If you're so clever, why ain't you rich?

Have you ever been confronted by the captioned argument? The assumption is naturally that wealth creation requires intelligence of a higher order than mere mortals and hence the rich are highly intelligent: and the opposite is further assumed : that if you’re not wealthy you must be dumb/stupid etc? ???

I have no problem with the wealthy but believe that the type of skill required has little to do with intelligence per se, rather maybe a willingness to identify opportunities and take risks and more often than not, to be thick skinned enough to face the hard knocks and to bounce back (like Donald Trump did). However, Bill Gates, Soros etc are highly intelligent…no doubt about that. In fact Gates changed the traditional economic theory that you need capital, land, labour etc. to create wealth…he essentially used creativity to do so (as did Brian Jobs), our own cosmonaut chappy (forget his name now, damn this dementia!)etc.

I’ve seen very wealthy people who were merely plodders (I exclude the criminals, looters and inheritors of wealth) and built up substantial assets but didn’t display a great capacity to reason or to understand complex issues. Maybe that’s part of it! They’re very focussed and all else is irrelevant. It’s a type of intelligence, sheer guts and determination to succeed that seems to be required. Different strokes for different folks?

IMO amassing wealth has got nothing to do at all with intelligence, its got to do with drive and ambition - which is a personality trait. (Lolly Jackson comes to mind - he started out as a used car salesman - not saying the man wasnt intelligent, but he certainly wasnt as educated as some)

Could it not also have something to do with a certain type of intelligence that is required to get rich (and stay that way, i suppose is also important) You can be an absolute genius when it comes to remembering useless dates, for example - the historical society thinks you are the cleverest person in the world - but that won’t necessarily make you money. I think a clear understanding of how money works is required, and sadly i have to admit, that I will never be wealthy :’(

Mark Shuttleworth.

I think that making lots of moola is even more a function of being, proverbially, in the right place at the right time, i.e. there’s a significant element of luck involved, Gary Player’s “The harder I work, the luckier I get” notwithstanding. This is not to say that ambition, determination, follow-through and the ability quickly to recognise an opportunity are unimportant. These traits are important but when one considers how many failed businesses and enterprises there are for every successful one, it should be clear that they alone are not enough to make the pay grade.

Of course, about every failure one can say that the entrepreneur simply didn’t have enough ambition/determination/follow-through/opportunistic acuity/etc., making unfalsifiable the hypothesis that these elements are essential. It would be much like saying that someone just didn’t pray hard enough.


The Lord looks after those who look after themselves ??? What a lekker cop-out (wtf!!) yeh I remembered Shuttleworth’s name an hour later ??? Thanks anyway.

and the Devil looks after his own… >:D

I think you are spot on. Malcolm Gladwell mentioned being in the right place at the right time and the ‘10 000 hour’ rule in his book Outliers.

I am.

Clever? Rich? Both? :wink:

I don’t think there was any implication that cleverness (or intelligence) should be very strongly correlated positively with worldly success. If anything, I think the point was to question the common assumption that it is.



Forgive my slowness. You’re punning on this thread’s title, aren’t you?