One of the worst things to be is a midwit. And I am one.
Let me explain what I mean by “midwit.” I have seen the term used many ways, and they boil down to these six points:
- Someone who is not as smart as the truly intelligent, but is of above-average intelligence,
- Who wants other people to think they are actually more intelligent than they are, so they,
- Ape positions and mannerisms they think intelligent people espouse, without,
- Doing their own research or,
- Amending their positions when provided with compelling contrary evidence, and most fatally,
- Don’t realize that they are not as smart as they think they are
Point six is the one that causes trouble. And here’s where I like to think I differ from most midwits: I always try to acknowledge when I don’t know something, which happens quite a bit.
I recently finished listening to a podcast where Dave Rubin spoke with Bret and Eric Weinstein. Now those guys are smart, on a level I could never hope to approach. One thing that struck me was not their encyclopedic knowledge of a variety of topics, but how they approached the world:
- They fully admitted when they didn’t have enough expertise to make anything other than an educated assumption based upon what they did understand
- They were fully aware of what they didn’t know or understand
- They were able to articulate the opposite position of what they personally thought or believed
- They very incredibly careful with their language
- They thought conceptually
- They saw the potential flaws in their own positions
- They made connections between various disciplines, and had interests and intellectual pursuits outside of their stated, credentialed areas of expertise
Eric Weinstein said something that stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing here, but it was essentially that the idea “jack of all trades, master of none,” is both incorrect and harmful. He they said “specialist in one trade, connector of none.”
Connector of none . . .