What if I’m the Dumb One?

It was a funny tweet, a few or several days ago, I don’t remember who said it, I can’t give credit. It wasn’t me though:

“It just occurred to me – what if I’m the dumb one?” – Jeb Bush

I’ve always assumed that everybody thinks they’re smart. Well maybe everybody doesn’t think they’re smarter than the folks around them, but we all think we’re smart enough, right? Like we all have to think we know enough to get ourselves around, we have to assume we understand things, don’t we? Otherwise how do we get out of bed? How would we face the world if we really knew we were going to lose most of our transactions, if we really thought other folks knew so much more than we did?

My family all thought we were clever, well, except Dad, maybe, but all my siblings have or had degrees, mostly earned later in life, not straight out of high school. All but me, but I’m the only one that both survived and lived a surburban family life, same job for thirty-plus years and kids.

When I was maybe fourteen, we bought a supermarket IQ test booklet out of the comic rack and I think I beat everyone on it, got some crazy high number that made me think I had a brain forever afterwards . . . LOL. Doesn’t sound too clever when you put it like that, does it? (For the record, on better tests, it’s my oldest sister who has the most horsepower upstairs, I think we all concede it. Also, the evaluation I took when I got depressed and dropped out of school said I was “oh yes, very smart, but a real dreamer,” something like that.) I really do think my mother and my siblings were and are a smart bunch, and I think I was competitive around the kitchen table, but again – because we must trust ourselves and our minds, objectivity isn’t really possible, is it? Even our dog has to think he is looking after us, that he knows best. This is a huge source of conflict and stress for creatures in large social groups, I guess, to feel necessary and relevant in the face of some obvious redundancy. In order for us to feel important, apparently we need to think our minds are important too. We need to tell ourselves we know something they don’t. ‘Them’ meaning everybody else, our competition.

So it should be no surprise when a fool like me appears to think he’s clever – and it’s no surprise to me if you think you are too. We sort of have to.

It’s a puzzle, isn’t it?

How can billions of people and hundreds or thousands of distinct voices all think they’re right?

. . . so what I’m saying, Jeb, I guess, is . . . uh . . . yeah. Horrifying as it might sound, it’s a possibility we really do have to consider. Due diligence and all.

Sorry.

Jeff,

Nov. 14, 2015