Skip to comments.The 5 Unique Ways Intelligent People Screw Up Their Lives
Posted on 10/07/2012 7:09:08 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs. Thomas Sowell
1) They may believe that learning about something is the same as doing it.
When youve gone to school for years, read hundreds of books, and talked to experts about a subject, theres a tendency to believe that you can learn everything you possibly need to know about something without ever doing it. Unfortunately, there are some things in life you can just never understand without personally experiencing them, as this quote from Good Will Hunting explains.
Sean: So if I asked you about art, youd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Lifes work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But Ill bet you cant tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. Youve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, youd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you cant tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. Youre a tough kid. And Id ask you about war, youd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, once more unto the breach dear friends. But youve never been near one. Youve never held your best friends head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. Id ask you about love, youd probably quote me a sonnet. But youve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldnt know what its like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldnt know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms visiting hours dont apply to you. You dont know about real loss, cause it only occurs when youve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt youve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you . I dont see an intelligent, confident man . I see a cocky, scared sh*tless kid. But youre a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my f*cking life apart. Youre an orphan right? You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally I dont give a sh*t about all that, because you know what, I cant learn anything from you, I cant read in some f*ckin book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then Im fascinated. Im in. But you dont want to do that do you sport? Youre terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.
Additionally, as Thomas Sowell has noted, experience trumps brilliance. If you had a restaurant, whom would you rather have running it for the next year? A seasoned veteran of a restaurant business with a decade of experience and an average IQ or Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant scientists who ever lived? Keep in mind that Tesla used to falsely claim that he had created a death ray, never married because he thought great inventors should remain celibate, and spent the last decade of his life obsessing over pigeons. Yeah, thats what I thought.
2) They can be really good at coming up with excuses for failure.
Just as you can use a gun for target practice or a robbery and a knife to cut a steak or slash a tire, intelligence is a tool that can be used many different ways. One of the most common ways brilliant people hurt themselves is by using their intellect to devise excuses for why theyve failed instead of coming up with new ways to succeed. People who are really good at this can come up with a theory about life, see it fail every test, and still be just as convinced they were right as when they started. These are the sort of people Talleyrand once described as having learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
3) They sometimes become overconfident about their intellect.
If dumb people have a tendency to ask too many questions and move too slowly, their more clever brethren can make the mistake of asking too few questions and plunging in too quickly. This can often backfire because brain power is not applied equally across all facets of a human mind. You can be brilliant at math, but average at English; have a knack for dealing with people, but be unable to understand computers; be a marketing wizard, but a relationship disaster.
Many smart people make the incorrect assumption that because theyre smart in one area, theyll be just as smart in every area once they figure it out. Napoleon was sure he would figure out how to deal with the Russian winter; Bernie Madoff thought he would figure out a way to get away with fraud; and William James Sidis, who may have been the most intelligent man who ever lived, was probably shocked to end up in a sanatorium for a year because of his decision to participate in a socialist riot. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as too smart to fail.
4) Theyre used to being right so much that they stop listening to other people.
When youre a genius, you get used to being right when everyone else around you is wrong. You outsmart other people, you out-test them, you outmaneuver them, and you get very used to moving forward even when other people are telling you that youre wrong. This is not a bad thing. It just goes with the territory. However, whether youre talking about you, me, Einstein it doesnt matter, everybody makes mistakes. The problem the smartest person in the room has when he screws up is that he may assume that this is one of those many, many times when hes gotten it right and everyone else has blown it. Next thing you know, youre Mike Markkula pushing Steve Jobs out at Apple or Lyndon Johnson dramatically ramping up our forces in Vietnam while simultaneously making decisions from Washington that made it completely impossible to ever win the war. No amount of intellect will ever replace the value of wise counsel.
5) They may try to show how uncommon they are.
