Inspire, develop & celebrate creativity

Dealing With Smart People Having Dumb Ideas

Why do brilliant people defend dumb ideas? Strategies on how to handle them.

Being intelligent doesn’t always mean that you are right. Unfortunately. Why do brilliant people defend dumb ideas?

Pitfalls of the clever

  • Intelligent people follows dumb leaders *politics.
  • Ideological induced stupidity creates blind spots hiding logical fallacies.
  • Educated or indoctrinated into idiocy.
  • Emotion can lure ardent thinkers to asinine conclusions.
  • Wishful thinking substitutes thinking.

The challenge is, at least for me, is that my brain is rather quick on its feet. Frequently several steps ahead of the conversation. Which is useful, when it is not in the wrong direction. Smart people are often able to defend an argument even when it’s wrong. While most reasonable people might be dissuaded by simple facts, an intelligent individual will often have a variety of logical tools at his or her disposal.

When no one can disprove the logic, the smart person can become more entrenched in the position. Until such a point where he or she encounters a perceived intellectual equal, the intelligent individual will simply be assured of his or her success. While risking unintended intellectual bullying.

Finally, these individuals may think on the wrong level. We more often than not over-think ideas, applying theoretical knowledge and speculation where skill, or experience is required.

Preventing a smart person from following bad ideas. In short, you make the individual work through his or her own thought process. Appeal to his or her ego by having him or her break down the argument, and then ask him or her questions. Slow the conversation down. An intelligent mind, when faced with flawed logic, will try to put information together in a more reasonable manner. Doing so will allow him or her a frustration free chance to reassess the argument.

Checklists for dealing with smart people’s dumb ideas

✓ Prepare:

  1. Loose the drama -and wear a thick skin.
  2. Disengage personal victory or failure from the conclusion.
  3. Don’t fear looking stupid when guiding the conversation by asking clarifying questions.

✓ Engage:

  1. Slow the conversation down.
  2. Walk through the argument step by step.
  3. Find a mutually respected third party to mitigate.
  4. If all fails, postpone the conclusion. Later try -try again.
  5. Lastly consider that the clever asshat might be right.