If You Were Brilliant When You Were Ten...

by AspiringKnitter 1 min read27th Dec 201169 comments


(If I do anything wrong here, please tell me. I don't know what I'm doing and would benefit from being told what I've got wrong, if anything. I've never made a top-level post here before.)

So, it seems like most people here are really smart. And a lot of us, I'm betting, will have been identified as smart when we were children, and gotten complimented on it a lot. And it's pretty common for that to really mess you up, and then you don't end up reaching your full potential. Admittedly, maybe only people who've gotten past all that read Less Wrong. Maybe I'm the exception. But somehow I doubt that very much.

So here's the only thing I can think of to say if this is your situation: ask stupid questions.

Seriously, even if it shows that you have no clue what was just said. (Especially if it shows that. You don't want to continue not understanding.) You can optimize for being smart, you can optimize for seeming smart, but sometimes you need to pick which one to optimize for. It may make you uncomfortable to admit to not knowing something. It may make you feel like the people around you will stop thinking you're all-knowing. But if you don't know how to ask stupid questions, and you just keep pretending to understand, you'll fall behind and eventually be outed as being really, really stupid, instead of just pretty normal. Which sounds worse?

Here, let me demonstrate: so, what tags go on this post and how would I know?

So, anyone else know of any similar things to do, to get back to optimizing for being smart instead of for seeming smart?