Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I am smarter than you
I used to think of myself as very smart. This was a mistake, because what really matters is the ability to communicate ideas, whether through teaching or writing. It helps to have ideas, of course, but there will always be people more intellectually brilliant or more erudite, with more knowledge of philosophy or theory, than me (or you, probably). Some of these smart people write books that I cannot even understand (not smart enough maybe?), but then I wonder... I am fairly smart, so a book I don't understand probably puts itself out of range of large numbers of reasonably intelligent academic readers. Academic writing is already out of range of most of the general public, who read nothing at all. It is usually too specialized to be of much interest, and also very difficult. Often it is not well-written either. It should be possible to write in a way that at least reaches the average academic reader. I'd say even the below average one. You know that half of college professors are in the bottom 50th percentile of college professors? I'd say that something that an undergraduate majoring in your own field could understand might be a reasonable standard.