15 signs of ignorant people who just pretend to be smart

Smartness is like the sun. You really can’t hide it.

If you’re like me, you’ve possibly met people, in-person or virtually, who feign smartness when deep down they are anything but.

These people can be really irritating, and picking them from a crowd can save you lots of distress.

Here are 15 unmistakable signs of ignorant people who just pretend to be smart:

1) Ignorant people give little thought to the future

Individuals who portray themselves as smart when they are not usually seek out immediate gratification. Yes, it’s wonderful to savor each day as it comes, but it’s equally important to consider the long view.

Ignorant people are sorely focused on what they can gain instantly rather than on what the future could bring. They frequently lack a backup plan, which involves getting ready for any eventuality.

On the other hand, smart people always seek to maintain a healthy balance between the present and the future.

2) Ignorant people lack critical thinking skills

When you engage in critical thinking and self-reflection, you examine your actions to see if they are in tandem with your principles.

Ignorant people offer advice to others but rarely apply the same advice to their own lives.

If you never take the time to evaluate your own actions and words, you are not as intelligent as you believe you are.

3) Ignorant people use big words

Ignorant people value sounding intelligent. Big words and jargon are their tools of choice to make you think they are intelligent.

Even when it’s really unnecessary, ignorant people feel the need to insert the longest words and most complex terms into every speech.

Ignorant people frequently mispronounce or misinterpret the meaning of their complex words because they are more concerned with impressing others than with actually understanding what they are saying.

People who are truly smart cherish clarity in communication, so they reserve the use of complex words and are always willing to provide explanations.

4) They endlessly brag about their smartness

Ignorant people don’t hesitate to let everyone know that they are smart.

They continuously boast about their intellectual pursuits for no apparent reason, whine that their high knowledge is a rarity or declare that everyone else is illiterate and lacking in taste.

A study by psychologist Elizabeth J. Krumrei-Mancuso finds that people who brag don’t know as much as they think.

Ignorant people seize every opportunity to extol their superior mental faculties and make comparisons with others.

Genuinely intelligent people, on the other hand, are confident in their mental prowess and don’t waste time trying to persuade others all the time.

5) They act like they know everything

Ignorant people always have something to say about anything: from society, politics, religion, education, to the arts.

If you disagree with them, they won’t engage in a sincere dialogue; instead, they declare that you are mistaken, disparage your opinions, or assert that their position is too clear to warrant explanation.

On the other hand, those who are truly smart are open-minded and aware that there are no simple solutions to problems. They are constantly learning new concepts and viewpoints.

6) Ignorant people are conversation narcissists

A conversational narcissist is a person who hijacks and takes control of conversations by making themselves the focus of the discourse.

Any conversation, no matter how unimportant, can be hijacked by an ignorant person by asking interesting yet meaningless questions.

They ask you petty questions in an effort to discredit you. They ask questions not to seek clarity, but to display their intelligence.

On the other side, those who are truly intelligent ask probing questions in order to add significance, satisfy their curiosities, or advance the discussion’s theme.

7) They are anything but humble

signs of ignorant people who just pretend to be smart 1 15 signs of ignorant people who just pretend to be smart

Ignorant people have high opinions of themselves. They have created a fake persona, and they even begin to accept their own lies.

Despite their neatly preserved looks, they can struggle with poor self-esteem. They don’t dare delve too deeply within themselves and instead take advantage of their exaggerated ego and narcissism to mask their shortcomings.

An ignorant person tries to downplay their shortcomings and exaggerate their strengths. They dislike being questioned for fear that the truth will come out.

Because forgiving others would require humility to acknowledge that no one is flawless, they are also more likely to harbor resentments.

When you are aware and accepting of your imperfections, you become truly humble.

8) Ignorant people don’t learn from their mistakes

Ignorant people aren’t overly concerned with improving their character, being more trustworthy, or striving to better themselves.

They believe that they are flawless. Because of this, they are unable to grow from their mistakes. They struggle to accept responsibility for mistakes or failures. It will always be someone else’s fault.

