Not everyone can be smart

If something is difficult to learn, it is good to have someone to explain it to you. I wish I could do that sometimes. 

Certainly a lot can be done to improve our thinking, and perhaps most for those who start out with less, as I mentioned yesterday. But it is also a fact that we are born with different resources of the brain, just as with the body in general. Some are stronger, some are faster, some have more endurance, and some aren’t really good at sports even if they work at it. Everyone can improve, but not everyone can become a master, and certainly not without the most extreme effort. In the same way, some simply learn faster and think more quickly, and there are various other talents as well.

Reality is not a democracy. We are not all given the same number of “points”, like in some role playing games, where you just place them differently. In real life, some just start out with less. The world is not a level playing field. But that is not a reason to quit.


Let me take an example. After buying the Go board that I wrote about a few days ago, Amazon wanted to follow up by selling me some beginner books about Go. I don’t think that is necessary, as there are so many resources on the Internet. But the books exist and some people buy them.

Reading reviews of the books, I noticed that people had different opinions. Some criticized the classic Go for Beginners by Iwamoto, saying that it was hard to read, it was not suited for real beginners, you should read an easier book first such as for instance Learn to Play Go by Janice Kim. And what do you think people said about the first book by Janice Kim? It is too little substance, it is very friendly and easy to read but where is the beef? Is the author trying to earn more money by writing four books instead of one? You would be better off with a less fluffy book, like Go for Beginners by Iwamoto…

So that is how it is. For some people, learning Go is fairly easy, so they find a book “for dummies” to be fluffy, patronizing and a waste of time and money. For others, learning Go is hard, and they get lost and disappointed when the book treats difficult problems (for them) as something obvious.


It is good that there are many different books, then, and not just about Go! A book that is too hard for one, may be just right for another. And if you have to give up on one book, you may read another and then perhaps return to the first when you understand more.

This is not just for “dummies”. I could read newspapers and books before I started school, and used to read my school textbooks soon after I got them. Decades have passed with me being like that, and there are still many books that are hard for me to read. Indeed, some of my favorite books are so compact, half a page can be enough for me to digest in one session. And there are some books I think highly of, but which I only understand bits and pieces of, even though they are in English. But I have also experienced that after reading more on the topic, I could come back and read in the book again and gain more from it. There are books that may require several reads even for me, and I am not just talking about holy scriptures. These books would be out of reach for many gainfully employed people, unless perhaps they dedicated decades of their spare time to studying them.

But as I said, luckily there are books that are not written for scribes and professors. Some people have a gift for writing luminous prose, and some have trained themselves to keep the ordinary or even simpleminded reader in their thoughts when writing. I also do this when I take the time. I often go over what I have just written and replace words with more simple and common ones. Some detail is lost, but perhaps more people can get the gist of what I write.

I have left MSN as the start-up page on my Internet Explorer, so that I can be reminded each time I start it about the plight of the simpleminded. Not everyone can be smart, but they should be spared the indignity of being preyed on. Even if you are not smart, you are still human. The truly important things in life and death are the same to all of us, and it is not fair to distract people with breasts and dresses all the time. Not that there is anything wrong with breasts and dresses as such, but you should not need to be a sage to look for something deeper. Not everyone can be smart, but we are all human. We all deserve a chance at understanding ourselves and the world where we live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *