourselves as intellectually humble. We call this problem “The Enlightenment Trap,” (View Highlight)
  • In his book “Enlightenment Now,” Stephen Pinker emphasized that the recognition of the fallibility and limits of our perspective was a central feature of the 17th-century enlightenment revolution. (View Highlight)
  • The enlightenment trap is the idea that humility**,** although initially reducing your biases, can trap you into another kind of bias—self-conceit. And while a bit of self-flattery might not be the end of the world, pride and prejudice are connected, as Jane Austin long ago recognized. (View Highlight)
  • The first step in the enlightenment trap is a good step: you begin to recognize just how much you don’t know, and you become more humble. As time goes on, you qualify more of your statements with: “I could be totally wrong about this,” but you also begin to think: “Wow, I am so intellectually humble!” When other people fail to make these admissions of humility, you start to see others as not humble, as flawed thinkers. You (View Highlight)
  • those people who are apparently more humble—and more accepting of other people’s beliefs—may actually be prejudiced against more people. The authors of this paper speculate that the reason intellectually humble people are so prejudiced is because they develop a group identity surrounding their humility, and this leads them to dislike anyone who isn’t in their ingroup— (View Highlight)
  • The enlightenment trap—the tendency to become intolerant toward dogmatic people as one becomes intellectually humble—is easy to fall into, and tough to climb out of (View Highlight)