The Downsides of Being Smart
A podcast listener named Amy Young writes in with interesting comments about our recent “Can You Be Too Smart For Your Own Good?” episode:
As I hold a Ph.D., I too feel well qualified to speak on topics I know nothing about. Actually, the Ph.D. is in psychology, I am somewhat qualified to speak about the topic; however, most of my info comes from having a very bright son and having to do a lot of research to try to figure out how to raise him.
One downfall of being particularly bright is that you are often lonely. You see and think of stuff that most other people don’t see or understand, so it can be hard to feel a genuine connection with most others. What is really exciting to you goes right over the heads of most others. As you get older this gets to be easier to solve by finding your flock, but I think loneliness in the formative years always sticks to you.
Another downfall is that exceptionally bright people have a high drop-out rate from school, particularly high school. It seems counterintuitive until you spend a day in our public school system. Bright kids see school as not providing any useful information and find it creates a lot of boring busy work. On that note, a really great topic for you to explore is the economic impact of the teacher’s union’s stronghold on the American public education system.
Also, in terms of gender and smarts, a downfall of being bright is social exclusion, which can be devastating for most girls. As for the low marriage rates among bright women, I think most bright women avoided marriage in the past as it often meant staying home to perfect souffles and iron underwear. I would imagine that to be torturous for bright women and could possibly be the inspiration for the Rolling Stones’ song “Mother’s Little Helper.”