Why People Think They’re Smart (But Actually Aren’t)

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about intelligence. You’ve probably wondered why some people seem smarter than others, and what it means to be “smart.” 

As someone who has always been ranked near the top of his class in school, I can tell you that being considered smart was very helpful throughout my academic career. 

Whether I’d earned my grades through hard work or had simply been lucky enough to be born with a high IQ (as many people do), it was nice to know that some people thought highly of me because they believed I was intelligent.

However: That doesn’t mean all those smart kids were truly as smart as everyone thought they were and neither are we!

Why are Smart People So Dumb?
1. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias where individuals with low ability tend to overestimate their competence.
2. Intelligence doesn’t always prevent irrational decisions; even smart people can make unintelligent choices.
3. Incredibly talented individuals might doubt their abilities due to imposter syndrome.
4. Perception of intelligence can influence behavior, affecting confidence and risk-taking tendencies.
5. Understanding these psychological phenomena can enhance self-awareness and lead to better decision-making and personal growth.

They Have A High IQ.

When people think they’re smart, they’re often actually just good at taking tests. It’s easy to look at a test and say “oh I got a 140!” or “I’m an IQ of 160!” but that doesn’t mean that person is intelligent in the real world. 

IQ tests are very limited in what they measure and only measure certain types of intelligence. For example, being able to memorize facts (as opposed to understanding them) will help you do well on an IQ test but it does not make you smarter nor does it predict future success

The problem with these kinds of tests is that they tend to favor people who have a particular type of brain or have been trained over years and years by their parents/teachers/coaches etc.. 

For example, if someone has grown up learning Latin then when they take an SAT exam that has some questions about Greek mythology they’ll probably do better than someone who hasn’t studied Greek mythology.

Because this knowledge was already part of their mental framework before starting on the SAT exam! This means even though both students had an equal opportunity where language skills were concerned (they both spoke English).

One student had an advantage over another simply because she grew up surrounded by people who liked Classical studies vs someone who didn’t know anything about Julius Caesar until later in life.”

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They’ve Achieved A Lot

You might be thinking, “Is it enough to just have a lot of knowledge? What if I’m not particularly smart?”

The answer is that you have to have a lot of both. If you have lots of experience and knowledge, but your brain isn’t working well enough to process it all properly, then that won’t count for much either. You need both sets in order for your intelligence to shine through. 

That’s why many people who think they’re smart aren’t all that intelligent: they only have one set.

So if the person you’re dealing with has achieved a lot in their life and seems like they know a lot about many subjects congratulations! They might be quite intelligent after all.

They Read Lots Of Books

If you’re the kind of person who reads a lot, that’s great! Reading is one of the best ways to learn new things and can be beneficial in many different aspects. 

However, reading isn’t everything it doesn’t mean that you are smart just because you read books all the time. This can lead people to think they’re more intelligent than they are when they aren’t very smart at all.

Some other ways of knowing whether someone is smart to include:

  • They make decisions quickly without having much information available (they may have just guessed)
  • They talk about complex topics in an easy-to-understand way with others around them (not everyone can do this)

They’re Well-Spoken

You can tell a lot about someone’s intelligence by the way they speak. Are they well-spoken? Do their words have some weight? Do they look smart, or like a know-it-all?

You may think that it’s just because of how much education and experience you have, but it’s more than that. It all comes down to being confident with your words and not being afraid to pause after saying something important.

Take me for example I’m fairly sure that this article is going to be brilliant and make tons of money (and I’ve already told my wife that she should expect her paycheck next month). 

But even though I know this article will be great, if I were to read through it now without pausing at certain points in the article, or speaking slower than usual, or even if my voice sounded monotone.

Then people probably wouldn’t take me seriously as an author or anything else related to writing articles on websites like The Muse.”

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They Speak Quickly

Speak quickly because they’re nervous: People who are feeling nervous or insecure will often talk faster and louder than usual. They may also speak in a higher pitch than normal, which can make them sound younger than they are.

Speak quickly because they’re excited: When people are excited about something, they tend to speak faster and with more volume than usual. Sometimes this is a good thing it’s how we get our point across when we want someone else to understand what we’re saying! 

But if you’re speaking too loudly or fast for the situation at hand (like if you’re meeting one of your favorite celebrities), then it might not be the best way to go about things.

