Phoenix Down

once smart people decide to believe a weird thing for whatever reason, it’s much harder to to convince them that their beliefs are flawed because they are that much better at poking holes in counterarguments.

That’s not quite it — if they were rational, and the counterarguments were valid, they would notice the contradiction and conclude that their position was incorrect.

The problem with smart people isn’t that they’re better at demolishing counterarguments, because valid counterarguments can’t be demolished. The problem with smart people is that they’re better at rationalization: convincing themselves that irrational positions are rational, invalid arguments are valid, and valid invalid.

A mind capable of intricate, complex thought is capable of intricate, complex self-delusion. Increasing the intricacy and complexity doesn’t lead to revelation, it just makes the potential for self-delusion increase.

It’s not intelligence that compensates for the weaknesses in intelligence. People who think that cleverness is everything do not cultivate perception and doubt. There’s a reason foxes are used as a symbol of error in Zen teachings, after all.


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