Reasons Why Smart People Do Foolish Things

Most likely, all of us know somebody who is very intelligent, but for some reason, does amazingly stupid things.  Often times, these silly things are objects of fun and humor.  But what does it really mean for someone to be considered smart or intelligent

Generally speaking, we use these terms when we describe a person that is knowledgeable and perhaps makes wise decisions. But if get right down to it, this definition may not match up with the way that intelligence is typically measured. The standard measure of intelligence that most of us are well aware of is the IQ as called the intelligence quotient. An IQ test is used to measure the intelligence of an individual by presenting them with various reading exercises, math problems, pattern recognition, vocabulary questions, as well as visual searches. 

Of course, there are many advantages to being intelligent.  Intelligent people are much more likely to receive good grades in school and also most likely to succeed in their careers. And also they are not as apt to get in trouble during their adolescent stage.  When you consider all these advantages, it is somewhat surprising to discover that this will not predict outcomes of life, such as general well-being. 

Real Reason Why Smart People Do Dumb Stuff

One may think that performing well in school or even at work would mean more satisfaction in life, but many very large scale studies do not to report any evidence at all that IQ had any effect on life satisfaction or on longevity.  Many experts argue that the majority of intelligence tests do not include real world decisions or even common social activity factors. Many believe that these factors could very well describe why smart people do stupid things.

However, having the capability to think critically is associated with longevity and wellness. Many people tend to confuse this process with intelligence, but let us stress that critical thinking is definitely not intelligence.  Critical thinking is basically a toolbox of cognitive skills that will allow thinking in a rational fashion with a goal in mind, and the ability to utilize these skills as needed.  Critical thinkers are notorious skeptics.  They are typically very flexible thinkers who need to see evidence which support their conclusions and recognize feeble efforts to persuade them.  Critical thinking also is the ability to overcome all kinds of cognitive biases.

Critical Thinking Benefits

Critical thinking gives us the skill to predict a huge scope of life events.  Based on a series of different studies, it has been discovered that critical thinkers do not experience as many bad things in their lives. During the studies, people were asked to furnish an inventory of their life events and to take specific critical thinking assessments. The assessment serves to measure five components of critical thinking skills to include verbal reasoning, hypothesis testing, argument analysis, decision-making, probability and uncertainty, and problem-solving.  The inventory of negative events in life were intended to capture various areas of life like academic, legal, interpersonal, health, financial, etc.  Over and over again, researchers have found that critical thinkers go through fewer negative experiences in their lives. This is an amazing discovery as there are lots of opportunities for anyone to receive critical thinking training.

This leads us to the question if it is more desirable to be intelligent or a critical thinker? These studies compared the two groups and found that critical thinkers fared better in almost every case.