5 Ways to Be Smarter and Less Stupid

You may or may not have heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect, which came about from a study in 1999. This cognitive bias concluded that those who are unsmart and unskilled are actually unaware of their incompetence and unintelligence while the smart ones are aware, but tend to fill with doubt. Basically, dumb people think they are great.

Very few of us in the world are considered geniuses, therefore there’s alway room to improve our intelligence so that we’re a little less dumb and oblivious to our stupidity. The Dunning-Kruger effect offers the following suggestions to give your brain a boost.


  1. Socialise. An active social life is healthy, even for introverts. In an interview for Vox, Dunning quotes, “a lot of the issues or problems we get into, we get into because we’re doing it all by ourselves. We’re relying on ourselves. We’re making decisions as our own island, if you will. And if we consult, chat, schmooze with other people, often we learn things or get different perspectives that can be quite helpful.” Dunning has a point here – great ideas are usually formed through brainstorming with others.


  1. Calculate probabilities. Rather than focusing on certainties, focus on how probable future events and goals are. This will result in better decision making and future predicting. For example, switch your questioning from, “Will this happen?” to “What are the chances that this will happen?”


  1. Catastrophize. While it’s not positive thinking, when making a big decision, it’s always best to consider the worst case scenario. Understanding this can help you make wiser decisions to prevent the worst from happening.


  1. Understand facts are facts. Opinions can not be formed around facts and we have to keep that in mind. A fact is something that is proved to be true and we have no right changing or judging the truth. For example, if asked how the job market is – answer with the truth, not what your take on it is.


  1. Be modest. It is completely okay to not know the answer to a question or how to do something – that applies to all human beings. Sometimes we let our ego get in the way by fabricating answers and explanations, which only lead to future complications. Focus on being modest and getting comfortable saying, “I don’t know.” You are human at the end of the day, not Google.