“The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence”. So said prolific American writer & poet Charles Bukowski. And in a recent Business Insider article, they debate the notion that people who are unsure of their own intellect are actually smarter than they think they are…
“low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of those of low ability to recognise their ineptitude and evaluate their ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others”
In other words? The feeble minded think they are infallibly fantastic and the clever conclude they are clueless.
In the BI article, the writers (Shana Lebowitz and Áine Cain) offer up 19 signs that you are intelligent without actually realising it. In the interests of time I have compiled a personal list of my top 10 and offer some vapid musings on whether or (mainly) not they apply to me…
1.You own a cat – in a 2014 study of 600 college students it was discovered that ‘cat people’ scored higher on a test of cognitive ability thereby making the connection that felines are more intelligent, just like their owners. Hmm. So I’ve got a dog, not a cat. He’s a Golden Retriever called Baxter. He eats the gravel from our driveway because he thinks it’s kibble. He walks backwards wagging his head. He finds it impossible not to roll in muddy puddles (see pictorial evidence below). Pets are like their owners? Enough said.
2. You are the eldest sibling – though apparently it has nothing to do with genetics. The New York Times cites a study from 2007 which claims that the “eldest children had a slight but significant edge in IQ – an average of three points over the closest sibling. And it found that the difference was not because of biological factors but the psychological interplay of parents and children.” Hmmm I always suspected my folks preferred my older brother to me. But I had the last and longest laugh… I am way smarter than him 😉
3. You are skinny – I can’t believe there is a correlation between body shape and mental acuity but according to various scientific studies it seems that as your waistline expands then your IQ shrinks. For example, a 2006 study found statistical proof that 11 year olds who scored lower on a series of “verbal and nonverbal tests” were much more prone to obesity in their 40s. The research also claims that the slender kids who scored higher were more likely to have gone into higher education and secured jobs with a higher salary. As for me, I’m ‘Mr Medium’ so I don’t really fall into either category. So does that mean I am also of medium intelligence? Also, if I overindulge over Christmas does that mean my brain power will recede? I best lay off the mince pies just in case…
4. You are left handed – in the past ‘lefties’ were either labelled ‘creative’ or ‘criminals’. Or creative criminals. Or criminal creatives (met a few of those in my career). Anyway although both are statistically true, the boffins really don’t understand why. However it does seem that left handers are far more adept at ‘divergent thinking’ (the ability to combine two common objects into a third object for a different purpose). Skills. Actually, I am ambidextrous. It seems that I wanted to write with my left hand as a child but was forced by my teachers to write with my right hand because my writing was almost illegible. So does that mean that I was ‘probably’ going to be smarter but was forced into being dumber? Or was I going to be a criminal but ended up being law abiding? Now I’m properly confused.
5. You drink alcohol regularly – Satoshi Kanazawa is an Evolutionary Psychologist discovered in his research that both British and American adults who scored higher on IQ tests when they were children drank more alcohol when they reached adulthood than those who had scored lower. Yay, finally I can justify that glass of red wine with my dinner.
6. You worry – do you overthink everything? Cogitate about every decision? Become anxious about the potential outcomes? Then the chances are that you are brighter than you believe. In a study by Dr Edward Selby in Psychology Today, his findings showed that those subjects who ruminated more on matters scored much better on measures of verbal intelligence. Well, that just worries me. And I already worry. About worrying.
7. You are funny – smart and funny is the holy grail for a business professional right?Well maybe not if you work as a Pathologist. Or a Judge. Not much call for jocularity in those careers I guess. Anyway, I digress. In a study of 400 psychology students who were given a series of intelligence tests that measured “abstract reasoning abilities and verbal intelligence” they were tasked with coming up with entertaining captions for cartoons. These were then independently rated on how amusing they were. The conclusion? Smarter students were funnier. Now I think I am pretty humorous and often laugh out loud at my own jokes. Does that count? Nope, didn’t think so.
8. You are untidy – Dr. Kathleen Vohs from the University of Minnesota has found that if you work in a messy room rather than a tidy one then you are more likely to be creative. In her research the subjects were tasked with inventing different uses for a Ping Pong ball. The teams were split into 2 teams of 24 people, one group were placed in a neat room whilst the other group were camped out in an untidy room. The result? The team who were based in the ‘rats nest’ came up with far more creative solutions. Sadly my OCD is off the scale so I find it almost impossible to work in a slovenly environment. Yet another clue (like it was required) as to why I’m maybe not that bright.
9. You don’t try hard – not to be confused with being lazy, it means that by being innately talented you simply don’t have to try as hard as those who are less astute. Never has the expression ‘naturally gifted’ been more apt. A Vanderbilt University study uncovered that “those who were in the 99.9 percentile — the profoundly gifted — were between three and five times more likely to go on to earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work. A high level of intellectual ability gives you an enormous real-world advantage.” Reminds me of Timothy Doggart from my school. He was always at the top of the class in every single subject and yet he never broke a sweat whilst I worked my ass off just to remain vaguely in contention. Truth? I didn’t really like Tim.
10. You didn’t have sex until after high school – The University of North Carolina did a survey of 12,000 teenagers and found that the ones with the highest IQ’s were also the most likely to still be virgins. They were also the ones who were the least likely to have got to 1st or 2nd base. Let alone sliding into 3rd. A variety of explanations have been offered as to the reasons why this might be the case… such as smart people have lower libido’s or that they are risk averse. However, the most popular theory is that geeks just don’t appeal that much to the opposite sex. Harsh. But possibly fair. And as for me? No comment. Although I bet that for just that one time I (possibly) beat Timothy Doggart. Ok, I know, I really need to get over this Tim thing right?
So what do you think? Do any of these unusual factors really influence intelligence? Can you think of any others that maybe apply? Or do you think that none of them make any sense and it’s all down to a mixture of nature and nurture?
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