How to Sound Smart Without Really Trying
THIS BEAUTY QUEEN SHOULD'VE READ MY TIPS!
Thankfully for most of us, people do not walk around with radar guns reading our IQ and SAT scores, or Myers Briggs evaluations. Strangers you meet at cocktail parties or at coffee shops cannot read the recent memorandum you wrote to your boss or email you typed to your daughter, both laced with despicable and inexcusable grammatical errors. This is unfortunate for intelligent people who have difficulty communicating and exhibiting their meaty minds. It is a blessing, however, for idiotic people who actually sound great. For those of you who can't even spell S-A-T or for you geniuses that mumble and "umm…" your way through conversations, the following aremy easy and cheap tips to sounding smart, or even smarter, than you think you are.
Though Amazon.com and Borders have myriads of books claiming they will make you Sound Smart by teaching you to Improve Your Vocabulary, these books are more likely to end up unread in your annual garage sale. By focusing on CURRENT EVENTS, RANDOM DETAILS, and VOCABULARY in your DAILY life you will fool others into thinking/knowing you are brilliant.
What you learn here will not necessarily improve your intelligence; I am teaching you how to SOUND intelligent. An obvious and beneficial consequence of this exercise, however, is that you will actually improve your intelligence! And you’ll hardly have to exercise any brain power to do it!
1. CURRENT EVENTS-READ and LISTEN10-15 minutes/day
Obviously, reading is NOT a revolutionary method of improving intelligence-it’s the oldest trick in the book (pun obviously intended). STICK WITH ME, though! The important part of this tip is focusing on WHAT you read. You could be the foremost expert in the mapping of the Human Genome (which would mean you are J. Craig Venter), but if you don't know that Dennis Kucinich is a 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate who claims to have seen a UFO, you are going to sound like an idiot.
WHAT YOU READ
The moment you finish reading this fascinating piece, go to Slate.com and sign up for their daily newspaper summary, which gives short reviews of lead stories from the major daily newspapers. This should only take you about 5-10 minutes to read every morning (10 minutes if you’re really slow) and is a GREAT way to keep up-to-date on current events. If you need to know a bit more about a story included in the summary, click on the corresponding link and skim the actual article.
Cancel your subscription to PEOPLE magazine or [insert name of trashy entertainment news magazine here] immediately after signing up for the Slate.com newsletter and subscribe to THE WEEK magazine at www.theweekdaily.com (only 99 cents per issue!). Just as the Slate.com newsletter summarizes newspapers, THE WEEK summaries what magazines and newspapers from around the world are writing about pressing issues. THE WEEK's tagline, "Everything Important You Need to Know," couldn't be more accurate. With its science & technology, business, travel, arts & leisure, political cartoons, famous quotes and editorial sections, you will find yourself reading fascinating tidbits that are much more interesting than you thought articles in those sections would be (I didn't give a hoot about Science until THE WEEK, and now the Science section is the first one I turn to and has articles like,"Your office job might be killing you" . The real estate section is one of my favorites, and gives a sample of houses for sale in a specific market. This means there are PICTURES, my friends! THE WEEK even has a celebrity & gossip page for those of you who can't read enough garbage.
THE WEEK not only provides another way to LEARN about what is going on, it gives you a unique perspective about what media outlets in other countries are saying about current issues. Just imagine:
Your Boss: "Mike Huckabee [2008 Republican Presidential Nominee Candidate] will never be elected-he wants to quarantine people with AIDS!"
You: "Well idiotic views about AIDS haven't stopped other national leaders from being elected. The current South African President has previously said that he doesn't think HIV causes AIDS, and his successor, who will probably win the next election, has said that taking a shower after intercourse can ward off HIV."
The information "you" just presented was from a South African newspaper, the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian. I will discuss the importance of retaining a few details later, but note that "you" provided VERY few details. You didn't know the name of either leader, when their ignorant statements were made, or when the elections were. HOWEVER, YOU IMPRESSED YOUR BOSS!
