[ExI] The downsides of high IQ

Henry Rivera hrivera at alumni.virginia.edu
Tue Apr 14 17:47:19 UTC 2015

On Apr 14, 2015, at 11:30 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> The BBC has an article up
> <http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150413-the-downsides-of-being-clever>
> (The summary is that high IQ doesn't help much. It is a tool that can
> be used for good or bad).
> Quotes:
> 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:
> "wisdom".
> --------------------------

While the limitations of intelligence in the domains addressed may be true to a degree, intelligence increase remains a worthwhile cause. I suggest that the consequences of a less intelligent populace are far worse than the alternative. Much of the progress in modern life can be attributed to innovation by relatively intelligent folks. Let's not lose perspective. 

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