Smart/Smart walkers only

It's dangerous to be too smart without being one of the smartest people whose ever lived 

One of the holdovers in my life from a time when video games were still my primary hobby is that I enjoy watching Northernlion streams, I really enjoy his brand of humour. Just off the top of the dome piece, it inspired me to write this blog.

The other week he was going off on biases and blind spots in smart people, and made up this 'punnett square' to describe the relationship of smart people. I took that bit and made the square:


This is an explanation of the square, with heavily borrowed prose from the man himself. 

  • Street Smarts isn't like knowing not to play 3 card monty, it's also being situationally and aware and emotionally aware. Knowing the context of situations and what's appropriate when, and how to take the temperature of the room.
  • Book Smarts compromises both like academic expertise and rationality. People who can study something, or think their way through something within that structured environment.
  • Being 100% smart(Smart/Smart) is great. Full Stop. This is people who are generally brilliant, but have a growth mindset and realize they don't know everything but can probably learn it. They know how to ask the right questions to ask and the right people to consult to check their biases. Smart/Smart people are self critical and can admit when they are wrong.
  • Being 100% dumb(Dumb/Dumb) is really bad, because you're not smart and you're probably too dumb to trust smart people. See anti vaxxers, podcast fans. Contrarianism for the sake of it and the inability to make short term sacrifices for long term gains is prevalent.
  • It's good to be Dumb/Smart. You can be dumb academically, but smart enough to trust smarter people and that's a good position to be in. Not as good as being Smart/Smart, but if you have a lot of emotional intelligence you can get by knowing to ask for help and defer where appropriate. Self awareness is a key traight.
  • Being Smart/Dumb is the danger zone. That's where you're smarter than the average person and too dumb to realize that your intelligence doesn't extend to every. Like being a successful chemical engineer and thinking that makes you a better driver, baker and so on than the average person. Some highlights of the Smart/Dumb people I've seen in my life are civil engineers who were able to rationalize themself down stupid conspiracy theories like government mask mandates were just a test to see if they could control us, and software engineers who think because they can write a few lines of code and think algorithmically means they can read and understand research papers from totally unrelated disciplines. Smart/Dumb people are confidently incorrect.


Surround your self with Smart/Smart people and Smart/Dumb people. Where do you think you fall on the square? Where do you think I fall?


This article was updated on January 24, 2024