It could also be that…

They’re trying to prove themselves: Some people may feel like their opinions aren’t being heard in conversation with others around them so they compensate by speaking fast for other members of the group/audience etc., 

Listen carefully enough so as not to miss anything important being said during group discussion sessions etc., which ultimately serves only one purpose i.e., proving themselves right!

They’re A Deep Thinker

You probably think you’re a deep thinker. To you, it’s nothing to sit down and ponder the big problems of the world why are we here? Where are we going? What does it all mean? You’ve got this stuff figured out.

But what if I told you that actually, no one can see “the bigger picture”? And that even though your ability to see connections between ideas makes it seem like your mind is working faster than most other people’s, it’s just making connections that aren’t there in real life?

If this sounds familiar (and if not, welcome to my section on self-deception), here’s how to tell whether or not your supposed “deep thinking” is just an illusion:

They’ve Been Told They Are Smart Their Whole Life

You’ve been told you’re smart your whole life. Your parents, teachers, and other authority figures have praised you for being a bright young person. Your friends have always said how well-spoken and intelligent you are. 

Your boss recently gave you a promotion because he was so impressed by your performance in the workplace. The point is: that many people believe that you are very smart and sometimes we can forget to question those beliefs ourselves.

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They Can Work On Hard Problems For Hours Without Getting Tired

You’ve probably heard that some people are smarter than others. You may even believe this is true, or at least think you can recognize when someone isn’t smart. 

But I have news for you: the difference between a “smart” person and a “not-so-smart” one isn’t how quickly they can solve puzzles, or how much knowledge they have stored in their brain. 

Instead, it’s about how well they can focus and ignore distractions at work and these abilities aren’t necessarily related to IQ scores!

If you want to understand what makes someone seem more intelligent than average, look for signs of them being able to concentrate for long periods without getting bored or distracted by other thoughts (e.g., “Hey what if…”).

Their Work Is Applauded By Others

Another reason why people think they’re smart is that their work is applauded by others. They may be good at what they do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smart.

For example, let’s say you are a good salesperson who sells cars for a living or you’re a great athlete who plays football for the NFL. 

Both of these jobs require a lot of skill and talent and both are very popular (there are many more people who want to be in the car business than can succeed at it). 

Because there’s such high demand for these jobs and very few people who can do them well, your skills will get noticed and quickly rewarded with promotions and opportunities to lead other people.”

They Know Lots Of Things About Many Subjects

One of the things that make people think they’re smart is that they know lots of things about many subjects. 

They’re good at memorizing facts, have a broad range of knowledge, are good at learning new things, can tell you about a lot of different topics, and are good at reading and understanding books and complex ideas.

This makes them think “I must be smart because I know so much.” This isn’t necessarily true though the only way to be smart is by having an understanding of how the world works.

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They Use Big Words Correctly

You know what I’m talking about. You’re in a meeting and someone starts using big words to show off how smart they are. Or maybe it’s not big words, but just fancy ones. 

Maybe the person is just trying to sound smarter than everyone else at the table by using words that don’t even make sense together (like “accessorize” instead of “accessorize”).

As much as I’d love for this person to be me (even though it usually isn’t), there’s something kind of annoying about people who use big or fancy words incorrectly or differently than how they were taught them in school. 

Sure, you can use all kinds of different parts of speech in your writing; that’s part of why English is such a versatile language! But if you’re going to do that, do it right! If you don’t know how to use a word correctly (like when someone says “utilize” instead of “use”).

Then go back up your Google search results until you find out how it should be used before writing anything down again

They Have Lots Of Hobbies And Interests

When you have a lot of hobbies, you think of yourself as a well-rounded person. You’re not just someone who sits at home and watches TV all day, you tell yourself. 

You’re a renaissance man! Or woman! But while having lots of interests may seem like it makes you smarter, the reality is that it can make you dumber.

This happens because when we are faced with new information, our brains try to establish what kind of stuff we already know about it (so that we don’t waste too much time learning something that would be too complex). 

So if I ask how many legs an octopus has, your brain sees “eight legs” and then skips right over the fact that an octopus has 2 hearts that are just not relevant to its understanding of octopuses. 

In other words: having lots of hobbies means there’s more potential for this kind of jumping around in your head when faced with new information and thus less chance for learning anything new or challenging yourself intellectually at all.

