Science Says “Smart People Are Idiots”

Right off the bat, congratulations on being in the top eighty percentile. We can read, and that puts us well ahead of the seven hundred million adults that can’t (I know the pictures are pretty, but focus. Focus!). Let’s bump us up a few more pegs for knowing what a percentile is as well. You’re smart; you know it; and I’m so so sorry… turns out this is bad news. Smart people are idiots.

Don’t panic!!! You’re obviously one of the exceptions. For God’s sake, quit panicking. Quick mental test:

In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

You said 24, right? Good, that means you’re smart. Unfortunately, the right answer was 47. I’m afraid you may be suffering from a condition called smart-idiot-itis, an affliction on the rise amongst intellectuals. See, because you’re smart, your brain immediately heard “half” and “48” and karate-chopped out a quick 24. Oops, this mental shortcut is called dysrationalia. Dysrationalia afflicts 100% of people who, when asked the question “how much dirt is in a hole 6 ft. by 3 ft. by 9 ft?” answer anything but zero, zero dirt (There’s no dirt in a hole, silly). Dysrationalia is the leading cause of smart-idiot-itis.

Don’t take my word for it. According to a long string of individuals with PhD’s, MBA’s, and various other impressive acronyms, “smart people are stupid.” The idea they present about our educational system can be summed up nicely in this quote by one of the said intellectuals (Michael Sherman):

Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.

Essentially, smart people are used to being smart people, so they assume they’re right, because usually they are, even when they aren’t, right that is. Wow, that’d make more sense if I was one of those smart people, but if I were, it’d be wrong apparently. Thank you, brain.

It seems to boil down to something called the bias blind spot. Everyone is biased, and everyone who is biased believes they are not. This is why it’s so obvious when someone else is doing something stupid, but our own dumb actions confound us. Since we’re stuck in our own heads, when we put our briefcase in the dishwasher last week, or tied our shoes and completely forgot we’re not wearing pants yet, we don’t see ourselves as the bumbling morons we all are from time to time. It’s because of the cloud of justifications and excuses always swirling around our heads.

Sorry to say it, but being aware of this makes no difference, apparently. Currently, medical science has no cure for smart-idiot-itis, short of a lobotomy. As research into this horrible affliction progresses, should a cure be found, how could we ever trust these brainy buffoons anyway?

For more information on this disease, see Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” If you think you may have smart-idiot-itis, seek medical attention immediately, and cross fingers that your doctor didn’t nail his hand to his refrigerator for no apparent reason.

 

Sources:

Literacy Rate (worldbank.org)

Why Smart People are Stupid (The New Yorker)

Rational and Irrational Thoughts (Scientific American) 

Dysrationalia: Defects in Real-World Intelligence (Talent Develop Resources)

Why People Believe Weird Things (Michael Shermer)

We Struggle With Objectivity: The Bias Blind Spot (Psychology Today)

Cognitive Sophistication Does Not Attenuate the Bias Blind Spot (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Thinking, Fast and Slow

20 thoughts on “Science Says “Smart People Are Idiots”

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  3. This is related to Cognitive dissonance. People who were well educated
    see themselves as intelligent and were indoctrinated in college in
    liberalism or other beliefs. When these people are confronted with something contrary to those beliefs, no matter how many facts are shown, will experience psychological discomfort and simply attack those offering another version, to ease the discomfort and reduce the dissonance.

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  4. I call this condition educationitis Jesse. Most people don’t realise even when y’go t’university most o’ the time y’not bein’ programmed t’think but just t’think in certain approved ways.

    One university lecturer we had if we submitted anythin’ he’d already told us or’d read someplace else’d mark us down harshly but whenever any of us showed signs we’d been doin’ some actual independent thinkin’ of our own’d mark us up very highly.

    Compare him though to another lecturer who used t’harsh mark some really quite brilliant stuff if he so much as found a single sentence beginnin’ ‘Because…’ or ‘However…’

    Newton though seems to’ve spent most of his university days takin’ sickies an’ Darwin simply skipped most lessons t’go huntin’ shoo’in’n’fishin’.

    By-passin’ the educational normalisation process seems t’ve worked out quite well for ’em though.

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  5. The content of this article and its author are “stupid” to put it politely.
    People say things without meaning to say anything all the time. Pundits try to blur things more often than to argue. Polite people go with the flow on small things to avoid annoyance and harassments. Some people say anything to feel alive. Some people say things just to relieve the stress of constipation. Some people say things just to keep themselves from disclosing their real reactions………………

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    • Here’s an example:
      Putin and Ahmadinejad said 9/11 attack was an inside job, not because they actually believe the conspiracy that Jews and/or US government carried out the attack, they were politely teasing the US government like “you chicken, you don’t dare to say Saudi Arabia”.

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      • No Philstrawman, I can assure you those two world leaders among many others know perfectly well 9/11 was an inside job. It’s pretty much taken for granted among all but the vacuous sheep of the world too.

        Like

      • Nice try. You fail to assure me.
        Why use Japan for supporting your point? they are motherfuckers, look what they get back at Fukushima.

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      • Your name reminds me of the so-called honor killers, the ones who kill their own mothers/sisters/daughters/nieces because of the stupid petty pride/name calling from neighbors. You’re not vacuous because you’re too busy defending your retail pride, Allah PBUH must be very proud of you and your tradition.
        I would not stop by at your land just to piss.

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      • I also know a little bit about conspiracy theory. Let me try a conspiracy LITE:
        This article was written and posted back in April, now it appears on Rense because some conspiracy entity pays Rense to have it posted on Rense now for some private reason. That’s how Huffpoop operates.

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      • Finally, you had no idea what was (privately) going on, nor did you know what you were getting into. You are at least associating with honor killers, that make it very hard for you to assure others or to do PR work. There are a lot of conspiracies out there, some are true, but don’t use it to support your geopolitics nor to talk about ‘vacuous’ or ‘sheeples’.

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  6. I’ve got an I.Q. of about 150 and got the 47 days instantly, not because
    I’m brainy but because this Q appears regularly. people are CAUGHT OUT
    because the answer is APPARENTLY EASY and don’t put the care &
    mental effort in AFTER THEY MAKE THE DIFFICULTY ASSESSMENT wrongly. This
    does not detract from their REAL INNATE INTELLIGENT CAPABILITY.
    Actually my Mensa certificated I.Q. is 156 but I cheated in the exam.

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  9. I’m sorry, but what you are describing is stupid people, who think they are smart. Most people think they are smart, mainly for no better reasons than the clowns who came to these conclusions, which is to say, they have been to school and been taught some things and told they are now smart. Never mind much of what they were taught is nonsense and their degree may not be worth a bucket of spit in reality, they’re smart and they know it. So the conclusion which a person with actual intelligence and healthy reasoning ability should come to is not that “Smart people do stupid things” but that a lot of people who think they are smart, are stupid in fact.

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