Last night I came across a great article explaining how smart people are just as susceptible to bias and false beliefs as anyone – and, in fact, how smart people are more adept at justifying these false beliefs:

“Smart people will usually be able to brush off criticism since they are convinced they are right and, due to their thinking abilities, can probably out-argue most criticism even if the criticism is right.”
- The Dangers of Being Smart

This fits perfectly with my own thoughts on members of Mensa, where I found many people with astounding IQs clinging to horrendously stupid beliefs:

I was appalled at how many Mensans are in to what we collectively term ‘New Age’ spirituality. From astrologers to energy healers, from psychics to homeopaths, Mensa boasts a frightening abundance of people who have thrown every last remnant of rationality and common sense overboard and have committed themselves entirely to plainly ridiculous ideas.

Not only that, I got the distinct impression that these people felt that their membership of Mensa – their high IQ – was a vindication of their beliefs. “I’m smart,” they seem to argue, “so what I believe is right.”

Now I am of course keenly aware that I’m not immune to this conceit either, and that there’s a strong possibility my own beliefs are equally flawed and that I use my own intellect to justify them, even when faced with valid criticism.

Unfortunately, being aware of bias and prejudice does not make you immune to it. That’s something we’d all do well to keep in mind, I reckon.