Maybe the person who "really isn't good at anything" is actually good about not being good at anything.

Your parents were right. Smart people are a dime a dozen. As you point out, there is also not enough emphasis on the abilities/skills needed to do work not viewed as acceptable labor for "smart people." Carpenters, plumbers, masons, other skilled laborers are required to be proficient in mathematics, along with other skills. These same people may not do very well on a high school mathematics exam (then again, neither did I. that's one reason why I'm a lawyer). Yet, on a daily basis they are required to apply geometry, algebra, and calculus.

Work calls. I'm now required to be one of the smartest people in the room (hold on, I'm the only person in this cell).

Joel Monka

Perhaps the person who isn't good at anything is actually very good at something that hasn't been invented yet. What would Bill Gates be had he been born in any other century?


I wish someone had taught me early on what your parents taught you - that smart people are a dime a dozen. I figured it out the hard way. Unfortunately, some of my in-laws still haven't figured it out and seem to think that just because that they've done something really clever that the money will follow. But I will keep in mind the quote from Megan & try to focus on their personhood as opposed to how lacking in EQ they are, despite their high IQs. In general, I think people-skills, common sense, and will power can get you much further than brain power alone.

And yes, respect for everyone is important. (I think this is what irritates me most about some of my in-laws, they condescend to those they deem less smart without respecting other qualities).


OK, I have to admit, I find this post more than a little odd. We do not, in America, overvalue intelligence. We overvalue wealth, we overvalue athletic achievement, we overvalue people who dominate other people, we overvalue people who function without genuine empathy, we overvalue looks, we overvalue youth, we overvalue glamor and celebrity, we overvalue schmoozers and political game-players, we overvalue winning. I'd even say we overvalue hard work to a certain extent (although that's a bit complicated since the hardest-working people are often not justly compensated).

But we do not overvalue intelligence.

America is at best ambivalent about intellectual achievement and at worst a profoundly anti-intellectual nation (see current occupant of White House or teachers, compensation of). So your post has me scratching my head, as if you were saying 'there's too much pro-black racism in this country' or something. If you were in a corporate meeting with important men and women whom you did not know, you would put yourself at risk (rightfully so) by using common slurs for gays, lesbians, minorities, heavy people, sexually promiscuous people, and others. However, you would probably be safe using "dweeb", "geek", "nerd", or any number of other adolescent terms designed to disrespect intellectuals.

I emphatically agree with the idea of respecting everyone. Wouldn't that include not using derogatory slurs to label people as being "socially inept and sexually underdeveloped and/or undesirable"? And not scoffing at the idea that intelligence merits respect ("smart people are a dime a dozen")?

The Happy Feminist

I agree that there is a disturbing strain of anti-intellectualism in American culture. At the same time, there is also a tendency in many quarters to obsess over inherent intelligence -- hence the popularity of IQ tests and tests purporting to test "aptitude" and Baby Einstein products.

But my post wasn't really intended to address the attitudes of American culture towards smart people. Rather, it was intended to address attitudes often held by smart people.

I agree that respecting people includes not using derogatory slurs to label people as socially inept and sexually undesirable. That's why I have never used such a slur. (Please see thread on More Generational Musings regarding my utterance of the word "geek"-- not to slur anyone but to discuss a stereotype invoked by a movie director whose move I did not approve of.)

I don't think that saying "smart people are a dime dozen" means that intelligence doesn't merit respect. But intelligence does need to put into perspective. It's a good thing but it ain't the be-all and end-all that some people believe that it is.


I really liked the idea that being a smart guy is not all it takes to be filthy rich.There is a lot more life has to offer and being a genius does not automatically mean you will have an easy grab of all those goodies.I used to think that way too long before i had a concrete comprehension of what life means.

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