Are You as Intelligent as You Think You Are?

June 18, 2018

Most of us would like to think of ourselves as being intelligent.  But, are we as intelligent as we think we are?  In this blog we will address three characteristics that not only keep us from being intelligent, but instead make us appear ignorant.

 

  1. You have a blinding need to be right.

Most all of us have a driving force to be right.  Not only is this one of our most common aspects, it is also one of the most destructive.  It is ingrained so deeply within us, that we seldom take the time to acknowledge it.  It plays a part in virtually every area of our lives, from politics and religion, to todays debate over gun control, to the simplicity of winning an argument.  Our need to be right is one of the core issues for the division, conflict, hate and violence we see in the world today.

 

Why is the need to be right ignorant?

 

Instead of looking for peace, you fight to be right.  Instead of understanding there are at least two sides, your side is the only side.  Instead of trying to understand a different view, you simply dismiss it.  Instead of searching for “win/win” solutions, you seek a “win/lose” solution.

 

Why are we like this?

 

From our earliest childhood we have been rewarded for giving the “right” answer.  Our families taught us their version of what was right or true and when we exhibited behaviors that were consistent with their beliefs, we were praised for it, but if we questioned these beliefs, we were met with statements like, “because I said so”, or, “that’s just the way we do it.”  Instead of learning how to have a stimulating conversation discussing different viewpoints and challenging our own thought processes, we were taught to fall in line with what the family believed because that is where we found acknowledgement and reward. 

 

Then we entered the “competitive” environment of school.  Here we learned to “compete” with other children in a variety of areas, the grades we made on exams, the friends we hung out with, and the athletics we participated in, which were all centered around giving the “right” answers, saying the “right” things, and performing in the ‘right” way.  Instead of being rewarded for our creative thought process and asking thought provoking questions, we are rewarded for giving the “right” answer. Ironically, this can block true learning because it is more about memorization and conforming than it is about developing a well-rounded thought process.  It also promotes an environment where active listening does not take place.  Instead of actively listening to understand someone else’s position, we spend time formulating our own thought to give a response that supports our own position.

 

How do we see this play out?

 

It’s easy to see this play out today.  We are actively competing, about almost everything, to be right.  Whether it is Republican vs Democrat, one religion vs another religion, one race vs another race, or gun control vs no gun control, instead of having a stimulating conversation discussing different viewpoints and challenging each other’s thought processes, we simply argue with each other, with no progress toward resolution.

 

How do we change this?

 

We must understand that we have been conditioned to compete for the “right” answer.  Then, we must stop viewing life as a competition and start viewing it as a collaboration.  We need to begin to see that there can be multiple “right” answers, in other words, different ways to get to the same end, and we must stop thinking that our version of “right” must be right for everyone.  If we can see that other people are just as important as us, then we can stop arguing just to argue, and instead try to understand each other and work toward a mutual solution.

 

 

     2.  You see what you want to see.

 

We would like to think that we see things as they really are with no bias because we don’t want to admit that we only see what we want to see.  Before we dismiss this as being false, we need to understand how our brain works in the “why we are this way” section below.

Why is seeing what you want to see ignorant?

 

We lie to ourselves and think we see the total reality of a situation and that our bias does not affect how we see the world.  We think how we see the world is the “right” way to see the world and we totally dismiss any other way of seeing a situation besides our way.

 

Why are we like this? 

 

We are wired to see what we expect to see.  Our primary visual cortex has neurons that are affected by “higher” brain centers that are involved in predicting and planning, so our brain predicts what we will see.

 

The fact that, “what our brain is conditioned with is likely what we will see”, is called scotomisation.  The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines scotomisation as “to avoid or deny (an undesirable fact or reality) through the creation of a mental blind spot.”  So, our brain will block out what we don’t want to see and replace it with what we do want to see.

 

Most of us are familiar with looking at a picture and asked to tell what we see in the picture.  One of the most popular has both an old woman and a young woman in the picture.  Which image you see depends on how your brain shows it to you.  Different people see a different image, which gives us insight into two people looking at the same thing but seeing something completely different.

