Monday, November 3, 2008

Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

Psychologist Robert Sternberg [born 1949] concludes that smart people do stupid things whenever four fallacies are committed:

1. Narcissistic Fallacy
They've been so rewarded in their lives, they become very focused and centered around themselves, and they stop caring about outcomes for other people.
2. Omniscience Fallacy
They surround themselves with sycophants. They start to think that they know everything; part of wisdom is knowing what you don't know.
3. Omnipotence Fallacy
They begin to think that they are all powerful. They start acting as though they can do anything they want.
4. Invulnerability Fallacy
They start to think that they are Superman.
When collectively committed, very smart people can start to do incredibly stupid things.

Sternberg, formerly President of the American Psychological Association, developed his insights through, for example, examining "The Smartest Guys in the Room" at Enron and President Bill Clinton's association with Monica Lewinsky.