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Does it pay to be smart?

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From the BBC:

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. The fallacy has been the ruination of roulette players planning for a red after a string of blacks, and it can also lead stock investors to sell their shares before they reach peak value – in the belief that their luck has to run out sooner or later. More.

Actually, there are many more successful life forms that lack individual intelligence than there are independently intelligent ones.

Maybe intelligence is like good taste? It may or may not pay, but if you experience it, you don’t want to lose it.

See also: The human mind, the skinny

6 Replies to “Does it pay to be smart?

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    “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.”

    This is COMPLETE crap. If a guy at a betting table tosses heads 10 times in a row, let alone 11, you take him out in the alley. The ENTIRE field of Statistical Process Control is based on that FACT that if your true odds are 1 in 2, then getting an uninterrupted string of 1’s means either: the system is WAY out, 6 or 7 Standard Deviations from normal; or something fundamental has changed about the system.

    What someone has confused is the isolated chance of any individual test is 1 in 2 with the fact that if the question becomes “what are the odds of a string of 11 CONSECUTIVE tests producing the same result” the chance is infinitesimal.

    People at this site use this statistical logic correctly in half of the posts. Why is someone insisting on getting it WRONG? Gamblers who USE the so-called “gambler’s fallacy” make money. Statistics was INVENTED to help win money at card games.

  2. 2
    anthropic says:

    Market traders say “the trend is your friend” for a reason. Back in the day when I was a financial analyst, the best investments were invariably those where I kept investing with the trend until it stopped, rather than trying to guess when it would stop.

    That said, in my observation smart people are no more wise than average IQ folks. Including myself, sad to say!

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    Nassim Taleb’s Fat Tony and Dr John – the Ludic Fallacy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludic_fallacy

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    The reason is that there are no smart people. all there is IS people who know things. Then someone calls them smart who know more then others.
    The bible says wisdom is real So wise people would make better decisions. the bible says there is understanding and knowledge. different ‘smart” things.
    These tests simply test, usually kids, that have more then average knowledge or understanding.
    So smarter people should do better but you must figure out who is smarter. its not IQ test folks or it might be but you would never know.
    One needs to test WQ against UQ and KQ.
    Funally all people don’t know much anyways and easily see things from already existing presumptions.

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    Yes, it pays. Which is why the leafy suburbs and moated estates are peopled by those with both a high, worldly intelligence and at least high-end, worldly motivation.

    However, the article seems to confirm the point I’ve made a few times on here, to the effect that intelligence qua sound intelligence is the great leveler, since our most basic assumptions, on which our worldviews are based, are so abstruse, subtle and recondite that, in the final analysis, we choose them quite subjectively.

    That applies to belief in Christianity, too. Indeed, as the atheists claim, it is wishful thinking; but as they fail to realise, that desire and hope, that wishful thinking, are inspired in us by God, himself, and he offers ‘for those with eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’, ample confirmation.

    Why, after all, with the evidence of such a beautiful world, should we believe that ultimate truth must be ugly, not to be wished for, not to be hoped for, undesirable ? Cold, hard truth, my eye ! The truth is dynamic as quantum physics attests; life and the source of life.

    Our understanding does not all come immediately, much has to be put on the back-burner, for the actualisation as knowledge, of what was initially held as a matter of faith (a continuum with knowledge, just as with their secular variant continuum), at some later date. So, the faith-knowledge continuum provides a map-key to knowledge of the world and of man’s life and its end. Another more conventional image is of a springboard.

    Children are, by and large, the only true intellectuals, since they are essentially-disinterested seekers after truth for its own sake; the competitive rat-race not yet impinging.

    The Sermon on the Mount, indeed, the whole of scripture scorns the worldly analytical intelligence, unaided by spiritual wisdom, while valorising the more spiritual intelligence of the untutored or nto academically-oriented person – mutatis mutandis, since both categories would have their chronically unenlightened.

    The fulfilment of the vocation of the more intellectually-oriented person is to be found in seeking to satisfy the physical-survival priorities of their more endemically-spiritual, non-academic brothers and sisters. This can and often does include the latters’ spiritual survival in a corrupt world which perpetually undermines their confidence in their own judgment.

    Even within the church, worldly intelligence has been viewed, however subliminally, as a virtue, a high virtue, and worldly ambition, so roundly disparaged in the New Testament, as all but the sovereign virtue; so that now that we have a pope who points out the falsity of this prioritisation is called a Communist.

    If it were only a matter of ignorance of the Christ’ Gospel it would be reprehensible enough, but it’s worse than hapless ignorance. As Dom Helder Camara, late Archbishop of Recife remarked : ‘When I give to the poor, they call me a saint; but when I ask why they have no bread, they call me a Communist.’

    In the end, it all comes down to voluntarism, as indeed the scriptures make clear. We simply cannot be favourably judged on the basis of our worldly intelligence. Not many would want to be greeted by Dr Mengele in heaven, but who would not be bowled over by a welcome by the kind of old girl played by Irene Handle in those Ealing comedies ? Though she would be one of the intellectual luminaries up yonder, since th closer we are able to approach the source of infinite love, the more we will be able to understand.

  6. 6
    Zachriel says:

    I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not {always} to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. — Ecclesiastes 9:11

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