December 13, 2006

Acting Smarter Than You Are

May sent me this today, and I thought, man, this is great weaseling (which we practise and aim to perfect at the office). The article's by Dilbert's Scott Adams, oh hailed father of weaseling.

People have often told me that I seem smarter than I really am. I accept the compliment. As you know, appearances are more important than substance. And so, because I love you, I will teach you some tricks for appearing smarter than you are. Believe me, it comes in handy.

First, and this cannot be over-emphasized, you need to wear corrective lenses even if your eyesight is perfect. Spectacles add ten imaginary points to your I.Q. You’ll be amazed at how many people stop you on the street to ask tax questions. That’s been happening to me since fourth grade. I’ll always wonder how many people went to jail because of my advice on offshore tax shelters.

You might think that corrective lenses are unattractive, but what you don’t know is that there are quite a few people who have major fetishes for brainy people. It’s probably some sort of evolution thing. You probably think Stephen Hawking is in that wheelchair because of a motor neuron disease. But if you got as much barely-legal student poontang as The Hawkster, you’d be in a wheelchair too. And for the women reading this, I’ve noticed that Tina Fey isn’t walking too straight lately either. If you ladies want more action, get glasses.

I used to think that the glasses-wearing geek was just a stereotype perpetuated by, um, me, until I gave a speech at M.I.T. About 80% of the audience wore spectacles. I assume that the other 20% wore contacts. That is not a coincidence. People who have bad eyesight are smarter than average and everyone knows it. What everyone WON’T know is that you bought your glasses at the Halloween Superstore.

Second, you must learn to stop talking so much. Talking is the surest way to inadvertently showcase profound ignorance. If the conversation turns toward the political unrest in the Chechen Republic, that’s a good time to ask if anyone needs a drink. People won’t know if you’re escaping the discussion because you know nothing about politics or if you’re just so tired of arguing about the 1999 attack on Dagestan. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

It’s also good to know a few brainy words that only appear in high-end publications. The two words you need most are zeitgeist and eponymous. I try to drop one of those two intellectual turds into conversations as often as possible. If you use those words with confidence, people will naturally assume you know lots of other big words. If someone responds with big words of his own, that’s the time to stop talking entirely and do a lot of nodding and smiling. This leads me to my next tip.

It’s important to agree with people if you want them to think you are a genius. For most people, the definition of smart is “Thinks exactly like me but even more so.” If you think that disagreeing and offering excellent reasons for your thinking will change anyone’s mind, you might be new on this planet. The best outcome you can expect from any conversation is that the other person will walk away thinking you’re probably the CEO of something, assuming you also seem selfish, egocentric and unethical.

You can round out your artificial sense of smartness by becoming a fake wine expert. I have a wine-loving friend who taught me how to bluff my way through any discussion of wine. The trick is to learn a lot about a few types of wine and steer the conversation toward the few things you actually know. If you combine that with acting interested when other people blab about wine that you will never, ever, ever taste, you look like a world-traveling gourmand.

Oh, and add “gourmand” to zeitgeist and eponymous. If you learn to use all three words in a sentence, before long you’ll need your own wheelchair and voice synthesizer.

Let's see, I've got people 'up there' whose brains are size and use of barnacles, and enthusiasm of an old granny who has lost the will to live. Oh yeah, I'm so there.

1 comment:

Dinah said...

"you need to wear corrective lenses even if your eyesight is perfect. Spectacles add ten imaginary points to your I.Q." That's ten points for your genius sarcasm sir.