Is superior intelligence the equivalent of overall superiority?

A guy I know has the attitude and behavior of someone who thinks he is smarter and more knowledgable than everyone else. His behavior is offputting to me, but somehow it does not seem to derail his career one bit. One day I confronted him, and to my surprise, he admitted both things as true as if it were something obvious, and he had no shame of others knowing his feelings.

What I did not ask is whether he thought he was superior to everyone in general, not just intelligence; and now that I think of it, whether those are the same things. I found his ego to be offensive, bizarre, but also fascinating, and questioned whether in fact he could be right, at least in concept. The whole situation made me wonder more generally, whether being smarter means overall superiority over others, or instead, it is just a sort of abstract fact, like having a larger glove size.

Does being smarter mean you are superior to others, sort of being like more human than animal? Is superior intelligence the equivalent of overall superiority? If not, why is implying someone is not smart such an insult? Is it possible to honestly believe you are smarter than everyone and not “better” than everyone?

Well, no–anyone who honestly believes himself to be smarter than everyone else is deeply delusional.

But yeah, intelligence is far from the be-all and end-all of human existence. I’m very very smart in some very very specific ways…and an utter gimboid in other ways.

And honestly, “intelligence” belongs in quotation marks anyway, because there are so may ways to define the word. Emotional intelligence, analytical intelligence, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, blah blah blah. Kim Peak is absolutely brilliant, but few call him “smart.” Bill Clinton is tremendously smart, but kinda dumb. It’s just a part of us, like glove size.

(That’s not to say that some types of intelligence don’t make life a lot easier. They do.)

Well, in regards to your last sentence. I have no doubt I am smarter than a good fraction of the general population.

Do I think myself somehow better or more superior?

Hell no.

Well, in my own experience, people who really think they are the smartest person around (or even that they are smart) usually aren’t nearly as smart as they think. People who are really smart generally don’t think they are, or know that while they know a lot there is so much more than they don’t, so it doesn’t make them feel superior.

That said, IMHO being smart (which is a really loose term btw, meaning a ton of different things) doesn’t make you necessarily superior overall across the board. Being able to out think others can be an advantage, but it depends on the kind of ‘smart’ one is as well as the circumstances, and can be trumped by a really dumb guy with big muscles or a large club.

Right—see the Dunning-Kruger effect.

I can only relate to a brief period in my life when I was enjoying some success in business. It seemed like others would put me in a position of being superior even if they didn’t like me. I would actually catch myself from time to time falling into it and feeling superior. I would make every effort at being just like everyone else even using self deprication in my humor but if you are in a crowd that sees you as more intelligent they will also put you on a pedestal to some degree. That may be why people seek out those who are roughly equal to hang out with.

I think the guy you know is really talking about attitude and perceptions.

I can tell you those people don’t know what they are talking about…

Go total Pakled on his ass!

[said slowly and with painfully deliberate inflection] “You think we are not smart. We are smart.” [/ssawpdi]

Seems to me that the degree of self-awareness and self-control an individual has would indicate whether he’s special or if he’s just another stranger on the bus, trying to make his way home.

I imagine these traits are correlated with intelligence to a certain point, but I don’t think it necessarily follows that a smart person will possess them at a superior level. In my travels, I’ve met many an intelligent person who is neurotic and impulsive and given to irrationality. Being a quick thinker with a good memory isn’t going to shield you from all the other things can mess up your personality.

The guy in the OP is arrogant, but I don’t know if that automatically disqualifies him from being superior in all objective metrics. But I’m guessing that someone who is that arrogant doesn’t work well with others. Someone with inadequate social skills is at a big disadvantage.

You’re asking this question on a board devoted to “fighting ignorance”?

Generally speaking, we want a society that is more intelligent than less. Intelligent people tend to make intelligent decisions. They have the capacity to solve more complex problems with more nuanced solutions. That is not to say smart people can’t also be jerks. But then again, there are a lot of stupid jerks too.

Think about why very smart people might seem arrogant and standoffish. Do you like it when someone repeatedly asks you to do something for them or they don’t get your instructions? Now imagine if everyone seemed like that person to you. Not getting stuff that you take for granted. You might feel like you were in a world surrounded by idiot adult-sized children.

“Do you think Einstein walked around thinking everyone was a bunch of dumb-shits?”
“Probably why he built that bomb.”

I doubt anyone thinks that superior intelligence is the only measure of man.

A superior person is one who is more ethical than everyone else. What good is someone who is smart, but uses their intelligence to hurt people? Better they should be stupid; they wouldn’t be able to do so much damage.

It’s the bigger, stronger guy. A plus if he usually gets the girl.

Nietzsche would say no. The dominant characteristic of the Übermensch is creativity, not intelligence. The Overman is an artist, not a scientist.

I would rather delve into Darwin’s criteria for sexual selection. Intelligence doesn’t always get you the girl.

Even if, hypothetically, there were a single measure of intelligence, and I happened to know I was the person with the highest “score” for this attribute…I should still be humble because my level of knowledge is always going to be a tiny slice of all human knowledge. There’s always going to be lots I could learn from the people around me.
And then of course there’s all that humans collectively have yet to learn…

But of course intelligence isn’t a single measure, and just because I’m a natural at maths, say, doesn’t mean I’d be great at writing fiction, or critiquing a business plan, or whatever.

People who think of themselves as oh-so-smart have just built up a personality that allows them to be oblivious to their own mistakes and ignorance.

My superiority is based on much more than just my intelligence.

Some of the most useless people I know are amazingly intelligent. Sitting around thinking smart stuff isn’t worth much.

You need at least one other trait-- good communication, diligence, creativity-- that enables that intelligence to get out of your head and somewhere where it is useful.

But in my experience, outside of a handful of fields, hard work and good social skills will beat out raw smarts every time.