We smart folk need you to act a lot stupider

Paul Flaig Column

I’m not one to brag, but I’m a pretty smart guy. Ever since I arrived at Northwestern I have been impressed by own brilliance, in terms of both independent achievement, as well as in contrast to the vast array of stupidity here in Evanston. Though I have a high grade point average, I don’t like to point that out because anyone can get good grades. I don’t want to give the impression that I sit on high in my own isolated fortress of genius, looking down on everyone below. I’ve managed to find a reasonably intelligent group of friends, yet secretly I often remind myself how dense they all really are.

But recently I’ve started having doubts. Is it possible that I’m not as smart as I think I am? At first the question seems laughable. But then I ponder those around me, my fellow NU students: Doesn’t everybody, in fact, think they are smarter than everyone else? I know that my friends also think most NU students are dumb. And then I overhear people (who, from my perspective, lack the basic smarts of a lab rat) complaining about the dearth in brain power on campus. How is it that all these stupid people think they’re so smart, and why are they complaining the same way I am? Does this mean that some of them consider me dumb? Does it make them smart?

Certainly not. But regardless of whether I am as smart as I think I am, this faith every student has in their intelligence reveals something of interest. I think I’m smarter than my hippie friend, who thinks he is smarter than some fratboy, who thinks he’s smarter than some country bumpkin, etc. Or perhaps I think I’m smarter than the fratboy, who thinks he’s smarter than the hippie. However the chain goes, it appears that everyone thinks they are pretty smart, and those stupids around them confirm this. Ultimately, this leaves everyone constantly trying to point out their own intelligence, competing viciously with those around them — all racked with self-doubt over how smart they might not be.

The real question, then, is whether there is an absolute zero of stupidity. In other words, is there some poor idiot who knows how hopelessly dumb he or she is and never perceives a group below him or her? At first we might feel pity for such a soul, but I would advise against condescension. In fact, in order to avoid all the self-doubt and egoism that go with this hierarchy, I advise NU students to affirm their own Absolute Stupidity.

If you did, you would never constantly question yourself in relation to those around you, nor would you judge others with vicious insults about their low IQs. You wouldn’t feel pressure to always appear smarter than everyone else and could just be comfortable with who you are: an idiot. You could just live a small and meaningless life without worry or neurosis.

All that you need now is the courage to stand out from the crowd and admit that you don’t have a clue. Answer the call of idiocy and throw off the shackles of intelligence. It is up to you, dear reader, to understand that in this day and age, stupidity is a prerequisite for your happiness.

I hope you are smart enough to see the importance of being stupid. But I doubt you are.

Paul Flaig is a Weinberg senior. He can be reached at [email protected]