Why smart people do dumb things
When driving a car on the highway and we want to change lanes we have always been told to check our blind spot, cause the car mirror has a huge blind spot where even a massive truck can hide. It’s the same with people. We live our life, using the front view and mirrors, but we rarely check our blind spot, and it’s here smart people do dumb shit. In blind spots, we investigate how smart people can do dumb things and the author goes through a total of 10 different blind spots.
Stupidity – Missing the obvious
The idea that something is, or should be “obvious” is at the heart of our judgment when we feel people are acting or thinking stupidly. Or other times when thinking about action in retrospect and the obvious thing to do you should have known or should have thought about was right in front of us, but you didn’t do it, instead you did something stupid cause our mental blind spot prevented us from doing the right thing.
The 10 blind spots
Blind spot 1: Not stopping to think
A mom, a virgin computer user, is on the phone whit his son, so he can describe step by step how to set up the computer. At one point the new user needed to open the door on his disk drive (yeah, it is an old example). After the son gave the instruction: now open the door, the mom then proceeds to open the office door. Everyone understands that opening the office door doesn’t make any sense regarding getting the new computer to work, she just did what made the most sense for her at that moment without taking a few seconds to think through – she didn’t stop to think. Our mind will do that sometimes when under emotional stress, like working towards a deadline or in a crisis situation. It can also occur in non-crisis situations when our mind is overloaded with information, cause our mind can only process so much information so when a new dilemma appears, you don’t have enough mental capacity to stop to think because your mind is already working on max capacity, so you end up doing something dumb.
Blind spot 2: What you don’t know can hurt you
Have you ever felt stupid for not knowing something, something that is common knowledge and everyone should just know like in a quiz and they ask the simplest question, but you don’t know the answer or operate a device that should be easy(like opening a porch door that is slightly more complicated than a normal door), but you have no idea how to use it. A man walks into a shopping mall for the first time, and tries to get to the second floor, the only way there is using the elevator(I know, I will probably be more ways to get to the second floor), the only problem he has, he has never seen an elevator in his life, in fact, he has been living in the forest his entire life, how can he know how to use an elevator, but people might think of him as stupid when he tries to use it and his attempts are not so successful.
Blind spot 3: Not noticing.
Our brain is programmed to habituate, not noticing the familiar. it protects our mind and brain from stimulation from impressions and sensory. When walking into a room, you notice the wonderful smell of pizza, and after a couple of minutes, you have become habituated to it.
It’s when we habituate and get used to what everyone is doing and situations that limit ourselves or damage others, things can become dangerous and the cost of this can be extremely high.
Stealing a physical object in a store is considered a crime, you will be marked a thief if caught, and friends and family would most likely alter how they perceive you, the shame would be great. But pirating a movie, which is basically the same as stealing it, is totally different. Here you would, almost with pride tell your friends that you have stolen a movie and society would not mark you a thief! Why is that? Cause its socially accepted and society has normalized it! We, the individual that has been growing up under these circumstances and becomes familiar with it has accepted it as our habit to not question it any further. Our circumstances have normalized it for us.
Sheer familiarity leads us to miss aspects of our surroundings that would be striking and obvious to others. For instance, you grow up in a family of racists, for you its been a part of your circumstances your whole life, so you turn out to be a racist yourself because it’s familiar. You may not go spread the word that you are a racist because that is no longer socially accepted like it was, but deep down, in your core identity, you are a racist because it is so implanted in you from the moment you were born.
You are having cocktails with your beloved sisters, you talk and have fun, and share stories. Both of them confine that sometimes when they visit friends they like to take sneak peek through their bathroom cabinet out of curiosity, not much, just a quick look. Your sisters have now normalized and made it familiar for you to sneak peek in others’ cabinet bathrooms and drawers cause they are your sisters and family who you trust very much. Your moral compass based on today’s society has been taken out of course regarding the action of sneek peaking in others people’s drawers. The action of sneak peaking has gone from being like stealing something physical to stealing a movie, you still know it is wrong but it is not as wrong as you tough before the evening spent with your sisters.
Blind spot 4: Not seeing yourself
have you ever seen someone doing something stupid and though to yourself: if only he could se himself?
