Intelligence (or lack of) and talking, and talking, and talking

I’ve made this observation to a few other people, some close friends and others not-as-close coworkers, and we all seem to agree: It seems like the less intelligent (as in slightly below average IQ, not necessarily a “disabled” level) someone is, the more they yammer, and yammer about nothing. Talking constantly, yet never really saying anything of substance, and not getting any hints to just shut up for a while.

I work at an animal shelter full-time and an animal ER part time. At the shelter, there are a few volunteers (a definite minority, thank og) who are there for solely selfish reasons and do nothing but talk and talk and talk at the employees who are trying to work and make good use of our donor’s money. We try to be nice, and end up just having to leave the area and find another place to work so they won’t be “offended” by our asking them to go somewhere else and, you know, pet a cat or something - which is what they’re supposed to be here for.

At the ER, it’s clients. Instead of listening and trying to understand what we’re telling them, whether it’s finance related or pet-health related, they just talk over us and don’t listen to anything. And the talking is not about their pet, or if it is, it’s about stuff that’s not relevant at all to why they’re visiting the ER.

I put this in IMHO because even though there may be a factual answer (which is really what I’m looking for if anyone has it), it can be fun to speculate and share anecdotes, too.

What is the mechanism that seems to cause not-so-smart people to talk, and talk, and talk, without managing to really say anything? Is listening, or just not yapping all the time, truly a skill of average to above average intelligence?

Any experts in psychology or cognition out there who can shed some light?

I had this very same thought while watching Lou Dobbs tonight.

What indeed.:rolleyes:
There is an old saying “better to say nothing and have people think you a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

But the factual answer is that stupid people probably don’t talk more than smart people. Plenty of dumb people just sit there being dumb. They just don’t say anything stupid.

It’s more a function of personality type. According to the Myers-Briggs personality types, certain personality types externalize their thought process while others internalize it. But ultimately they may come to the same conclusions.

Although I still can’t figure out how prefering “irrational” (perceiving) functions like sensing and intuition over “rational” (judging) functions like thinking and feeling isn’t just a polite way of saying “stupid”.

I was watching TV with my 80 year old Mom today. Mom is hooked on “Judge” shows and following one of them was The Wendy Williams show. This garish top-heavy nobody sat there and yakked and yakked and yakked about nothing at all until I thought I was going to scream. I never heard such a tsunami of noise about nothing, it was like some kind of robot with a voice box running amok. I thought Kathy Lee and Hoda on the Today Show loved the sound of their own voices, but this bimbo was in a class by herself.

I’ve noticed it, especially in places like public transportation. Maybe they know they’re stupid but they just want attention.

I just got done watching the latest episode of “The Big Break”, a golf themed reality show. One of the contestants, Andrew, is driving the other contestants nuts with his inability to shut up. He’s Andrew Guiliani, son of Rudy, and a Duke University student. Now, he does seem to be a real jerk (he sued Duke when he got cut from the golf team) but I don’t think he is of low intelligence.

Actually I find ignorant people tend to be more quiet so people won’t discover they are ignorant, but there’s no real correlation. Smart can be quiet or talky, and so can dumb, but dumb usually (IMO) is a little quieter overall.

Is this the same little demon thatwas going nuts during Giuliani’s initial inauguration as NYC Mayor?

I agree that the perceived correlation is probably confirmation bias.

Let’s say a person can be either talkative or quiet, and either stupid or smart. Well, a quiet person could be either stupid or smart, and you wouldn’t know, because they wouldn’t be constantly yammering.

A talkative smart person might not be so annoying, because even though they talk a lot, what they say is relevant. And maybe they notice other people, and so they manage to wait a few seconds for another person to finish yammering before they can go back to their precious pontificating.

A talkative dumb person is going to be annoying, and the worst part is that they don’t notice they’re annoying, because they’re too dumb to notice.

Ignorant and dumb aren’t synonyms.

Everyone wants to think they are smart. I think talking must be a dumb person’s way of making themselves feel smarter than they are. Smart people are thinkers. Don’t thinking and talking use different parts of the brain? When you talk your brain has to sort of juggle its attention. This has to have a detrimental effect on the quality of thought.

I suspect any perception that people who talk a lot are stupid comes from the fact that as far as I can tell the great majority of just about any one’s thoughts are trivial or silly. If someone says what they are thinking much of the time, you’ll be hearing the kind of random thoughts that non-talkers won’t let you hear. And most of those random thoughts will be things like “Boy that itches”, “that splotch looks kinda like a face”, “I need to do the dishes”, “Mmmm, I sure like spaghetti”; and other less than profound musings. The quiet guy won’t be thinking anything more cosmic; but he won’t be letting you hear his random thoughts.

