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10 tragic consequences of being smart Research shows that the consequences of being smart are good, bad, ugly and pretty damn interesting.

Smart kids can grow up to do some pretty amazing things, like creating Google and Facebook and snorting heaps of coke. Wait, what? It’s true. British researchers have discovered a link between brainy children and an inability to say no to drugs later in life.

Which got us thinking: what else happens to geeks when they get older? Turns out, a surprising mix of results that should both caution and guide you, assuming you are smart. And since you are reading this article, that’s a damn good assumption, of course.

Illicit drug use

You should see him play Jeopardy!

When the 1970 British Cohort Study (studies the development of babies born in the UK 5–11 April 1970) tracked drug use over the course of a lifetime while also looking at factors like intelligence and social class, they found that high IQ children were 50 percent more likely to abuse illegal drugs. The findings extended across a range of buzzes, too, from marijuana to cocaine to meth. Scientists speculate that smart kids get bored easily and turn to drugs as a means of dealing with it. But, um, isn’t that why everyone gets high?


Epidemiologists—who apparently spend most of their time studying smart kids, rather than looking for cures to cancer and AIDS—at the Harvard School of Public Health found that children who score higher on IQ tests have a significantly lower risk of premature death. This one actually kind of makes some sense, because we are pretty sure that being smart is supposed to be an evolutionary advantage. For those who survive high school, anyway.


We can only conclude that smart people were terrified by this documentary.

Numerous studies conducted by groups like the Finra Investor Education Foundation, WISE Senior Services of Los Angeles and AARP Washington State have found that victims of investment fraud tend to be smarter than non-victims. And an Oklahoma City University/University of Central Oklahoma study found that belief in things like ghosts and the paranormal increases as people advance through college and into grad school. In other words, the smarter you are, the more likely you’re going to keep going to college…and the more prone you are to go in for some new dumb crap.

Analysis paralysis

The tendency to overanalyze can be debilitating. Intelligent individuals might scrutinize every possible outcome, leading to decision-making paralysis. A study in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making highlighted that highly intelligent individuals are more prone to analysis paralysis, as their ability to foresee many potential outcomes can make the decision-making process overwhelming. The researchers stated, “overthinking often results in delay or avoidance of decision-making altogether, increasing stress and reducing efficiency” .


A London School of Economics and Political Science study found that men with higher IQs are more faithful partners. Oddly enough, a complementary level of faithfulness was not found in smart chicks. So maybe your new girlfriend’s awfulness at Trivial Pursuit isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Heavy drinking

“Here’s to acing the LSATs, boys.”

It’s not just messing around with some blow when they go off to college. Smart kids are more likely to grow up to be bona fide alcoholics too. Dr. G. David Batty and his cohorts at the University of Glasgow found that by the age of 30, smart girls are 38 percent more likely to have drinking problems, while smart boys have a 17 percent higher risk. When you’re smart you know all kinds of depressing stuff that totally harshes your mellow, apparently.

Resistance to PTSD

Finally, some good news for brainiacs. A Michigan State study found that smarter kids were 20 percent less likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorder after disastrous events. Epidemiologists speculate that those with higher IQs have better coping skills than their average and below-average intelligence-having counterparts. So if your kids have big brains, feel free to take them hunting for human or get them a part-time job at the local slaughterhouse. They’ll be fine.


We’re not convinced this photo supports the research.

Smart kids may get into drugs and booze later in life, but they aren’t having them with a side of steak. Epidemiologists at the University of Southampton found that every 15 point increase in IQ led to a 38 percent increase in the likelihood of being vegetarian. That said, more than 33 percent of the people in the study described themselves as vegetarians but said they ate white meat and fish, and less than seven percent were strict vegetarians or vegans. Guess they do vegetarianism differently across the pond. Or smartness.

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