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Monday, May 9, 2022

How To Appear Intelligent


How To Appear Intelligent

It may surprise some of my readers to know that the Cranky Old Man is not too bright. 

I suspect (my excuse) for not being particularly bright is a combination of ADD and OCD, with a touch of Tourette’s; afflictions that did not exist when I was at the diagnosable age.

Like anyone with a disability I have learned to survive. 

The abilities of the blind or deaf often more than exceed those of people without such handicaps.  People somehow learn to develop ways to overcome and excel even with such incredible disadvantages. 

So can the unintelligent learn to disguise their stupidity.

It has taken me years to learn some of these stupidity-hiding tricks. 

I am thus imparting my knowledge of how to appear knowledgeable for the younger generation of…you know…not smart people.  For most of you this is either not needed or it is too late.  Perhaps your children and or grandchildren can benefit.

The first rule is never answer a question with

“Gee I have no idea.” 

Always offer an answer. 

The trick is to offer an answer that appears intelligent even when wrong.  When you learn the correct answer you respond,

“Oh yes, that’s right…I knew that!”

I offer several answers to topics where an incorrect guess will at least sound like you are knowledgeable. 

For instance, the answer to almost any complicated math question on “Jeopardy” is

“Negative 1” or


I have no idea why this is, but math questions are generally trick questions and if the answer is not either “Negative 1” or “Zero.” At least it looks like you know something. 

If it is obvious that either of these answers could not possible be correct, then answer,

“A Prime Number.”

I don’t know what that is either, but it is often the correct math answer.

The answer to the always asked literary question,

“What was the theme to this book/play/story/poem” is almost always,

“Man’s inhumanity to man!”

In my experience this is almost always the correct answer; if it is not, at least the professor will respond with,

“Ah…no…but I can see where you are going with that…possibly it could be a sub-theme."

Even the professor will not argue with your answer as it sounds so well thought out and knowledgeable.

When questioned about a large bird flying overhead the correct answer is,

“Looks like a red-tail hawk.”

Does not matter if you are wrong, that answer just smacks of you knowing stuff instead of,

“Gee I have no idea.” 

A question about chemistry…

“Hydrogen” is correct more often than not.

The reason for all wars ever fought is either

“Money” or “Religion.” Either one is always correct.

A question about English monarchy…

“George the Third.”  The correct answer is usually a George, and if your number is off it is still a good guess.  Of course, if it is a queen then “Mary” is the answer.

Which pope…?

“Pius V.”

A question about Shakespeare…

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the answer that appears the most knowledgeable when wrong.

When fly fishing, always declare that any fish you catch,

“Fought like a brownie!”

No true fisherman will ever dispute this response.

Always blame a poor shot in bowling on,

“The oil pattern is changing.”

Any sport.

“A good defense always beats a good offense.”

If you spell a word incorrectly,

“I was using the English version.”

A question about an early US President…? Go with John Quincy Adams.  An obscure President? Answer Millard Fillmore. You should know the 20th century Presidents, but if unsure best try Woodrow Wilson.

Well, you get the idea, never answer

“Gee I have no idea.”

A really bad guess somewhat on topic always gives you that aura of intellect to disguise the fact that you just might be stupid.

Why will people accept these usually wrong answers as indications of knowledge?

I have no idea.







  1. Hum, now you are making me think my Dad wasn't as smart as I thought he was. I saw a lot of his answers in your examples. He always gave the answer with such conviction that we never questioned him.

  2. You are quite bright to have picked up on this.

    Preface such an answer with, "If I'm remembering correctly, it's..." and you will be forgiven any incorrect answer. It's obvious that you simply forgot for the moment, that's all.

    "Even a fool is counted wise if he keeps his mouth shut." Proverbs 17:28

  3. I tried that tactic in 3rd grade, but unfortunately answered with "Millard Highlife." I think many of my cronies thought it sounded correct, but the teacher didn't buy it.

  4. I usually start with "I read somewhere that..." and then I rabbit on about things vaguely pertaining to the question. The real trick is to say things with conviction, so others are more inclined to believe you.

  5. well you have proved by writing this post that you are bright dear Joe
    i enjoyed all the advices you gave here and an ignorant person like me ca be benefited lot from it :)

  6. ...or Red Winged Blackbird, and Warren G. Harding

  7. Wise guidance you are providing since head nodding but saying nothing doesn't always work.

  8. Hmmm now me thinks the husband isn't as intelligent as he sounds.

  9. I guess "Gee, I'll get back to you on that" isn't a good answer? I do love the ones you've posted and as I've aged I realize I'm actually a good guesser, fly by the seat of my I also have learned in the operating room to never tell the surgeon "I've never done this surgery before"...just pretend and it usually comes out OK and you look much smarter than you actually are.

  10. I have Adult ADHD and OCD too and my bullshit answers are never questioned either, it's not like anyone is gonna research if they asked me in the first place.