Question #7

You are offered a Brain Pill. If you swallow this pill, you will become 10% more intelligent than you currently are; you will be more adept at reading comprehension, logic, and critical thinking. However, to all other people you know (and to all future people you meet), you will seem 20% less intelligent. In other words, you will immediately become smarter, but the rest of the world will perceive you as dumber (and there is now way you can ever alter the universality of this perception). Do you take this pill?

Which do I care about more — being smart, or having people think I’m smart? Is it worth being 10% smarter if I have people think I’m dumber? Better yet, do I need to be 10% smarter?

Also, how would people not catch on that I’m smarter? Say, for example, I’m taking a test or having a debate with someone — wouldn’t my test score/answers/debate points show that I know more and am thinking at least slightly differently than I used to? So wouldn’t people sort of realize that way that I’ve become smarter?

I don’t actually know the answer to any of these questions. Maybe if I had that pill, I would (ha). I’d like to say that I’m secure enough to be okay with people thinking I’m dumb when, really, I’m smart — but I don’t know about that. I don’t know that anyone particularly enjoys being talked to like they’re stupid or being told that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Also — and this is going to sound horrible, but… — do I really need to be smarter? I don’t mean that in a “I’m already so smart, it doesn’t matter” sort of way, nor do I mean that in an “Intelligence doesn’t matter to me” way. Before I take this pill, I just want to know when in my life these slightly enhanced skills will help me. According to this question, I’m not gaining knowledge of random information; instead, my comprehension, logic and critical thinking skills are getting better. I’ll be the first to admit, I could probably use a little more common sense sometimes (I’m not stupid, I just tend to jump headfirst into things without thinking them all the way through), but is it absolutely necessary to my well-being?

For now, I’m going to say that unless the person giving me this pill can give me concrete examples of how it will affect my intelligence (besides just making me 10% smarter) and actually make a necessary difference (I’m looking for reasons along the lines of “With your enhanced skills, you will land your dream job, work your way up the ranks, and eventually run your own publication. Without this pill, you won’t.”), I’m not going to take it.

5 thoughts on “Question #7

  1. Yes, I had to do this…

    Let’s say your IQ is 100. (I know it’s not, but it makes the math less annoying.) If you become 10% smarter, your IQ is 110. The way this is worded, I’m going to assume that when people perceive you as being 20% dumber, it’s 20% of your new intelligence level, not the old one. That means your perceived IQ is 88, which is only 12 points lower than what your IQ was before taking the pill. If you start with a high enough IQ, your perceived IQ could probably still be above average. I think that’s a reasonable sacrifice…


  2. So say you have a problem. With 10% more intelligence you would solve this problem faster. BUT you would spend more time convincing other people of your solution to this answer is correct. So I would say in the end it doesn’t really matter if you take it or not.


  3. The answer is obvious. My greater intelligence would improve my ability to compete in the World Free Market, while my competitors would be more likely to underestimate my ability. The net result: I would crush my competitors and gain monopolistic powers which would allow me to destroy unions, commoditize workers, and “save” countless distressed companies. Then I could move on to politics and run for County Executive on an anti-tax, anti-government, anti-poor, covertly racist platform. With the momentum my inevitable victory would provide, I would move up steadily to Governor, President and Emperor of the Universe.
    That’s why I took the pill, silly girl. I sure hope you know how to make coffee.


    1. Clearly I bow to you, oh Emperor of the Universe.

      But, if you’re that powerful, won’t you have found a way to replace lackeys like me and simply get coffee by, oh, I don’t know, just thinking about it or something like that?


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