Aliens in this story have the opposite: conscious is intelligent but relatively dumb; real smart alien lives in the unconscious - leading to curious behavior. And author gives us a good reason why evolution chose to structure these aliens like this.
Plot itself is structured as a mystery: there seems to be more to Palayatans than meets the eye, something far smarter, an unknown factor - call it X. Investigators need to figure out if X indeed exits, & whether it is a threat to humanity.
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding, November 1956.
Download full text from Baen CD.
Among the stories edited by John Campbell for Astounding/Analog.
Related: Stories of James H Schmitz.