Lateral Thinking Certificate (LTC-A) – 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 …

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

  1. Going from cvs to bvs can be uncomfortable and can lead to criticism but also to innovation and ideas

  2. I assume that the push for our children to think rather than parrot learn in school as in the past is instilling BVS while they have greatest access to their imagination. I was at a bakery for lunch (a long time ago now!) and the people next to us where amazed and delighted that our son was reading a book. Nothing like a bit of BVS than imagining what is written on a page, rather than flashed on a screen.

  3. Switching from CVS to BVS is difficult because there is only one CVS at any moment but lots of alternative BVS with lots of thinking and different levels of risks are associated. But from the lessons so far, now I believe that practicing cvs2bvs together with learning from the criticism is the way to go forward.

  4. CVS2BVS could be likened to producing mind maps – if you are good at doing mind maps to explore a current view then switching to BVS should happen more easily. it will take practice though.

  5. Switching thought processes quickly and effectively from the CVS to the BVS can yield staggering results as this opens the door to infinite possible outcomes. While sticking to the CVS may be comfortable, the best outcome will not be achieved without thinking of alternative solutions.

  6. I think the fault finding band wagon is very easy to jump onto. Maybe too easy. And there are plenty of people who find pleasure in the role of fault checking without actually providing a better idea. The solution is that flicking the switch again – look for the alternative better view of the situation.

    1. Thomas Edison was a good thinker. He was always looking for a BVS. It is said he tested 1000 different filaments until he found one that made an electric light function. A very good thinker, but unfortunately apparently not intelligent.

  7. It is much easier to defend your CVS than to escape it. Learning the “switch” is the challenge.

  8. It is often hard to escape the CVS, but the challenges of what we do mean that we do practice seeking the BVS. But x10 BVS, now that is a challenge. More thinking on this is required.

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