Our quick, intense emotional reactions sometimes overwhelm our
rational brain, forcing us to over-react or misperceive the situation.
But it is our emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, located in
the prefrontal cortex, which enables us to understand and manage our
intense emotions. So, to be a good leader or a caring spouse or an
effective parent we need knowledge about emotions, control of our
feelings, and interpersonal skills. Of course, articulate speech and
technical knowledge are usually necessary to make accurate
predictions and accomplish goals too. But, high academic intelligence
(as measured by school achievement or intelligence tests) does not
give you much assurance that your judgment in many areas will be
accurate. Persons who do well in school, just like the "slow students,"
make the kind of thinking errors dealt with in this section.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the
About 300 years ago, John Locke (1632-1704), who influenced
Thomas Jefferson's drafting of the Constitution, said there were three
kinds of people who have mistaken opinions:
Those who accept hand-me-down beliefs from parents, friends,
ministers and others, and don't do much thinking for
Those who let their emotions and needs dominate their thinking
Those who try to be logical and reasonable but lack good sense
and/or expose themselves to only one viewpoint.
Locke was making a distinction between the inexperienced, poorly
educated, emotionally swayed mind and the highly intellectual,
objective, systematic, thorough, and logical mind. He was also making
the point that straight thinking and reasoning skills aren't just
inherited; accurate thinking is the result of inherited ability and a lot of
experience and wisdom. Recent research, according to Herbert Simon
at Carnegie Mellon University, has shown that a true "expert" needs
enormous stored knowledge (10+ years of intense study and practice),
a mind capable of systematically searching that memory for useful
information, and the skill to detect defective, distorted thinking. Being
smart isn't just a matter of being born that way.
How do we, even the more intelligent and expert among us, come
to misunderstand the situation and/or draw erroneous conclusions?
This is important for us to understand. The usual conception is that we
have a logical, reasonable mind which is somehow occasionally