Are You a Simpleton, Midwit, or a Genius?

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Image of a goofy man representing the dimwit meme by GradSimple.

I realized I’m a simpleton.

Have you heard of the midwit meme? It’s a bell curve of intelligence. On the left, there’s the simpleton. On the right, there’s the genius. And in the middle, there’s the midwit.

Both the simpleton and genius reach the same conclusion. The simpleton is too blissfully ignorant to overthink things. The genius is wise enough to know not to overthink. Both are usually open to new ideas and experiences.

The midwit overthinks. They need to find the “perfect” time. They must research every possible scenario, plan for every eventuality, and learn all the skills before they can even think to begin. And they relish the opportunity to point out why something would never work.

Dimwit meme by GradSimple

I’m no midwit.

I’m also certainly no Jedi master. I like to think I’m wise and know not to overthink, but I can’t, not with a straight face. Maybe I just don’t think. No, that’s not it. But I’ve always been more of a simpleton. Not in the IQ sense, but more in being oblivious to the odds stacked against me.

If you asked my dad, he’d probably describe me as ultra-careful, calculated, and composed. He’s not entirely wrong.

Ask people in my life and you’ll get a similar assessment. They’ll say I’m introverted as hell. I come across as aloof, shy even. That’s them being nice too. 

But I have a hyper-intense, eat-risk-for-lunch side as well.

Ok, that’s a tad bit extreme. More like I have a sorta-intense, sip-risk-for-breakfast side?

Anyway, I make life decisions based on expected value.

What’s that, you ask? It’s a probability formula that tells you the predicted outcome of an investment or decision over time. Have I lost you?

Basically, I make life decisions by choosing the option with the highest expected payoff—whether it’s satisfaction, fulfillment, or sometimes money—even if it involves taking big, calculated risks. For example, in 2022, I quit my stable 9-to-5 job to flip digital images for a living. Yes, NFTs. And yes, I actually made a lot of money.

Not very controversial in theory, but a lot of people don’t behave this way in real life. Midwits sure as heck don’t. If you identify as one, don’t be offended.

The average person makes choices to avoid losses rather than seek out gains. People feel the pain of a loss more strongly than the pleasure of an equivalent gain. This is called loss aversion.

So if anything, I’m goofy.

Most people don’t know this version of me. It’s not that I try to hide it, I just don’t care to publicize it. If they find out – cool. If not, also cool.

Because I’m goofy, I tend to act on my curiosities, even if it’s too ‘risky.’

“That will never work” is not in my vocabulary. I go full Alice in Wonderland, drilling down the rabbit hole and exploring every whimsical twist and turn. This is not always a good thing.

I’m like that kid at the science center, frantically pushing every button and pulling every lever within reach, leaving a trail of lights, sounds, and chaos as I get dragged along by my mom. I admit, I have shiny object syndrome.

Hey, at least I have a ‘bias for action,’ so you can say I’m like Jeff Bezos, just without the 204.6 billion dollars.

I’ve gone on a tangent, enough about me. My point is that I’d rather be a simpleton than a midwit. Because at least the simpleton shows up. Showing up, having the bravado and audacity to try and do things – even if it seems “stupid” – is better than doing nothing. If anything, it’s just more fun.

The midwit loves to point out flaws and contradictions. The midwit is too busy planning, analyzing, arguing, and figuring out why this or that is wrong or won’t work. And they’re often right.

But I’d argue that all “geniuses” used to be simpletons, not midwits. Because, midwits don’t act.

Midwit → Simpleton → Genius

The difference between a simpleton and a genius is in success. Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg were simpletons before they earned their stripes.

Since I have nothing to show for it – yet, I’m a proud simpleton.

So which one do you want to be?

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The human who runs the ship. Occasional writer, occasional web developer. Yes, this is the guy who hired a raccoon (if you know, you know).

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