5 Unexpected Downsides of High Intelligence
You know that phrase, "Ignorance is bliss"? There's a reason it's stuck around all these years. Because having the upper hand in intelligence might give you an advantage in some areas, like crossword puzzle solving and quantum physics-ing, but it also might just screw up your life forever.
Note: Stephen Hawking can talk about how dangerous AI will be in the future, but we're not worried. Because, as this Cracked Classic shows, the more dangerous dangerous robots gather, the more they'll sabotage their own well being, until all the Terminators work themselves to death while the ED-209s drown their inadequacy issues in robo-whiskey. So enjoy this article, and be less scared of robots. -Cracked
For instance, if you're smart ...
You're Probably a Night Owl -- And That's a Bad Thing
Recently, scientists discovered a quirky side effect to having a high IQ: You tend to stay up until later hours and get up later in the morning. That's right -- the more intelligent are also much more likely to be night owls. Which isn't such a surprise when you consider that intelligent people are infamous for burning the midnight oil to cram for tests, write papers, touch up those earnings reports, etc.
And spending reports.
It appears to just be evolution -- the more intelligent members of a species are, in general, the first to change habits (their big brains are wired to seek out novelty). Since humans have been day-dwellers during most of their existence, it's primarily the smarties who prefer to habitually stay up until the wee hours and to do the types of tasks that are easier to accomplish when you don't have the day-dwellers hanging around and distracting you. Stuff that requires concentration, in other words.
So let the early birds keep their measly worms. The nights owls get to feast on the juicy field mice of accomplishment!
So What's the Problem?
Well, being a night owl does have some negative side effects. And by "some" we mean, "You're pretty much screwed."
And we mean REALLY screwed.
For starters, studies have found that "eveningness" is associated with a high degree of emotional instability. That means you tend to be less agreeable and conscientious than the average Joe. Oh, and you don't just make others' lives miserable. Thanks to your late-night habits, likely brought on by high intelligence, you're also three times more likely to suffer symptoms of depression.
And the fun doesn't end there, geniuses! Turns out that, short of becoming a competitive asbestos eater, staying up late at night is about the worst thing you could do for your physical health. According to a number of studies, night owls are at higher risk for heart disease and suffer more arterial stiffness than those who go to bed early.
It's important to note, however, that not all night owls are geniuses.
The direct cause might have less to do with the fact that you stay up than with some of the other things you're doing while your eyes get all nice and bloodshot. You see, people who tend to stay up late also tend to do other unhealthy things at night, such as overeating. Then, once they do eventually hit the hay, they experience more sleep interruptions when those pesky morning larks get up and start noisying about.
All this adds up to some nasty artery stress and whacked-out circadian rhythms, a nice recipe for a massive coronary. So be sure to thank those dumbass early risers and your high intelligence for your inevitable heart attack.
Causes of death: Morning-type wife and a 155 IQ.
You're Less Likely to Pass On Your Genes
Another unfortunate stereotype of smart people is that they're socially awkward nerds who are doomed to lives of celibacy until they get out of high school hell. Unfortunately, that one turns out to be totally true.
But it's not all bad news. There's evidence that the highly educated get more enjoyment out of sex than the dumb jocks and that really, all the lovin' you need to be happy comes from having sex with just one partner per year. So even the nerdlingers among us can find one person to get along with, then have highly enjoyable loser-geek sex, eventually leading to populating the planet with loser-geek children, right?
"Timmy! You'd better not be drawing dicks on my math!"
So What's the Problem?
Smart boy, please. Those genes you're carrying aren't going any-goddamn-where. Unbeknownst to the smarties, their education levels and IQ are conspiring to keep them childless and perhaps leading them to adopt 30 cats when they're in their late 70s.
It all starts with the smart ladies. A 2008 national census reported that women who had dropped out of high school had the most children on average. And the more education women achieved, the fewer children they were likely to have, with the fewest children being born to women who had finished graduate school.
The explanation, according to the Census Bureau, is simple: Women wanted to finish school before they were saddled with nine months of fetus-carrying. Then, for smart people of both sexes, there's the career to think about, and promotions, and who has time for a needy mini-human during all that? And of course, IQ plays a direct role here, since it has also been found that women with lower IQs are less likely to know how to use birth control properly, leading to more unplanned pregnancies.
"OK, but I'll need a glass of water. I can't swallow them dry."
But that's just the ladies. The smart fellas must be picking up the slack somehow, right? Maybe by getting a little dumb-girl nookie on the side? Not so. Research shows that countries with high national IQs tend to have lower childbirth rates in general compared with countries that can't collectively tie their shoelaces together. That's right -- entire nations are missing the evolutionary point of fucking as their IQs rise.
You're More Likely to Lie
The problem with being the smartest guy in the room is that you usually know you're the smartest guy in the room. For some people, that's not a big deal. They can relate to others just fine and know how to navigate around everyone else's deficiencies without being complete pricks. Others, however, know they have an intellectual edge and can't help but abuse it.
So What's the Problem?
In addition to giving you an advantage in brainpower, IQ apparently also bestows the gift of deception.
"Me? No, it was already like this when I got here."