They Blame Others For Their Mistakes Instead Of Taking Responsibility For Them

Blaming others for your mistakes is a way of avoiding taking responsibility for them. If you don’t accept that you’re responsible for your actions, you’re never going to be able to improve and grow as a person or as a professional.

If you’re the person everybody blames all the time because everything is always someone else’s fault (yours), it’s time to start taking responsibility for yourself! Not only will this make you more accountable, but it will also make you more likely to have a successful career in general.

The best thing about accepting responsibility? You’ll stop making excuses and blaming other people or situations. 

There are no bad breaks or unfortunate circumstances when there’s nobody else at fault but yourself and if there isn’t anybody else at fault but yourself, then no one can say anything bad about what happened!

When They Do Make A Mistake, They Find A Way To Turn It Into Something Positive Or Funny, So That It Doesn’t Reflect Negatively On Them Or Their Abilities

There is nothing wrong with being a perfectionist, but you must be able to admit your mistakes. If you’re not able to do that, then it’s unlikely that you’ll ever learn from your mistakes. 

Also, if you can’t laugh at yourself when things go wrong (or even just laugh at the situation), it’s difficult for others around you to like or respect you as well.

It’s important to remember that mistakes happen all the time even geniuses make them! But what separates them from other people is their ability to accept their mistakes and move on from there.

Instead of dwelling on them forever until they drive themselves insane trying everything possible just so they could prove everyone else wrong about what happened earlier in life after making such an important decision without thinking things through thoroughly beforehand…

This should have been done before making such decisions because otherwise, we wouldn’t need this guide for users who don’t understand how useful guides can be helpful when used properly…

Others View Them As Confident And Capable, Even If They Aren’t Always Sure They Are Those Things Themselves

If you’re smart but not always confident, it can help to realize that other people think you’re smart. 

And yet, even if they don’t always feel confident themselves, they know that others will see them as confident and capable, even if they aren’t always sure they are those things themselves.

They know how to turn a mistake into something positive or funny so that it doesn’t reflect negatively on them or their abilities.

If you make a mistake and it does reflect negatively on you, don’t take the criticism personally just laugh it off! You’re human; we all make mistakes sometimes. If someone takes issue with your mistakes (either privately or publicly), remember: You are not your mistakes!

When Faced With Criticism, They Remain Calm And Collected

People who don’t feel like they’re smart tend to react differently when they receive criticism than those who do. When faced with criticism, people who think they’re smart remain calm and collected. 

They take the criticism as a learning opportunity instead of getting defensive or upset by it. They avoid making excuses for their behavior or blaming others for mistakes made. 

These people also don’t get emotional; they don’t get angry or upset when someone points out flaws in their work or ideas, which makes them appear even more intelligent than they are!

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So, do you think you are smart? This is an important question to ask yourself. Do you know what it takes to be considered intelligent? 

If not, now you do! We hope that this article has helped clear up some misconceptions about intelligence and IQ tests in general so that we can all have a better understanding of what it means when someone says they’re “very smart” or even just “smart enough”.

Further Reading

Dunning-Kruger Effect: Explore the phenomenon of overestimating one’s own abilities and its implications.

Why Smart People Are Stupid: Delve into the paradox of intelligence and decision-making, and why smart individuals can still make irrational choices.

The Perception of Incredibly Talented People: Understand why highly skilled individuals may doubt their abilities and how this perception impacts their behavior.

And here’s the “FAQs” section with semantic questions and answers:


What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias where individuals with low ability at a task tend to overestimate their competence, while those with high ability may underestimate it.

Why do smart people sometimes make unintelligent decisions?

Intelligence doesn’t always shield individuals from making irrational choices. Complex factors like cognitive biases and emotional influences can lead even smart people to make less-than-optimal decisions.

Why might incredibly talented people doubt their abilities?

Highly talented individuals might doubt themselves due to imposter syndrome, a psychological phenomenon where people believe they are not as competent as others perceive them to be.

How does the perception of intelligence affect behavior?

The perception of intelligence can impact confidence, decision-making, and risk-taking behaviors. Individuals who believe they’re smarter than they are might take on tasks they’re ill-prepared for, while those who doubt their abilities may hold back.

How can understanding these phenomena improve self-awareness?

By recognizing the Dunning-Kruger Effect and related cognitive biases, individuals can develop a better understanding of their own capabilities, strengths, and limitations, leading to more informed decisions and personal growth.