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2020 / 2023



I had an email from a blog I commented on in 2020 today, just an auto-update that told me someone had replied to the comment string—not even to my comment. Nevertheless, I was prompted to read my own comment back to myself. As is common with most people, I suffer from a revulsion at reading back what I have written, especially at a distance in time, and also a revulsion at hearing my own voice recorded. Yet I decided to overcome this narcissism at once and read the comment back to myself.


What struck me was that the comment was both very similar to what I say today and yet my view on the issue had totally changed. So at first I was disappointed to find that I hadn’t really developed in three years—although I know, in fact, that most people only have a few ideas that they reiterate in different ways.


To clarify: the post was about the “midwit meme” above and I responded to the post in line with its consideration as regards what the midwit believes; so I posted that Descartes and Socrates were the original midwits—being people who challenged all presumptions and vexed people who tried to go about their business in a traditional way. The point is developed from Nietzsche, really.


What has changed since then is that when confronted with the “midwit meme” my first response would now be: “It’s not about IQ”. Rather than any interest in what midwits or topwits do or do not believe—whether it’s Nietzsche versus Hitchens—today I find the topic misses the point; and so my own comment seemed irrelevant to me, not wrong—just not relevant to the topic at hand.


Rather, it would be my reaction today that the issue is about whether people are agreeable or disagreeable—and that’s what the bell curve should really show, the distribution of those traits in a society. It’s about whether you’re someone who “goes with the flow” or is a “difficult bastard”—if the latter, you’ll be “topwit” or “moron”; if the former, you’ll be “midwit”.


The herd is agreeable—there are many very intelligent people who are also very agreeable; and, indeed, to be a cooperative and agreeable person is a trait found in those with high intelligence. Reddit, per the meme, constitues an agreeable place—4chan is not agreeable. So the meme is incorrect—and, aside from agreeability, it should also take narcissism into account (the herd is narcissistic—though, of course, to be narcissistic is also to be agreeable, to make people fall in love with you).


The original post referred to the “deep truth” in the meme—today I would say the meme is barely true, whereas before I accepted the meme and just looked at the subjective characteristics found in a “midwit”. Today, I’d say my comments about Descartes and Socrates are true—have relevance to what the left is—but are not relevant to the meme at hand. Indeed, Socrates, being a stubborn man, so much so that he had to commit suicide by state fiat in the end, would be more “topwit”—being disagreeable—than “midwit” in the new formulation.


So what’s changed is that I would reject the idea there’s “deep truth” to the meme—on the contrary, it’s shallow and allows people who are just difficult and possibly anti-social to flatter themselves that they are intelligent (for even if you consider yourself to be the drooling moron, you still share opinions with the topwit—hence you acquire his status by-proxy).


I also think I now see the meme in a more objective and scientific way, whereas before I would have just been interested in the ideas—and to think about those ideas, to project those ideas into a “midwit”, constitutes a more subjective psychological act. Overall, perhaps I think intelligence is less important than I did three years ago—and I would also say, today, that just to be difficult doesn’t mean you tell the truth or are even right.

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