Too Smart

“One of the most persistent fallacies is the reflexive association of wealth with wisdom,” Ed Borgato once wrote.

Wealth might be a sign of good decisions, but can those decisions be repeated? And do good decisions in one field translate to wisdom in other areas of life? Maybe, maybe not – that’s the best we can say. And there are times where exceptional wealth can prevent empathizing with ordinary people, making insight more precarious.

A similar mistake, a bit harder to grasp, is the assumption that smart people have the right answers.

They may. But does intelligence in one field convert to others? Does being good at taking tests translate to, say, leading groups of people?

Maybe. It’s never clear.

And like wealth, there are situations where people become too smart for their own good, where intelligence is a liability and blocks good decisions.

A few causes:

The ability to create complex stories makes it easy to fool people, including yourself.

I know people I would not want to debate with on the question, “What is 2 + 2?” because they could go down a rabbit hole that’s over my head and leave me either exhausted or convinced the answer may not be four.

The dangerous thing is that those people can do the same things to themselves.

Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” The smarter you are I think the truer (Read more...)