Lateral Thinking Certificate (LTC) – Lesson #03 – The Intelligence Trap …

The Intelligence Trap says: The more intelligent a person is the less likely they are to be a good thinker.

“If only I’d thought about … “

Why? Because very often the more intelligent a person is and the more articulate they are (if they are trapped in the right/wrong thinking method) the more they will defend the ‘rightness’ of their cvs. The more they dig-in to defend their cvs the less able they are to escape from their cvs box and find a much better one. This is one of the most serious problems of human thinking. It makes us very slow thinkers.

Bias toward criticism

To make matters worse, in our society there’s a strong bias towards criticism because it’s easier to criticise than to design. If you advocate an idea, you make yourself vulnerable to the criticism of others. On the other hand, if you just sit back and pick the faults in the ideas of others you get to be the one who showed others they were wrong. This fault-checking behavior can often be rewarded by the nodding approval of the peanut gallery.

It is also self-reinforcing: once you’ve been the critic for a while, you may realise others will do the same to your ideas and so you may be less inclined to put forward new ideas of your own. This also makes us very slow thinkers.


Fault-checking is important but it’s not a substitute for innovation. Picking all the faults in a stagecoach may lead to the perfect stagecoach, but it won’t give you a motor-car. We need a different kind of thinking for that.

Of course, not all intelligent people get caught in the intelligence trap. Some are are able to escape from their cvs box instinctively, or some have been taught the specific thinking skills to do so.

The 59 Second Course

The last lesson was about – cvs2bvs – what I have called, ‘software for your brain’. Here’s a quick summary. Click here to watch the 59 Second Course in Thinking …

DFQ #03What is the most important insight that you now have about ‘thinking’ that you’ll want to take away and think a lot more about?

Tomorrow’s Lesson #4 – Rate Your Own Level of Thinking. A 5-minute questionnaire.

Bonus Poster – Here’s a poster that summarises the cvs2bvs software for your brain. If you like you can print it out …

124 thoughts on “Lateral Thinking Certificate (LTC) – Lesson #03 – The Intelligence Trap …

  1. The absolute necessity for critically examining one’s thinking on an ongoing basis. The need for developing the capability to escape from the CVS.

  2. An outsider thinker will be a target of criticism but are the most likely to be innovators and create the impossible.

  3. This is an interesting concept, it IS easier to criticise, or to build on another idea (or CVS)… so now I know that might be my default, I can be alert to it. I can choose not to defend, but ask what might be a better solution – a BVS or maybe even 2 or more!

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