People can and do have feelings and motives that influence their behavior without their awerness. To be more awere of oneself, it can be a good idea to get helpful feedback from friends and family.
But we know that experience can have huge impact on our lives. Yet we have alle seen people eho appear to have grown older without growing much wiser. Wisdom comes when we allow the experience to trasnform us rather than merely inform us. But this wisdom requires that we allow the experience to reveal something about ourselfes, something that we hade missed before.
Blind spot 5: My-side bias
Often people see the world from their own perspective and have a hard time seeing something from another person’s perceptive. This blind spot has an especially powerful impact on our relationships with others since it influences how we understand or fail to understand them.
Blind spot 6: Trapped by categories
Human beings have a natural inclination to see patterns and group things that are the same together. This is an impressive and helpful skill but also has its drawbacks. A woman has had her heart broken several times by men, and after the last time, she starts to resent them, she categorizes all men as bad, jerks, douchbags. Or categorize a person from a single action, he did y or said x, so I will categorize him in my y box. Let’s say a person comes with, in your point of view, rude remarks regarding something about you, this rude remark wasn’t meant rude from his side, he doesn’t perceive it as rude, but you do, so you get offended and categorize him as a rude person when he, in reality, is genuine a good person.
Blind spot 7:Jumping to conclusions
We often jump to conclusions based on our experiences. We hear of a terror attack in a neighboring country and many will immediately think of who can have done it.
Blind spot 8: Fuzzy evidence
We trust that the schoolbooks we read tell us what happens during the world war, or we trust the news telling us what happened on the other side of the world, a 7-year-old son trusts his father when he tells him that Santa Claus is real. Some trust a guy on YouTube telling us that vaccine is bad for you, other trust specific YouTube channels because they always refer to science or they act professional(according to us), but who do we trust when the expert disagree? Should we trust someone saying sugar is bad for you just because some doctor said it? Or should we trust the other doctor that says sugar is okay for you?
Often we accept information offered by those whose values and worldviews generally agree with our own, and we are skeptical of the information offered by those whose values and worldviews generally disagree with ours. This approach is a shortcut. It enables us to bypass the work involved in trying to figure out the truth about a matter, such as seeking evidence or investigating how reliable the source of that information is, We can’t investigate all information that we take in during a course of a day.
The downside of our general sense of trust in particular groups(that align with our worldview) is that at times, we blindly reject evidence that we should consider more seriously. At other times, we blindly accept evidence that we should scrutinize more carefully.
Blind spot 9: Missing hidden causes
When we really want to believe that something causes something else, we find a way to do so. People that think the earth is flat will find “evidence” for just that. People believe weird things because they want to: the beliefs console them, give them hope, or make them feel they can control what happens in their lives.
Blind spot 10: He can’t see the forest for the trees
Often we get caught up and fixated on the details, and we miss the big picture as not seeing the forest for the trees. We just focus on the individual trees, rather than see how the trees are connected to some larger whole – a whole forest.
Easy way out
Okay, hold on a little! Isn’t blind spots just an excuse for jerks and douchbags to have something to blame their behavior on? And for every future action, they can just say I have a blind spot. Sorry, I cheated I have a blind spot, Sorry I sneak peeked in your drawers I have a blind spot. But maybe it is possible to find a middle way because yes, people are irresponsible, selfish, greedy, and just bad person that is necessary to cut loose from our list of friends cause they will most likely do something bad in the future. Cutting people from our friend list is individual and based on previous interactions with others. Some will do it when cheating others might forgive it, some will do it if they find out their friend has been lying on a delicate topic, etc. But sometimes there is a genuine blind spot by persons of goodwill, and instead of condemning them, make them aware of their blind spot. They will hopefully acknowledge the blind spot, not blame it, and then do something about it, like adjusting their inner moral compass
As this book shows us, there can be many reasons why people seem stupid and do stupid things. A good person can commit a bad act because of a blind spot, his moral compass was of course, in this isolated incident. Other times the bad act can be a sign of what the person really is like, a major red flag and the best thing to do is get the hell away.
But in most cases, people are just being fucking stupid.