When smart people do stupid stuff it causes us to scratch our heads. An otherwise insightful leader systematically gets rid of his most creative and productive co-workers resulting in a “stable” yet stagnant and crumbling organization. An otherwise smart person cutting through a dark alley at night in a city as a short cut and wonders why they get robbed. An avid “texter” washing a cell phone in a sink after dropping it in the dirt. The once honor student who spends their time getting drunk, skipping classes, and/or using drugs claiming to have life under control while their diminishing GPA tells a starkly different story. The respected thinker who claims moral relativity yet gets upset when something “bad” happens to them or a family member. The spiritual scholar who somehow finds a way to get their texts to say the exact opposite of what they actually mean in order to live or endorse their preferred lifestyle.
The list could go on and on. So, what causes seemingly smart people to do some really stupid stuff? There can be some more innocent reasons such as ignorance and not thinking things through. And there can be some less innocent, more self-centered reasons as well. Sternberg’s Four Fallacies is a list of self-beliefs under the latter category that demonstrate our tendency towards the sins of being self-centered, assuming we are God, and believing we are above the moral law.
1) The Egocentrism Fallacy – The person believes that “it is all about me”. All the plans and actions center only around their own interests. A sin of being self-centered.
2) The Omniscience Fallacy – While a person may know a great deal about something, they begin to think that they know everything about everything. A sin of thinking they are God.
3) The Omnipotence Fallacy – The person believes that they are all powerful and can do whatever they want when they want. A sin of thinking they are God, or even better than God since God will not lie or doing anything unrighteous (Hebrews 6:18; Psalm 92:15)
4) The Invulnerability Fallacy – The person believes that they can do what they want and not get caught. If they do get caught, they believe that they will not suffer the consequences, be able to get out of the situation, or fix the situation to their own desires. A sin of thinking that they are above moral law and there is no Ultimate Judge.
Who do you know who falls into one of those four fallacies? Which of the fallacies do you find yourself entertaining?