Why ‘Leaders’ Aren’t Smart

Friday, August 28th, 2009

When she was on Letterman, Tina Fey diplomatically questioned Sarah Palin’s intelligence:

I see her and think she’s as smart as I am. I want someone smarter than that in the White House.

Eric Falkenstein considers it naive to expect smart leaders:

If you have an IQ above, say, 130, you can’t mouth the inconsistent platitudes with sufficient sincerity to be elected leader. That is, a really smart person can’t in good conscience say that ‘giving to the United Way is the most important thing we do here at Amalgamated Financial’, or that you listen to each customer suggestion on various product releases. It’s BS, but the troops need to hear it, so they get the only people who actually can champion such inconsistent policies. Both Obama and McCain are overselling a load of policies that won’t change much, except for the new government bureacrats in charge (as opposed to the people they are supposed to help), but that ‘not-so-bright’ mindset was necessary to win their party’s nomination. Someone with a painful sense of the obvious and inconsistent, would be seen as not sufficiently inspiring to the masses, as I’m sure he would not be. So we give the people what they want, good and hard.

Humans live in a ‘reverse dominance hierarchy’, so that a leader too dominant, not sufficiently deferential, will not be chosen to lead. Humans hate hubris in their leaders more than anything else, and so a smart guy, who can’t fake appreciating the vastly more numerous pedestrian managers out there, will not get enough support. Anyone with a sufficiently high IQ, to be consciously faking there enthusiasm for the pap they are pushing, is so evil they are much worse. Thus, be happy with the stupid 125 IQ guys, it’s as good as it’s gonna get. The exceptions you see, mainly, are really smart founders who often created their product.

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