[ExI] The downsides of high IQ

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Apr 16 09:48:09 UTC 2015

BillK <pharos at gmail.com> , 16/4/2015 11:36 AM:
Some of the benefits of higher intelligence seem linked to better education. 
Re:better health, well-educated people have the knowledge to avoid 
smoking and to have a reasonable diet. This gives better health and 
adds years to their life. 

Yes, but even when you control for education (like in the Scottish Schoolchildren Study) intelligence has a health effect. There can of course be complex causation going other ways too: maybe a good genetic endowment is good for both intelligence and health, and being healthy is definitely good for the brain. But education is not the sole causal link.

Re happiness, higher intelligence seems to make people worry more. 
Perhaps they see possible problems where others don't. They also seem 
to have the unsatisfied feeling that they should be doing something 
more with their life. 

I think this is a "first world problem": smart people express their worries, experience impostor syndrome more acutely since they often are more successful, and often have more interesting and abstract worries than less smart people. When you look at actual life satisfaction statistics it is very clear that dumb people have a harsh time - they might not know why their lives suck, but they sure feel it. 

Re wisdom, the article is hopeful that wisdom can be taught - by 
visualising problems as though they applied to someone else (and 
setting aside your own personal biases).

Yes, it is helpful. But we need more methods and more teaching of them. I have found roleplaying games useful for putting myself into somebody else's shoes, as well as improvising scenarios that allow me to guess at consequences. But reading enough cognitive bias literature and seeing stupid smart people has taught me something even more valuable: to assume I am overconfident in my knowledge and ability until I get good evidence to the contrary. Being too certain is very risky.

When they are heavily into devising some complex plan it is 
useful to have someone around who can provide a reality check. (Often 
known as 'wife'). 

Yup. Many eyes makes bugs shallow. And having two or more different perspectives on problem solving is very helpful.

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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