Smart People

Smart peo­ple some­times believe the dumb­est things. I know peo­ple who can read through mas­sive tomes in an after­noon, trans­late pages from one dead lan­guage to another and yet despite all evi­dence to the con­trary, believe fer­vently in the effi­cacy of home­o­pathic medi­cine. I’ve known oth­ers who are con­vinced that George Bush ini­ti­ated the bomb­ing of the World Trade Cen­ter but are oth­er­wise as well spo­ken as any per­son your likely to meet. I know a man who can hold the designs for vast com­puter net­works in his head yet still believes every­thing he reads in the news with­out ques­tion, so long as reaf­firms his prior beliefs.

And that’s really the issue I think. Peo­ple are biased towards self affirm­ing infor­ma­tion and thoughts and even peo­ple who are aware of this bias, are still biased. In fact, those who are most aware of the bias, often are most prey to it, because by being aware of it, they think that they are immune. We have a ten­dency to fool our­selves about the world around us and the smarter we are, the bet­ter we are at it. It’s weird.

Most of us know folks who are smarter than us and can cor­rect us when we pick up ideas that are too crazy or fool­ish, or who can impar­tially pick apart the flaws in our logic on a daily basis. We are forced to humil­ity because opin­ions from those that we trust cor­rect us and keep us sane. The smartest among us, how­ev­er, don’t have that advan­tage. Smart peo­ple, or those who are the smartest in their imme­di­ate peers, have no one to tell them that they are wrong. They have only their own rea­son­ing on which to rely and so the most fool­ish beliefs can pros­per unhin­dered. The smarter a man is, the bet­ter he is at con­vinc­ing him­self of non­sense.

Every per­son needs at least one other per­son to keep him sane and hum­ble.

    Last update: 18/08/2012

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