My sister is a moron and she never shuts up. I once performed my own little personal experiment while out to dinner with her. I didn’t say a single word for two hours. She never stopped talking- I don’t think there was any silence longer than a minute. She also never noticed that I wasn’t saying anything back to her. There were long stretches where I just tuned out and didn’t even nod, make eye contact, or say “uh huh.” It’s like she doesn’t even care who is at the receiving end of her endless stream of blather, as long as they have a pulse.

I don’t know. I think about profound cosmic things all the time, even when I’m in the midst of a conversation. Far more often than I think about how a blotch looks like a face. In fact when I see a blotch that looks like a face, it will cause me to ponder what is it about the blotch that makes me think of a face. What is it about us humans that makes us try to see faces all the time? Then I’ll start to go off on some philosophical tangent in my mind. I don’t think that people who talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk nonstop even have time to muse about any sort of deep thought. They seem to get distracted far too easily. Very short attention spans kind of limit intelligent thought.

Three friends (Me and two other people) sitting in the living room. Alcohol is involved. Friend one (F1) likes to yammer on and on about stuff. This guy is famous in our circle for telling old HS stories that we’ve all heard a hundred times before.

To be fair, the stories he tells are quite intresting and very funny at times. Especially the way he tells them. But after hearing them a hundred times they become trite to say the least.

Anyway, here’s a typical transaction with the aforementioned three friends:

F1: "Hey man, did I ever tell you about how I threw the senior graduation party?

F2: “Yeah, dude, like a hundred times already.”

F2: “Well, me and my buddies sold tickets…”

F1: "Yeah, yeah, we know, you sold tickects then went and bought a bunch of kegs. "

F!: “We went and bought a bunch of kegs and…”


F1 " Yeah, but let me tell you this part."

F2: “Dude we’ve heard it already!”

F1: “So we get the kegs and on the way to the…”

F2: “You’re not gonna listen to me are ya?”

F1: “…field where we were gonna”

F2: :rolleyes: “Well I guess he’s gonna keep blathering on. (He’s talking directly to me now) So Shakes, how’s work been treat’n ya’?”

Me: “Oh it’s been pretty good…”

Me and F2 continued to have a private conversation while F1 blathered on in the background about his senoir party for another 15 minutes or so. I was truely amazed at my friends ability to tell his story with out missing a beat dispite no one was listening to him.

I suspect this is a large part of the problem, as it is quite likely that a low IQ person also has a low “social intelligence”. Also, as others have alluded to, there may be impulse control issues where they simply speak stream-of-consciousness without any filtering or discretion.

As a final thought, I suspect many such people are unlikely to have the ability or opportunity to express their thoughts in other mediums, so they rely more heavily on verbal communication.

Smart people do all their thoughtless jabbering on message boards, where anyone can ignore it and usually does.

I don’t see that the talkative people are as a group of lower intelligence. It’s just that when you can’t shut up you have to spout a lot of inane twaddle that over shadows anything intelligent that people can recognize. I have an intelligent close relative like this. They are still annoying as hell, and I wouldn’t encourage them to talk so I could learn something.

There’s no correlation with intelligence. Plenty of college professors and lawyers fit your description.

I think there are several reasons why people talk too much and, in my experience, it has nothing to do with intelligence.

Sometimes there are external factors, like stress and anxiety. If you are observing a stranger yammer on, it might not be typical behavior for them but you wouldn’t know that. For example, my Mom was caught in a bank robbery once and had a gun put to her head. This was a very traumatic event for her, as I’m sure you can imagine. Anyway, that was a long time ago and she still gets very nervous when she has to go inside a bank. I’ve noticed that she talks nonstop the entire time she’s in one, just yammering about anything and everything. If you didn’t know her, you might assume that she’s a stupid woman who never shuts up but that’s not true at all.

I also think that most people who talk incessantly, with no regard for the people they are “conversing” with, are mostly extremely self-involved and lack awareness both of how other people are feeling and how other people see them. I know both very intelligent and less intelligent people who do this.

I think there’s a smaller group of people who talk a lot because they’re insecure in general (even though insecure people who don’t talk much is probably a larger group). Again, I know both very intelligent and less intelligent people who do this.

I think it is a combination of Social Retardation, where they think that if there is a silence in the conversation that they have a need to take all the oxygen in the room and fill it with words.

It is, IMHO of 20+ years of dealing with a few members of my inlaws, a combination of boredom and a lack of social opportunity.

I’ve always noticed that the conversation this particular blowhard always talks about is whatever is the hot topic on FoxNews, which means Socialism is EVUL, Obama is EVUL and so on. If I knew how to block this channel on his cable, he would probably go nuts.

(For another blowhard, she grew up on an island and her social experiences are very limited. So all she really ever talks about is her kids, scrapbooking and soap operas.) She isn’t a horrible person at all, but riding in the car with her to bowling every wednesday nearly made me throw myself out of the moving vehicle.

Their entire world is in a bubble and they assume we live in that bubble and wish to discuss that bubble. It is self induced ignorance.
I just sit there an knit.