In “Why Smart People Are Stupid” (New Yorker, June 12, 2012), Jonah Lehrer recounts,
A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology led by Richard West at James Madison University and Keith Stanovich at the University of Toronto suggests that, in many instances, smarter people are more vulnerable to these thinking errors. Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias—that’s why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes—it can actually be a subtle curse. …
What explains this result? One provocative hypothesis is that the bias blind spot arises because of a mismatch between how we evaluate others and how we evaluate ourselves. When considering the irrational choices of a stranger, for instance, we are forced to rely on behavioral information; we see their biases from the outside, which allows us to glimpse their systematic thinking errors. However, when assessing our own bad choices, we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. We scrutinize our motivations and search for relevant reasons; we lament our mistakes to therapists and ruminate on the beliefs that led us astray.
Maybe. Another possibility is that in a culture that highly values abstract intelligence, people with high IQs may be less cautious about the possibility that they are making mistakes. They stray outside their areas of expertise and – as the saying goes – know just enough to get it all wrong.
People less gifted with high intelligence tend to just avoid areas they don’t understand, so there are mistakes they just won’t make.