They won’t ever fully understand the valuable lessons that come from making mistakes, which will prevent them from achieving outstanding success.

9) Ignorant people are inconsistent

Lack of basic principles and the inability to commit to a task are two characteristics that define an ignorant person.

They jump from one pursuit to the next without really putting their all into any one endeavor, spreading themselves too thin by attempting to do it all.

They fail to meet deadlines, provide justifications or lay the responsibility elsewhere, but the actual issue is their lack of consistency.

Ignorant people don’t really know what they stand for, which leaves a colossal mess in their wake.

Furthermore, they continuously allow themselves to become mired in details as they attempt to micromanage everything without understanding the bigger objectives.

10) They don’t express their emotions freely

Since ignorant people have become accustomed to creating a facade around their lives, they frequently act aggressively towards others to mask their own emotions.

Because they don’t know what it means to be real, ignorant people enclose themselves from their innermost emotions. 

Presumably out of anxiety about what they might discover there, they are unable to convey their thoughts and feelings.

11) Ignorant people are selfish

Instead of employing reason, ignorant people try to find ways to persuade their peers by appealing to their emotions. 

They enjoy inciting anger in others, especially when doing so serves their own interests. They are probably attempting to position themselves to gain more power or control.

In a group, pretenders typically isolate themselves. 

These cliques pressure people to share their viewpoints socially, which only serves to confirm their prejudices. This is so that others won’t question their intentions or ideas.

12) Ignorant people are judgmental and manipulative

Ignorant people rarely give compliments and won’t think twice about passing judgment. They use slander to manipulate others to climb the social ladder.

They are quite judgmental of others in an effort to achieve control. By controlling those around them, they seek to gain the upper hand or obtain other people’s approval. 

Their efforts are also directed towards discrediting others. They are skilled at being passive-aggressive and offering unintentional praise and will go to great lengths to put the focus back on themselves.

13) Ignorant people are poor listeners

Because they think they know it all, ignorant people are poor listeners. 

They seize every opportunity to make arguments and interrupt while others are trying to speak. Instead of listening to understand, they listen to respond.

They hardly respond to the issues raised in a conversation, but shift the discussion back to their point of view.

Meanwhile, truly smart people give others space to speak, fully listen to what they have to say, and then discreetly form their own ideas.

14) Ignorant people suffer from a false sense of confidence

Ignorant people who pretend to be smart harbor a high sense of confidence, albeit false. They always believe things will always go their way. 

As a result, they fail to recognize when they need help, and when they do, they assume that no one else is competent to offer meaningful help.

These individuals also have a tendency to value their own opinions, which makes it difficult for them to accept that anyone can provide them with helpful input.

Besides impeding their development and effectiveness, this trait can result in destructive interpersonal relationships on both a personal and professional level.

15) Ignorant people lack courtesy

Finally, ignorant people who pretend to be smart lack courtesy and are likely to berate, demean, or make fun of others.

Belittling others makes ignorant people feel good and gives them a stronger sense of intelligence, which is obviously false.

Plus, they tend to rub their know-it-all attitude to all and sundry while frowning at people with little understanding of a particular topic.

In contrast, smart people ooze intelligence and are generally courteous. They are aware that some people may not know some things and take their time to explain difficult concepts.

Final thoughts

It feels good to be smart, so it comes as no surprise that some people will pretend to be who they aren’t.

For starters, smart people hardly brag, always listen to others, are eager for feedback, and are excellent learners.

Ignorant people are exactly the opposite: arrogant, poor listeners, and never-learners.

The above signs will come in handy for you in separating the authentic-smarts from the fake-smarts.

Picture of Martha Croissy

Martha Croissy

Martha is a freelance writer specializing in positive psychology, self-help, and personal development topics. When not hitting the keyboard, Martha loves cooking and traveling. Email: marthacroissy@gmail.com LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martha-croissy-a81670238/

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