The 20 Most Overrated Signs of Intelligence (And What Really Matters)

Intelligence is a fascinating concept that captivates our minds and sparks our curiosity. We often assume that if someone’s smart, they’re like the Albert Einstein of the world. But here’s the deal: sometimes, we mistake other stuff for signs of intelligence.

A Redditor asked, “What is incorrectly perceived as a sign of intelligence?”

Thousands of users commented, and we have listed the most famous ones for you!

1. Being Rich

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Someone said, “People seem to think if you are rich with a good job, you must be smart. Generally speaking, I’ve only met one rich person I would consider smart. The rest? Ooooooof. I seriously wonder how some of them passed grade school.”

Another replied, “The least intelligent dude I know (has severe dyslexia and learning difficulty) is also the most well-off. He wasn’t smart enough to perceive risk, but smart enough to know he needed to work his a** off because of his shortcomings. The combination of the two made him ultra-successful. Hard work with a dash of luck and timing.”

So, let’s ditch the misconception that being rich automatically means being intelligent. Money doesn’t measure brainpower, and it’s high time we stop assuming it does.

2. Knowledge

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You might come across people who seem to know everything under the sun. They can spout facts, recall historical events, and recite complex theories with ease. It’s impressive, no doubt. But here’s the truth: knowledge alone doesn’t determine intelligence!

A user wrote, “I was surprised when I learned that knowledge isn’t necessarily correlated to intelligence. I met a lifelong academic who knew darn near everything about her topic …. but just the facts. It’s like she was a walking encyclopedia, she could cough up any info about her field, but she couldn’t really process it that well, or draw conclusions, or apply it to a different topic. It’s hard to explain.

She had a nice 2TB SSD drive full of info in her head, but she had a substandard CPU. Since then, I’ve met several people like that. All academics, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with it.”

Another added, “Smart in one or two topics doesn’t mean overall intelligent. I mean, I’ve talked to some academics who were, outside of their field, plain stupid.”

3. Silence

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In a world where everyone constantly speaks, staying silent can be a refreshing and underestimated trait. But staying silent doesn’t make someone intelligent!

Someone said, “Silence. I’ve been told so many times that I’m thoughtful and a deep thinker, but really I can’t figure out what to say, lol.”

Another responded, “My girlfriend thinks my silence is me thinking hard or letting her sort her emotions out, but it’s really me trying to think of anything to say, but I’m a dumb**s”

4. Being in Charge

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A user commented, “Always maintain a healthy skepticism for anyone claiming to be an authority, at least till they prove themselves capable.”

Another agreed, “Could not agree more. I have had my fair share of bosses, and they all behave the same and think they know everything.”

So, just because someone holds a position of power doesn’t mean they have superior intelligence!

5. Confidence

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Being confident is often seen as a sign of intelligence, but you have to understand that confidence doesn’t always equate to intelligence.

A Redditor said, “Also (frustratingly) I’ve found that if someone states something with enough confidence in a subject area that I am relatively expert in, then I hesitate to correct him/her, even if I’m sure they’re incorrect because there is a small chance that I could be wrong. It does mean that, to a layman, the confident and charismatic person can be seen as a genuine expert.”

Another user seconded, “Yes.. definitely… Everywhere I’ve worked, there is always that one guy in the team who is so sure he’s right about any garbage that comes out of his mouth.

Most people try not to question or argue about it because of that person’s demeanor. I do, and I always have unpleasant relationships with these people. But it’s fine. I’m here to make sure the right decisions are made, not the ones you think are right.”

6. Arrogance

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Being arrogant is often seen as a negative trait, and rightfully so. It is a false sense of superiority that is often mistaken as a sign of intelligence.

A user said, “If they have to tell you that they are important, they are not important.”

Another wrote, “Yes, the ones who pretend to think they have the right to be arrogant just because they watched two episodes of tbbt, Sherlock , house, mentalist, etc .. No, you are just an a**hole, and no amount of intelligence can make up for that. Sheldon would be kicked off from the room within 2 weeks in real life.”

7. Being Bald

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Being bald has nothing to do with intelligence or other personal qualities. It’s just a physical attribute, like having brown eyes or curly hair.

Someone said, “Apparently bald = intelligent now.”

Another replied, “Does thinking make your hair fall out?”

8. Being Left-handed

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One person commented, “I’m living in China right now, and everyone keeps calling me intelligent as I’m bald and left-handed.”

Another wrote, “I’m left-handed and one of the dumbest persons you’ll meet so.”

So being left-handed is a unique trait that has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s simply a variation in how individuals prefer to use their hands!

9. Early Academics

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Getting good grades in your early school years can be a positive achievement, but it doesn’t necessarily define your intelligence or guarantee success in the long run. So, it’s important not to place too much emphasis on grades alone!

One user said, “Scoring an A when I was 14.”

Another added, “Same dude. Graduated 7 years ago. I learned that what everyone said was true; once you get your degree, no one cares about your grades. I graduated with a 2.41. I’m doing just fine.

Just do your thing and don’t worry about others wanting you to be a genius or thinking you’re lazy for simply getting the grades you get.

A letter on a piece of paper or on a computer screen never really meant anything to me anyway. It was just a means to an end so I could provide for myself and be happy. And I managed it with plenty of C’s and D’s sprinkled throughout.”

10. Glasses

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Someone wrote, “It’s a sad story, but the Khmer Rouge murdered many people with glasses in Cambodia because they perceived them as intellectuals.”

Another replied, “I have a friend who for a period of time would wear fake glasses (as in the lenses had no prescription, they were just plain plastic) because he thought it made him look more intelligent, and therefore more appealing to women. Fortunately, he stopped doing it eventually.”

