What Affects the Quality of Your Thinking? (It’s Not Just Intelligence)

The quality of your thinking depends so much on your character. The company you keep is also important.

It’s not that intelligence doesn’t play a role. It’s just insufficient. Intelligent people don’t necessarily think with depth, either generally or in response to specific topics. There’s no guarantee that they’ll ever investigate their own opinions or question their own conclusions with any seriousness.

They may use their mental agility to deflect substantive pieces of evidence, anything that contradicts their view of “how things are.” These deflections can be harmful, shutting down important questions and preventing a much-needed discussion.

Intelligent people may be clever at crafting rationalizations or arguments that seem well-structured. Many times, they don’t question whether they’re behaving with integrity; it’s enough that other “right-minded” people are expressing the same thoughts. They may prioritize “owning” someone in an argument over learning anything. Or they use their intelligence mostly for snark and viciousness.

An intelligent mind may be a lazy mind. It may be narrow or given to exceptional dishonesty. (Context matters too. An individual can display in-depth thinking in one area of life while remaining superficial or dishonest in other areas – and either not recognizing the superficiality or not being troubled by it, because it doesn’t cost them social approval.)

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