“Knowledge is power.” This popular axiom assumes intelligence leads to objective truth. Yet the smartest among us often cling to bizarre beliefs. What explains this paradox? Let’s dive into why education doesn’t guarantee rationality.

The Surprising Role of Intelligence in Ideological Bias

A 2013 Yale study stunned academics by finding intelligence actually increases political bias. Further research revealed that while smart people can evaluate statistics objectively, they ignore data contradicting their partisan views.

Numerous studies have confirmed this correlation between intelligence and irrational bias. Apparently, critical thinking skills readily serve to justify pre-existing worldviews.

Our Brains Didn’t Evolve for Truth Seeking

The orthogonality thesis from AI posits intelligence simply means effectively achieving goals, not pursuing truth. Human intelligence evolved to aid social cohesion and personal well-being, not impartial analysis.

We adopt Fashionably Irrational Beliefs (FIBs) that offer social rewards and status but fall apart under scrutiny. Yet education makes us better at rationalizing biases rather than overcoming them.

When Intelligent People Become Ideology’s Minions

A phenomenon called Identity-Protective Cognition (IPC) binds our intelligence to our egos. People skillfully use their reasoning abilities not for objective analysis, but to protect their identities and justify irrational positions.

This can have dangerous societal impacts when biased elites spread misinformation across institutions. Examples range from wokeism to pro-slavery advocates of centuries past.

Escaping the Trap Through Curiosity and Humility

Education about biases is ineffective alone. We need character development – traits like curiosity and humility that counteract ego-driven closed-mindedness.

Rationality requires using intelligence as a tool for truth, not just winning arguments. By fostering qualities like honesty and open-mindedness, we can think rationally, however smart we may be.


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