Why do highly intelligent people do such stupid things?

Over the years, the main things I have learnt about David Laws is that he is extremely rich and extremely intelligent. A double first in economics from Cambridge, a VP at JP Morgan at 22 and multi-millionaire at 28. But he goes and does something which is mind-blowingly stupid. If he felt so strongly that he didn’t want to reveal his sexuality, he could have paid his own rent without claiming it. So why didn’t he? Why did he, since 2006, play with fire, relying on a finely nuanced interpretation of the rules which would have taken an extremely expensive barrister to argue successfully?…And that fire turned into an almighty conflagration waiting to burst into flames when he took over the Treasury secretary role. Why did he not do anything about it earlier? It is utterly baffling.

BBC Parliament yesterday repeated Osborne and Laws’ statements when they announcement the £6 billion cuts recently. There was Laws, at tremendous length, describing very precisely what cuts he would demand on, for example, things like rail fares for public servants.

It was then that I realised, with shattering clarity, that Laws had done the right thing, with great dignity, in standing down right away. He could not have gone on cutting jobs and expenditure while having this was hanging over him. It’s tremendously sad and I feel great sympathy for Laws and his friend during this terrible time. It’s a great loss for the country, as David Laws was almost uniquely to drag us out of the deficit in a humane way.

But, one has to say, all the Oxbridge double firsts in the world don’t seem to stop people doing the most unbelievably mind-numbingly stupid things.

And yes, I have changed my tune from yesterday. So there.

And yes, the answer to the question in the title above is that we all do stupid things sometimes, myself definitely included. Unfortunately all the degrees, money and position in the world don’t innoculate us humble humans from stupidity.

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