Smart people are often addicted to The Factionary. So how smart are you? We’re guessing somewhere stuck between certain and skeptic. If its the latter, chances might be that you are, but if its the former, well… you might not be as smart as you think you are. There are several blogs we’ve written about the traits of being intelligent, and we must confess, being smart isn’t as you might think. However, if you believe you’ve got what it takes to be the next Einstein, take it easy. You might be dumb but you play smart.
Related media: The Dunning-Kruger Effect
How Smart Do You Think You Are?
Let’s analyze how smart you are with this hypothetical scenario. You visit a coffee shop and order for a pumpkin-spiced latte. That’s your choice, right? The shop attendant whispers to you and says, “you shouldn’t spice up with pumpkins.” But you insist on what you want. “Seriously, sir,” he says with a firm voice. “Pumpkin is bad for you.”
“Maybe you’re right, but I’ll still enjoy a pumpkin-spiced latte,” you say. You know that wasn’t the best response, but evidently, what was his point? He proceeds to explain further, “a friend turned me against pumpkins. See, idiots eat pumpkin. Its terribly bad. There’s not a single reason to eat pumpkin. The science is irrefutable. They even akin to evil spirits, especially during Halloween.”
“Ho ho… hold on a second,” you stutter. “What’s that for (WTF),” you said. “This has really changed my life,” he says. “I don’t really think that a pumpkin-spiced latte or any pumpkin-made beverage can cause harm,” you suggest. “How long have you known that?,” you finally ask. “Just yesterday,” he says. “WTF,” you say. This is just one of such many real-life arguments of street smarts who think they’re smart, but are they?
The Dunning-Kruger (D-K) effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe they’re smarter and more skilled than they actually are. This was described by two social psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, hence the name. People generally feel like they know more, and when they combine a lack of self-esteem with a low cognitive ability. Boom! You will overestimate your own intelligence and competence.
“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent,” says Dunning, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. “The skills you need to produce the right answer are the very same skills you need to recognize the right answer.”
We’ve all been there. That awkward moment when you know for sure you’re right, so you take your position with whatever you think is right, totally disregarding opposing views. You know you’re right — and they want you to know you’re right. This isn’t a sign of intelligence. That’s a classic D-K. But on the flip side, people with high ability tend to underrate their relative competence, they assume that tasks that are easy for them are just as easy for other people.
As Bertrand Russell puts it, “one of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”
There’s No Wisdom In Certainty
This is because wisdom isn’t found in certainty. Wisdom is when you know a lot, and you also know that there’s a lot you don’t know. Wisdom is when you’re trying to find out what’s right rather than being right. Wisdom is realizing when you’re wrong, and backing down graciously. Never be afraid of being wrong. Never be afraid you don’t know it all. Never be afraid to say “I don’t know” instead of “I think I know.”
According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, “the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.”
So if you’re often the jack-with-all-traits, you might not be as smart as you think. You’re probably a D-K.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Jan 29, 2022.