The Curse of the Midwit

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:

  1. Someone who is not as smart as the truly intelligent, but is of above-average intelligence,
  2. Who wants other people to think they are actually more intelligent than they are, so they,
  3. Ape positions and mannerisms they think intelligent people espouse, without,
  4. Doing their own research or,
  5. Amending their positions when provided with compelling contrary evidence, and most fatally,
  6. 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 . . . 

Wow. Continue reading “The Curse of the Midwit”

Ridiculous Truths

Common sense will mark you as the enemy.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Look at the things that are commonly held to be Indisputable Truths by our so-called betters:

  • Our differences are our strength! Actually, differences divide us and tear us apart. Focusing on our similarities would actually be more beneficial. But say that, and you’re some kind of -ist.
  • Both sides are the same! Be in the center! Yet if both sides are the same, you not only absolve yourself of the responsibility of choosing a side, you likely just want to be perceived as being “above it all” without actually having to commit to anything. No skin in the game!
  • Debt is good for the economy! On what planet does this make sense? Oh, right. We don’t live on earth any more. We live in Clown World.
  • Win war through unilateral disarmament. Find me one time in the entirety of human history where this has actually worked and then I’ll change my stance.
  • Double standards are the only way to correct past wrongs! This is so destructive, the only logical assumption is that the people who agree with this sentiment aren’t stupid: They’re just blatant liars. Double standards are killing us.

The latest bout of public idiocy, and the thing that started this train of thought, is outrage at the Attorney General’s use of the term “Anglo-American heritage” when talking about the office of the sheriff.

The office of “sheriff” is not only Anglo idea, the term is an Anglo word (“shire” + “reeve” elided over the centuries to become “sheriff”). The office of sheriff was adopted in America thanks to the fact that America was a colony founded by individuals of primarily Anglo-Saxon descent. But hey, why let truth get in the way of a good diatribe? Racist!

Most of these ridiculous truths are, on their face, absurd and demonstrably false. But we are operating in this weird epoch where, in order to be thought of as “intelligent,” one must adopt idiotic positions.

This stems from a condition I like to call Intellectual Inadequacy. This phenomenon typically afflicts midwits!

Akin to Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s IYI (intellectual yet idiot), midwits are people just smart enough to know they’re not average, but they know they’re not geniuses either. This bothers them.

There are plenty of us who aren’t geniuses (*raises hand*), but the true and committ r midwit lacks that crucial component that even many on the low-end of the intellect scale possesses–humility.

In other words, the midwit refuses to admit that he or she doesn’t know something. Continue reading “Ridiculous Truths”