Intelligence and Hubris

why-smart-people-do-dumb-things.jpgThe Dark Star of High Intelligence

“Astronomers have discovered that Sirius, the brightest star int he sky, has a dark companion: a lightless, infinitely heavy presence turning endlessly in space in a tight orbit with the blazing star. Hubris is the dark companion of personal brilliance…

“Hubris is a powerful engine, driving the individual to extraordinary feats. Where would we be if Prometheus had not dared the gods and stolen the fire? But the hubristic engine revs so fast and generates such internal heat that it runs on the edge of destruction. Hubrists cannot live without danger. Their pride and insolence lead them constantly to sneer at the “gods”–meaning the contemporary counterparts of the Greek and Roman gods, the folkways, mores, and power structure of the society.”

— Mortimer Feinberg and John Tarrant in Why Smart People Do Dumb Things: Lessons from the New Science of Behavioral Economics (1995).

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