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Beyond Cleverness: How to be smart without thinking

There is a stupid rumour going round that intelligence is essentially rational, and that hard problems are invariably best tackled as explicitly, clearly, logically and articulately as possible. It’s not true. As Whitehead says, logical clarity is one form of intelligence, but to assume that it is always the best, and the more of it the better, is as daft as to say that running is always the best way of getting around, or a screwdriver is always the best tool. The rumour is stupid because it makes you less intelligent, mistaking one useful faculty of mind for the whole repertoire of useful mind states and modes. People who are good at being articulate and analytical, but who confuse this with being all-round intelligent are, we might say, ‘clever’ – but clever is not the same as smart.

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