The concept of smart v dumb has fascinated me. Because I think it is plain to everyone that some who may at first glance be dumb can actually be quite smart, and vice versa. For example, George W Bush: is he a foil being blindly led by self-interested parties that surround him for personal financial gain; or a cunning man of the people who has managed to win re-election through an amazing ability to adapt both himself and the facts to new political situations?
I am not going to argue about individuals (a Judgement for another day perhaps), but rather, today, I sit in judgement of the scale of “smart” and “dumb” – and I have found them wanting. “Wanting” in that I believe that there are extra dimensions to smartness that aren’t smart, and dumbness that aren’t dumb. So I have constructed the Smartscale™ (v1), which groups multiple types of “smarts” (where smart is the smart end of the scale and dumb is the unsmart) in the following two ways:
1) Firstly, potential smarts. While I had initially thought to label this “academic smarts”, that term does not really seem to fit as it seems to limit the scope to bits and pieces of paper. Potential smarts are background indicators of smartness, like experience or study. I see this as looking at a person’s smarts C.V. and from that determining the smarts they may have access to, or at least have deep down inside. Potential smarts can only be acquired with time, but are not necessarily acquired in all areas, or perhaps not at all. It gives a base in being what people call smart, but does not guarantee the person will appear smart when you meet them in person.
2) And that is the second part of the Smartscale™ (v1) – the apparent smarts, which could also be described as astuteness. We all know these people – those who are quick on their feet, witty, dauntless, unstoppable. Every question has an answer, some shrewd and accurate, while others being cases of bulldust baffling brains. These smarts can only be determined in person and, while it may not actually be a true indication of deeper depth, the obvious intelligence required to be able to react so quickly and be so persuasive and thus provide (if nothing more) the illusion of being smart is a type of smartness in itself. This scale is harder to move along, as it requires a certain “natural” way of thinking and dealing with people to be convincing.
And, as I am making this a more complex scale, the two interact. In the scale below, I have started with the potential dumb on the left hand side. As (one hopes) people tend to become more well read and experienced with time, this provides the x axis to “ground” the smart scale. Apparent smarts, as something a bit harder to change with time, forms the y axis. And where people sit, well, it’s a combination of the two.
[Not sure what I have done, but this image looks horrible here; but click on it and it should look better - or, at least, be legible]
Personally I think of myself as sitting in the Smart – Dumb quadrant. I can be a complete mutard in person, but (a conceit perhaps) I tend to think of myself as a bit of a thinker about things. I am not going to attempt to identify exactly where I sit within that quadrant, as that is just inviting trouble.
And the idea of placing oneself in this scale is, really, quite pointless. The only people who can judge where one sits on the Smartscale™ (v1) is someone (or someones) else. A judge, as it were.
Right, I have now laid down the groundwork for my Smartscale™ (v1) and, when I next decide to sit down and engage myself in thinking about something completely useless, I can refine this tool a bit more. Suggestions (and comments on its complete inanity) welcome.
Just as an aside, I have toyed with the idea of a 3 x 3 matrix of determining “smartness”, and it may have to come to that depending on my ruminations…
Verdict: A giant leap forward in uselessness