[ExI] The downsides of high IQ

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Tue Apr 14 15:30:53 UTC 2015

The BBC has an article up

(The summary is that high IQ doesn't help much. It is a tool that can
be used for good or bad).

Over the course of their lives, levels of divorce, alcoholism and
suicide were about the same as the national average.
At best, a great intellect makes no differences to your life
satisfaction; at worst, it can actually mean you are less fulfilled.

The harsh truth, however, is that greater intelligence does not equate
to wiser decisions; in fact, in some cases it might make your choices
a little more foolish. Keith Stanovich at the University of Toronto
has spent the last decade building tests for rationality, and he has
found that fair, unbiased decision-making is largely independent of
IQ. Consider the "my-side bias" - our tendency to be highly selective
in the information we collect so that it reinforces our previous
attitudes. The more enlightened approach would be to leave your
assumptions at the door as you build your argument - but Stanovich
found that smarter people are almost no more likely to do so than
people with distinctly average IQs.

That's not all. People who ace standard cognitive tests are in fact
slightly more likely to have a "bias blind spot". That is, they are
less able to see their own flaws, even when though they are quite
capable of criticising the foibles of others. And they have a greater
tendency to fall for the "gambler's fallacy" - the idea that if a
tossed coin turns heads 10 times, it will be more likely to fall tails
on the 11th.

Indeed, Stanovich sees these biases in every strata of society. "There
is plenty of dysrationalia - people doing irrational things despite
more than adequate intelligence - in our world today," he says. "The
people pushing the anti-vaccination meme on parents and spreading
misinformation on websites are generally of more than average
intelligence and education." Clearly, clever people can be
dangerously, and foolishly, misguided.

So if intelligence doesn't lead to rational decisions and a better
life, what does? Igor Grossmann, at the University of Waterloo in
Canada, thinks we need to turn our minds to an age-old concept:


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list