After all, in order to lie and get away with it, you also have to keep the truth in mind and manipulate it, and you might even have to cover up your lies upon further questioning. All of this involves integrating several brain processes in much the same way that you would solve a complex calculus problem. This means that the age at which you start lying, and the effectiveness with which you do it throughout your life, are controlled by how smart you are.
In one study, scientists put people in brain-imaging machines and found that the regions of the brain that light up when a person metaphorically sets his pants on fire are the same that control "executive functioning." These are high-order thinking and reasoning abilities that include working memory, which, you guessed it, is the single biggest component of your IQ.
Suuuuure, Mr. Hawking. The universe is expanding and boundless. We're onto your game!
Another study simply tracked the tendency of children to lie as they got older (that is, as that aforementioned part of their brains developed). The researchers simply placed young kids in a room with a toy Barney under a cloth and told the kids not to peek at the toy when the researchers left the room.
They later conducted the same test, replacing the toy with a live cobra.
Of course, 9 out of 10 kids totally peeked, but the percentage of kids who lied about whether they peeked grew as the kids got older. At age 2, 25 percent of the kids lied about peeking; at age 3, half lied; and by age 4, 90 percent of the kids who peeked at the purple dinosaur refused to admit their guilt. That would also seem to imply that the 25 percent of kids who fibbed at age 2 possessed higher cognitive abilities than their peers.
In other words, if you want to know whether your kid is gifted, simply track the specific age at which he starts trying to bullshit you. Speaking of which ...
You're More Likely to Believe Bullshit
We're sure that at some point, someone has told you that you can't get anywhere without an education, and for the most part, they're right. And you're much more likely to pursue that education if you're starting out with a high IQ. According to renowned intelligenceologists who painstakingly measured every goddamn thing that you can associate with IQ, test scores were "the best single predictor of an individual's years of education."
Though some measurements were admittedly questionable.
Why? Well, their theory goes that smarter students do better in school (Cracked breaks new ground yet again!), which leads to more encouragement from teachers and parents, which in turn leads to more motivation to stay in school, then yadda yadda yadda, bingo-bango, master's degree in economics!
So What's the Problem?
It turns out that all this book learnin' is teaching you more than just the Pythagorean theorem -- it's also making it easier for you to believe some laughably wrong and even seriously weird stuff.
One problem is that education leads to one overall inaccurate belief: You think you're smarter than you are. Three studies have found that people who fall for investment scams are better-educated than the average person but don't seek advice because they think they're immune to making mistakes. In one study, researchers found that 94 percent of college professors think their work is superior to their peers'. These fellows fail to realize that intelligence doesn't always translate to real-world ability, and thus they tend to overestimate the quality of their work.
Whoa! Sure is getting crowded at the smart end of the bell curve. Right, guys?
It seems to go back to the old saying about how the wisest man is the one who realizes he knows nothing. Or, as Michael Shermer, the author of Why People Believe Weird Things, puts it: "Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons."
That's why the more education you get, the more likely you are to believe in, say, ghosts and the supernatural. One study found that 23 percent of college freshman believed in the paranormal, compared with 31 percent of seniors and 34 percent of graduate students. Which leads us to wonder ... what the fuck are schools teaching these days?
You're More Likely to Be Self-Destructive
On one hand, it seems like the smarter you are, the greater your ability to know the dangers of, say, shooting heroin. So self-destructive habits are traits of the low-class and stupid, right? Eh, not really...
The thing is, the great minds have something in common with proverbial death-prone kitties: curiosity. Researchers have finally begun to understand the link between curiosity and intelligence on the molecular level, thanks to scientists from the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital who discovered a protein in an under-explored part of the brain that controls both traits.
It's always in the last place you look.
Makes sense. Weird shit like monkey-powered time machines can be invented only by people with enough brain smarts to make them work and enough curiosity to want to see such awesomeness in the first place.
So What's the Problem?
Extra-curious people are also extra-likely to be substance abusers.
British scientists published the results of a long-term study showing that smart people were more likely to be drunks. People who fell into the "very bright" category (IQs of 125 or greater) were not only more likely to experiment with alcohol but also were more likely to drink excessively and binge drink than their dimwitted counterparts.
These men are living, breathing supercomputers.
And yeah, they pretty much found the same link between high intelligence and psychoactive drug use. It also turns out that intelligent people are much more likely to indulge in illicit substances such as marijuana, Ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. The smarter you are, the more likely you are to be tripping balls at any given moment.
"Duuuuude. We should totally rent The Wall tonight!"
As for why, remember when we said earlier that smart people's brains seek out novelty and thus are the first to experiment with any new habit? Well, one theory explaining the link between substance abuse and intelligence is that both alcohol and drugs are novel substances, in evolutionary terms. Humans have been consuming alcohol for only about 10,000 years, and the earliest recorded drug was only 5,000 years ago. So when something is novel, the curiouser and most intelligent among us are more likely to want to try it out.
You know. For science.
You don't need to be smart. Just buy our book and we'll get your back.
To find out why you're a terrible person, check out 6 Weird Things That Influence Bad Behavior More Than Laws. And find out why grandpa's past are hiked up so high in 6 Obnoxious Old People Habits (Explained by Science).
And stop by Linkstorm because NEEEEEERRRRRDDDDS!
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!