Thursday, 4 April 2013

Brain teaser

I often feel intimidated by people who are smarter than me - or who I believe to be smarter than me. And I know other people can feel intimidated by me for the same reason.

I guess this trait is a sort of domino effect right the way from the total dimwits at the bottom to the MENSA geniuses at the top, with upwards intimidation at each level.

I succumb to it all the time. As soon as I perceive someone to be brainier than me, I promptly become more cautious in what I say or do for fear of haughty scoffing the moment I open my mouth. I check my every utterance for signs of moronic stupidity. I check my posture and mannerisms for obvious cretinicity. I tweak and adjust my remarks to make them sound more intelligent, more sophisticated. I monitor the other person's reactions to see if I've succeeded or if they can easily see through my pathetic attempts to seem sharper than I really am.

And I always over-admire public figures who seem super-intelligent. I'm transfixed by how articulate they are, how slickly analytical, how impervious to bullshit, how they cut straight to the chase. Their private life may be a total disaster area, they may be monsters to live with, but one whiff of that forensic intelligence and I'm theirs. Everything else is irrelevant.

I can tell myself that it's all a trick, a cunning sleight of hand. That people give the impression of high intelligence in all sorts of phoney ways - obscure literary references, technical jargon, clever theories, oddball opinions. But I'm still taken in. I still get duped by the superficial brilliance.

As for other people feeling intimidated by me - how absurd is that? I'm just an average dude with an average intelligence who has somehow managed to get by in life without too many horrific pratfalls or dreadful miscalculations. The idea that I might be super-intelligent is about as daft as thinking the moon is made of chocolate.

Yet some people clearly do think that. There are times when I sense the same furtive caution and tweaking that I'm so guilty of myself. When I sense the secret assumption that Nick can somehow run rings round them in the thinking department. I hate to disillusion anyone but....

Pic: the super-intelligent, mega-brainy Tina Fey

25 comments:

Grannymar said...

Nick, are you telling me that the moon is not made of chocolate? Big let down! Not you. the moon.

Nick said...

Grannymar: Well, so people say. People a lot more intelligent than I am. People who know about these things....

Wisewebwoman said...

I am very sad that you would pretened to be other than you are to impress strangers you will probably never see again.

Who gives a rat's arse for what other people think.

To thine own self be true, Nick.

Please.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Well, I wouldn't go as far as pretending to be someone else. I only mean that I tweak what I say a little. And I'm sure I'm not the only one....

Bijoux said...

Hmmmmm. I think that by the time I reached 35 or so, I no longer felt intimidated by others. And it was never about people being smarter than me; more like having better manners and more class! Haha!

As far as the super brainy types, I've found they usually have the least common sense. And who wants that label?

Nick said...

Bijoux: Better manners and more class? Funny, that's less important to me than how brainy they seem to be. And as far as common sense goes, I think it depends. Sometimes brains and common sense go together, sometimes they don't.

Nick said...

www: Hmmm, I think a lot of the trouble in the world comes from people not caring what others think. That's the first step to megalomania....

Nick said...

www: Not that I'm accusing you personally of megalomania, obviously.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Huh. I can't say I'm ever intimidated by anyone for intellectual reasons. Maybe by aggressive people who could hurt me, but otherwise, no.

Nick said...

Agent: Good for you. I obviously don't have enough confidence in my own intellectual abilities!

bonsaimum said...

I must admit that I admire intelligent people as long as they are decent honest human beings. After all, if you are a horrible human being, there is nothing to admire, intelligent or not. As long as you believe in yourself,( and by this I mean a rational not delusional belief),then no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Plus at my age I don't play games, never have really.

Rummuser said...

I am surrounded by geniuses Nick. My siblings, my son and his friends of both sexes, my nephews and nieces, their children and the list is endless. The whole lot, without exception are condescending to me for my perceived dumbness and I bask in their warmth and affection. I exploit that perception to get what I want done by intelligent people. I don't mind playing the dumb guy.

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: I guess I assume that an intelligent person wouldn't be horrible. Because that would make them stupid.

I think the fact is that I don't believe in myself enough. Not enough to be indifferent to other people's apparent braininess.

Nick said...

Ramana: So you exploit their intelligence to your personal advantage? That's very crafty of you.

e said...

Looks like you've attracted a "not-so-smart" spammer, Nick. Now, about the moon not being made of chocolate...

Nick said...

e: I get a lot of spam but I refuse to impose moderation for under two weeks....

Extensive surveys have confirmed that beyond any doubt the moon is not made of chocolate. But there's a possibility it might be made of toffee.

Nick said...

That's why astronauts keep sticking to the surface....

speccy said...

I think it's something to do with wanting to 'fit'. Just like I'd change out of pjs to go to a meeting, I try to not be too goofy when I'm out. When I get more confident in a situation I'm happier to let my inner (inner??) fool out

Z said...

I don't believe anyone has ever made the mistake of thinking I'm super-intelligent. I feel a bit disappointed about that now.

Nick said...

Z: I bet they have, but they just didn't let on. They didn't want to admit they felt like a dimwit.

Nick said...

Speccy: I think wanting to fit is part of it. Nobody wants to feel like the oddball. And just for the record, you were far from goofy that time I met you!

Liz said...

Oh I so absolutely do that too! (And my brain is apparently being taken over by characters from some appalling television show.) I mean: I do that too. Try so hard to appear clever. I am far more comfortable with people I judge to be less intelligent than me because I don't have to put on that show.
You really do say the things the rest of us think.

Nick said...

Liz: Oh, I'm glad I'm not the only one! And don't worry, I don't care what your IQ is, I like you anyway! Don't you dare put on any show with me....

I do try to say what I really think, rather than the obvious platitudes.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

See, it's like this: if you think of average IQ as 100 (which it is) then if you have an IQ of 101, you are immediately more intelligent that most people. And I think your IQ is considerably more than 101, judging by your writings and the way you think. What that's worth depends on what you want to do with your life.

It's a very common mistake for people of intelligence to think themselves dumb. One of my sons did it for a long, long time, just because his older brother had been tested and happened to come out somewhere around 140. The thing is, these are just numbers, and there are various types of intelligence: one son could keep you spellbound for a couple of hours taking about the way the universe works but is not so good at negotiating with dubious people in a nightclub at midnight, the other is extremely street-smart, picks up practical ideas, music etc quickly, can make friends and influence people, but probably couldn't tell you the name of a single element from the periodic table.

You tell me: which type of intelligence is more useful?

Nick said...

Jay: Absolutely, the type of intelligence that means you're street-smart, can make friends etc is far more valuable than some esoteric bit of academic knowledge. Of course there are different types of intelligence - academic, emotional, practical etc - and the constant emphasis on whether you have one particular type is very damaging.