Human beings often make a pretty simple mistake when it comes to smarts: We assume that intelligence is fungible (“mutually interchangeable”). If someone is smart over here, it stands to reason they would be smart over there. Right?
We know that the scope of intelligence is exceedingly narrow. It has been shown time and time again that, say, success in business does not translate to success running a government agency. It is now a trope that just because someone exceeds in sales, that doesn’t mean they will succeed in sales management. Yet we continue to ignore this evidence, and barrel ahead as always.
Worse, however, I think we make the mistake on the flip side as well. We assume that because someone struggled at one task, they will struggle with them all. If they can’t understand medical issues, there is no way they will be able to disentangle interpersonal issues. Or, more simply, if they are wrong in one part of their argument, then their entire claim is false.
I think this last one last one is the most egregious. No one is good enough to be 100% wrong, and shame on me if I take joy in exploiting someone’s logical/rhetorical misstep in order to win an argument, make myself feel better, or use it to hide my own failings.
If I’m not careful, I just might rule out a potential teacher because they make the mistake of ordering their beef well-done. That’s indicative of a corrupt human being, isn’t it? I’m not alone in this, am I?