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 …

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

  1. Bvs thinking is more likely to flow if an environment which nurtures the voicing of ideas without criticism or derision is provided.

  2. Fault finding and being critical can be useful but creating solution, particularly outside the box is more difficult but allows more progress.

  3. Agree we often slip into being too critical of something, in part from being scientist trained to “query/challenge” a hypothesis so easy to slip into “criticism”

  4. BVS thinking isn’t necessarily difficult but it can be scary, especially if others are ready to criticise or, worse, we self-criticise and don’t let ourselves hop to BVS.

  5. It is very challenging to switch from CVS to BVS but at the same time take away message is- to begin with if I am able to switch to a BVS for a couple of situations in a day, I can still have better results at the end of the day.

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