Smart people are usually liars

Original content is hard. Where did I come up with all of that energy?

Anyway, Ron Guhname touched on a topic near and dear to my heart.

In his new book The Folly of Fools, Robert Trivers hypothesizes that smart people are more likely to tell lies. This surprised me since I usually assume that intelligent people tend to act more prosocially. According to Trivers, if you compare across species, deception increases with intelligence. Better deception and manipulation require more mental ability. Do Smart People Lie More?
Ron Guhname

Readers of my old blog will remember I said something to this effect, with a touch of racism added. I just wouldn’t be me without the racism.

Less intuitive is this idea:

By they way, Trivers seems to think that bright people not only deceive more; they are also more likely to self-deceive, which is contrary to what most intelligent people think about themselves.


I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback by the suggestion, being roughly a three-sigma guy myself. On the other hand…it does match my observations of other smart people. I suppose my ego can survive the idea if it’s a problem with other people OH, DAMMIT.

About Aeoli Pera

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3 Responses to Smart people are usually liars

  1. mobiuswolf says:

    I’ve found the opposite to be true. Smart people can see all the reasons not to lie.
    I think Clarey said that.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      There’s smart and there’s smart, and the former comprise a larger area under the bell curve.

      • mobiuswolf says:

        Good point. I have had very little exposure to anyone above 2sigma (until the internet.)
        My sample’s not relevant, except maybe in the broader picture.

        Morons rarely say anything true, except by accident. Mostly they posture, so it’s all lies. A large percentage only ever gets to be clever by “putting one over.”

        A lie is an assumption that you are smarter than your victim, or can at least outsmart them in this instance. Maybe people lie to those they think are stupid.

        I tend to think House is right.

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