Common sense doesnt appeal to many intellectuals simply because its common. That may seem counter-intuitive, but think about it from their perspective: If theyre ever so much smarter than the average person, why are they doing the same things that average people do? Why would they believe the same things that average people believe? How can they be unique, special, and smarter than everyone else when they believe the same things as average Alvin and dumb Dave? If theyre so much smarter, shouldnt they know better?
What you hear referred to as anti-intellectualism is often really just a reaction to this attitude. Its why William F. Buckley once said,
Id rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
Its also why Morgan Freeberg has noted that intellectualism has become the readiness, willingness and ability to call dangerous things safe, and safe things dangerous. When smart people feel compelled to take stupid positions to prove how smart they are, they can turn their own lives and the lives of everyone around them into a train wreck in the process.
“5) They may try to show how uncommon they are.”
I like this one...smart people need to show off just how smart they are. Every wonder why they’re called:
a) Smart Cars
c) Prius (as in pious)
“Now I know how much I do NOT know.”
Amen to that! When I got out of college, I went in the Air Force to learn how the real world works. I am out of the Air Force now and still learning.
Every time I see one of these “Smart” cars, I want to ask the owner, “Why don’t you leave your riding lawn mower at home?”
I personally could not understand how an Art History major could truly appreciate what they were looking at without having ever tried to paint in oils, chisel marble, carve wood, etc. Similarly, I couldn't understand how the studio folks could ever hope to achieve anything significant without having a decent understanding of precedent and the foundation on which they were trying to build.
One of things that makes me wonder is how often small plane crashes have doctors, lawyers, and other non-professional people as the pilot. There seems to be quite a few small plane crashes, and many of them were piloted by non-professional pilots. I can’t help thinking that many of these non-professional pilots thought that because they were so successful as a doctor, lawyer, or whatever professional, that automatically extended to flying a plane. Obviously, there’s no reason why a professional can’t be a good pilot. But I see so many reports of non-professional pilots with crashed planes, I can’t help but conjecture.
Let me just say, I had a change of heart. I soon learned to consult the 'expert' when I had a problem. Even my husband would ask, "what does your mother think we should do?" whenever we had a problem like colic or whatever. It was a humbling experience. (In case you haven't figured it out, it wasn't my mother who was stupid.)
I learned to fly a Piper Cherokee before I went to Army flight school. The instructors regarded me the dumbest student pilot they had ever seen. As a result, I flew like I knew I really was the stupidest pilot - my survival depended upon following every last one of the rules & maintaining all the safety crosschecks and knowing all my emergency procedures, because I wasn’t clever or bold enough to attempt any risky maneuvers in the aircraft.
Hmmm.....and now I’m still here.
Sorry, Tom. Talleyrand was describing the returning members of the House of Bourbon after Napoleon's defeat.
Absolutely nobody ever described these princes as brilliant.
There are old pilots (divers, climbers, etc.) and bold pilots.
But no old, bold pilots
Sounds a lot like a guy I know. Obammy, are you listening?
When doctors, lawyers, and other professional people pilot their own plane they often start thinking about the reason for the flight, someone needs an operation, a difficult court case, etc. instead of flying the plane. That is what gets them in trouble.
or entrust the government to the soldiers in a mech infantry platoon.
I once walked through Cologne Cathedral and looked at the stained glass windows and thought, its people who built this cathedral who make me realize how little Ive accomplished.
they were places little people could go to escape their poor lives for a bit of time by becoming enthralled in the beauty and believing in an afterlife that was as beautiful as the cathedral.
not to diminish the majesty of the cathedral don’t forget the future generations of the people that built the cathedral brought us WW1, WW2,and the holocaust.
JFK Jr. comes to mind. When he flunked the bar exam umpteen times, it could have indicated that he might not be a very good lawyer or maybe even not a good pilot either.
But he was JFK Jr.
It’s the same with actors, they achieve some measure of success pretending on screen to be what they are not, so that qualifies them as political experts.
The first law of aviation: The indicated AGL altitude must always be greater than the MSL altitude of the terrain over which the aircraft is flying. Everything else is style.