 

Another thing that happens in our brain is when we are focused on a specific thing, it is easy for us to miss something else presented right in front of us.  A 1979 video of two teams passing a basketball superimposed another video of a girl walking through the center of the screen.  The viewers were asked to count the number of times the basketball was passed.  Because they were focused on what they were “supposed” to see, 79% failed to see the girl.

 

Additional studies have also been conducted that show our stereotypes and biases also affect how we see things.  If we stereotype something, or have a bias against something, it will be very hard for us to see anything different than how we see that stereotype or bias. 

 

How do we see this play out?

 

The fact that our brain will not let us see anything other than how we see the world is evidenced by the fact that we can’t see our own nose even though it sticks out well in front of our eyes.  If we touch our finger to our nose, we can see our finger, but we still don’t see our nose.  This is because our brain filters out our nose as not being important to what we see.  This same thing happens with our stereotypes and biases.  Our brain filters out what we don’t want to see and replaces it with what we do want to see.  This again is why we can see an identical situation as someone else and each of us can see something completely different.  The difference we see is always bent to confirm our bias and need to be right.

 

How do we change this?

 

We must understand that we are conditioned to see what we want to see and that our stereotypes and biases shape what we see.  When we understand this, we will realize that we must make a concentrated effort to look at things from an opposing view and search out information in opposition to how we think and believe.  This will allow us to see information that can confront our stereotypes and biases.  When we humble ourselves and understand other people are just as important as us, we can try to understand how someone else sees things and work toward the best solution, taking both sides into account.

 

 

       3.   You don’t embrace change

 

Most of us tend to get in our comfort zone and stay there.  We like to stick with what we know instead of trying new things.  This causes us to fall into a routine that we repeat over and over.

 

Why is not embracing change ignorant?

 

Instead of wanting to continue to learn, we stay stuck in what already know.  Staying inside our comfort zone takes all the adventure out of life and falling into a routine causes us to get bored with life.  Unless we seek new information, our old thoughts will become obsolete.  Change will happen whether we embrace it or not.  We have seen for ourselves this happen time and time again, when something doesn’t adapt to change, it ceases to be relevant (if you don’t believe this to be true, check out our video, 3 signs you are ignorant, as it gives real life examples of this).

 

Why are we like this? 

 

We are creatures of habit and do things that make us feel good, secure and comfortable.  We have a built-in inertia, which is a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged, known as homeostasis, which helps maintain our state of equilibrium.  We also have areas of our brain that control our habits and conscious decision-making abilities called our basal ganglia, which are responsible for our “wiring” habits.  These nerves support our habits that make us feel good, or that we are familiar with.  Because of this, any type of change can go against the neural pathways that have become automatic to us. 

 

We can make a conscious decision to change, but this comes from a separate region of the brain called the neocortex, which requires much more effort than our familiar routine.

 

How do we see this play out?

 

Probably the easiest example to see this is in implementing a new weight loss routine.  Even though we know all the benefits we could see from it, time after time, we find it impossible to stick with it because our body is fighting against us.  Any change we want to make goes against our wiring to do nothing or remain unchanged, which means we will have to put out much more conscious effort to change than we would to stay in our familiar routine.  So, when it comes to our biases and stereotypes, we don’t seek to understand what is different than us because it requires extra effort to search out information that is outside of what we know.  As a result, we do not seek to embrace change because it requires extra effort to look outside our routine and understand what is different than us.

 

How do we change this? 

 

We must not give in to our temptation to be lazy, but instead make a conscious effort to continue to evolve and learn.  We must push ourselves to get outside our comfort zone and routine of life.  We must realize that we can be a part of the change that happens or be affected by the change that happens to us.  Ultimately, we must decide that we would rather be relevant than obsolete.

It’s up to us to choose!

 

To be as intelligent as we think we are, we’ll need to put forth the work necessary to overcome the need to be right, seeing only what we want to see, and fighting against embracing change.  This includes seeking out information different than what we know and being a part of change that will make the world a better place for everyone.  Ignorance, on the other hand, will choose to ignore these facts and carry on with its lazy, divisive and destructive ways. 

 

 

What will you choose?

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