Intelligence is not determined by whether or not someone wears glasses. Do you agree?

11. Solving a Rubik’s Cube

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A Redditor commented, “Solving a Rubik’s cube.”

Another said, “I can confirm I can solve one, and I’m an idiot.”

Someone else wrote, “I second this; I solve them and am also an idiot. I used to mess with people at parties and pretend I was doing complex calculations to solve them. I also used to pretend my photographic memory was remembering every move they made while they were scrambling it. People are gullible; it’s fun. Highly recommend”

While it’s true that some people may be naturally good at solving puzzles, it doesn’t mean they are inherently more intelligent than others!

12. No Tutorials

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Being able to do things without watching tutorials can be an impressive display of expertise. But it doesn’t indicate a higher level of intelligence.

A user wrote, “If you do it without tutorials, you are probably a genius.”

Another responded, “Figuring out how to solve one does. Learning how to solve one from a tutorial does not.”

13. Complex Words

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A Reddit user commented, “A cromulent vocabulary.”

Someone said, “Using big words or complicated language when trying to explain something or talking about a difficult subject. The smartest people can actually make it sound simple.”

Another added, “This is on point! Some of the world’s best schools, looking at you Gordonstoun, take the world’s richest kids and teach them to speak eloquently to create an illusion of intellect when in reality, they have the IQ of most household flyswats and have very little substance to their conversation or personality.”

Using complex words can sometimes give the impression of intelligence. But remember, it’s almost always just the impression!

14. Having Opinions

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A user shared, “Having an opinion on literally everything. Especially needing to share the opinions with everyone they encounter.”

Another responded, “I’m trying to get better about saying “I don’t know.” Debate was social capital in my household growing up, so I learned to talk around a subject in an area I was familiar with rather than just saying I didn’t have enough info to have an informed opinion. Still working on that, though.”

So, having opinions doesn’t necessarily indicate intelligence!

15. Diploma

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A user commented, “A college degree.”

Another said, “Yep, I have a degree, and I’m stupid af”

Someone replied, “The adults in my life told me that I had to go to college and that literally any college degree was the best and only way to get a good job in the future. I graduated in 2008, btw.”

Do you think having a college diploma equals a higher intelligence level?

16. Talking Fast

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One Redditor claimed, “Talking fast even if you’re saying the dumbest stuff”

Another wrote, “The trick is to say enough dumb things that the person you’re talking to gets confused as to where to even begin”

True intelligence lies in effective communication, which doesn’t involve speaking as quickly as you can!

17. Being Asian

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Someone said, “I had a Filipino coworker in a small, mostly white town. He said he tells everyone in the main office he’s Chinese because they’ll think he’s smart. “They can’t tell the difference, oxalis.”

Another user commented, “In my high school, we had a football player who happened to be Asian. His yearbook quote was, “I’m conflicted. I’m Asian and a football player. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be good or bad at math””

Do you think ethnicity and race contribute to a person’s intelligence?

18. A Good Memory

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Memory is an ability that allows us to store and recall information. We often associate a good memory with intelligence, assuming that those who can effortlessly remember facts and details must be highly intelligent! Sounds ridiculous, right?

This user shared their thoughts: “Being able to memorize. Having a good memory is definitely helpful and often shows intelligence, but just being able to spout facts does not mean you understand them or can think about things critically.”

Another added with their personal experience: “This is genuinely infuriating. I’m an engineer and have a lot of colleagues that can dance circles around me with formulas and definitions but can’t design their way out of a cardboard box. I look like an idiot because I can never remember the correct terminology for things because it isn’t used colloquially, and I have to Google conversions.

It takes both kinds, but the people who can sprout random facts tend to be typically perceived as smarter.”

19. Age

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Someone wrote, “Seriously, I was friends with someone 11 years older than me (I’m in my 20s), and he was always so patronizing and treated me like I didn’t know anything and like he knew everything because he was older, especially like he knew what was best for me and my life. Like, dude! We are in the same year of the same degree program, and you are 11 years older, stop acting so high and mighty.”

Another commented, “Age does not beget wisdom. Experience begets wisdom. Sure, you accumulate experiences with age, but everyone also accumulates different experiences throughout their lives, so everyone has differing bits of wisdom to share.

A 20-year-old who lost a parent to cancer is more equipped than a 50-year-old with both parents living to help someone who lost their parent. A 16-year-old black woman is more aware of racial and gender discrimination than a 60-year-old white man. A 30-year-old trucker is probably a better driver than a 30-year-old office worker. It’s all about the experience.”

Think about it. Have you ever met someone who’s older but doesn’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on around them? Or maybe you’ve come across a young person who’s incredibly sharp and quick-witted. It happens all the time! Intelligence can be found at any age, and it has nothing to do with how many candles are on your birthday cake.

20. Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence involves understanding and managing emotions in ourselves and others. While emotional intelligence is undoubtedly valuable, it’s important to know that it’s just one facet of intelligence and not a measure of overall intellectual ability!

One person shared, “Being emotionally stunted. High IQ does not equal low EQ, you can be a d*** and stupid, and you can be smart and charismatic. It’s not one or the other.”

Another agreed and replied, “I have a Ph.D. in computing science and a particular niche field of it. I kinda get people thinking I can fix their computer (I probably can’t), but I really don’t get it when I do something completely normal and human, like get lost and need directions or forget to do a task or struggle to open a box or something, and people say “uhhhhh I thought you had a Ph.D. hwah-hwah-hwah”. Like, man, I have proven to be kinda ok at one thing and nothing else; leave me alone.”

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.