I do not have enough accolades for THE WEEK; I will not let my boyfriend read it because I think everything interesting I say comes from the magazine, and I want him to think I'm interesting on my own accord...oh the deception! It works though, trust me.
Best of all, an ENTIRE issue will only take you about ONE HOUR to read-that is about the time it takes me to get through 1/8 of The Economist! Because you will receive one issue per week (obviously-since it is called THE WEEK, after all), this calculates to less than 10 minutes/day. That means you could read an entire issue during only TWO 30-minute sessions on the elliptical, or ONE DAY of commuting on the subway to or from work. AMAZING!
I have purchased this subscription as a holiday/birthday present for almost all of my friends in an attempt to wean them off their trashy magazines; so far, my attempts have been successful!
WHAT YOU LISTEN TO
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
In the morning when you are in the shower or in the car driving to work, turn on your local NPR station. Boring, you think? Some may agree, but listening for two minutes won't kill you. You'll get a bit of the daily news and pick up some good talking points from their longer pieces.
Sound repetitive with the current events? THAT'S THE POINT! Repetition=retention!
Less than 30 seconds/day
Throwing in random details about a topic people are discussing will also make you sound knowledgeable. THE WEEK is a good place to get these random details because, as I mentioned before, they include coverage from around the world about different current events.
You should obviously not try to commit millions of details from THE WEEK to memory because in trying to do so, you won’t remember any of them. Instead, pick a few details that are specifically interesting to you. For example:
Co-Worker’s Lame Girlfriend at Company Holiday Party: “I hate real Christmas trees. Like, no one gets real trees anymore.”
You: “Actually, 2 out of 3 homes in America have real Christmas trees. To meet the huge demand for real trees, Christmas tree growers plant 73 million trees every year! And…you’re lame.”
One of the most easily recognizable “measures of intelligence” is a person's vocabulary. Don't you acquiesce? Though you could purchase a book from Amazon.com about improving your vocabulary, there is a FREE way to do so without expending too much time with rote memorization and flash cards.
Again, it involves singing up! Go to Dictionary.com and sign up for the Word-of-the-Day email. After reading your Slate.com summary in your email inbox, read the Word of the Day, also delivered to your email inbox. If the word of the day is one you think you can use, write it on a list you keep near your computer and try to use it in a sentence that day. True, doing this everyday could be a bit tedious, so be choosey about those words you want to commit to memory. For example, the word, "friable \FRY-uh-buhl\, adjective:Easily crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder" is not necessarily a difficult word, but probably one I will not use frequently as I don’t cook and will therefore never need to buy some friable feta for a feast. On the other hand, "gesticulate \juh-STIK-yuh-layt\, intransitive verb: to make gestures or motions, especially while speaking or instead of speaking" is a word I use all the time.
PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT overuse some of your favorite "big words." If "gesticulate" is the only four-syllable word you utter and you do it daily, your efforts to deceive and sound brilliant will be defeated and you will just sound annoying and pretentious.
4. WARNING: READ THIS NEXT TIP ONLY IF YOU are TRULY COMMITTED TO SOUNDING SMART!
+ many minutes/day
The above tips are VERY easy, cheap, and require minimal time and commitment. If you want to sound REALLY smart, however, this tip is for you: TURN OFF THE TELEVISION!
Begin a phrase with, "I saw on TV last night," and you are immediately lowering your IQ whatever poor chap is listening to you. This isn't because there is nothing worth watching on television (the Discovery Channel and the History Channel have some very interesting programs), but because of the stereotypical image of a fat, fainéant fool laying around in front of the television. Consider the following:
Couch Potato: "I saw on TV last night that Dennis Kucinich has a hot, young wife."
Brilliant Bookworm: "I read this week that the ebullient Dennis Kucinich met his beautiful wife, who is almost half his age, when she came into see him on the Hill as a lobbyist."
After a week, you will NOT miss the television! You can keep one of your favorite shows as a perfunctory part of your week, but with all these others interesting outlets to keep you occupied, you will not enjoy your time with the television as much. Hurrah!