Clever Fools

Scientists suggest that having a high IQ has nothing to do with practical ability and good judgement, which means clever folks can behave stupidly.

"Is George W Bush stupid?" asks the New Scientist. "It's a question that occupied a good many minds of all political persuasions during his turbulent eight-year presidency. The strict answer is no. Bush's IQ score is estimated to be above 120, which suggests an intelligence in the top 10 per cent of the population. But this, surely, does not tell the whole story… how can a ‘smart’ person act foolishly? Keith Stanovich, professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto, Canada, has grappled with this apparent incongruity for 15 years. He says it applies to more people than you might think. To Stanovich, however, there is nothing incongruous about it. IQ tests are very good at measuring certain mental faculties, he says, including logic, abstract reasoning, learning ability and working-memory capacity - how much information you can hold in mind. But the tests fall down when it comes to measuring those abilities crucial to making good judgements in real-life situations."

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