The other night I did that thing on Substack: you follow one writer you like’s recommendations onto another’s and onto another’s and, before you know it, you’re down a rabbit hole. While down there I came across the term “midwits”. It really made me laugh. I know I’m late to it, but my finger is not on the cool kids’ internet jargon pulse.
But I love it. Instead of the dimwit for the stupid, we have a pejorative term for those of average or even above-average intelligence, who do not share the same worldview.
According to the internet, a midwit has an IQ score between 85 and 115. This is probably most of us. (I once did an IQ test and scored 136, but I think it was a fluke. I’m never doing another one, as I do not want to put that score in jeopardy). A midwit is probably university educated, has reasonable qualifications, is of slightly above average ability, but who is in no way exceptional. (Me in a nutshell, probably you too, but, as I say, not with the same worldview).
Because midwits occasionally read, they think they are superlatively intelligent. Because all around them think the same, they think have the right opinions about everything.
Really, midwit is a libertarian or alt-right term for someone out of that left-of-centre blob that seems to proliferate in large corporations, in middle management, across the internet, in suburbia, in bureaucracies, in commissioning, in planning, in government, and so on.
You’ve probably seen an IQ Bell Curve meme at some stage on your travels. They are the best. Idiots and geniuses arrive at the same conclusion, midwits in the blobby middle take the opposing view. Here’s the template.
Here’s a beauty about inflation.
I love them. I should have done one about Brexit - if I only I had some basic (midwit) picture-editing skills.
By the way, a process I noticed with comedy was that those comedians who weren’t quite good enough to make it as comedians, but knew they had something to offer, would often become producers. I think something similar might happen again: those that aren’t quite good enough to be top producers, but have something to offer, then become commissioners, with the result that commissioning is full of midwits. Just a theory, very generalised, and I probably feel that way because of the lack of success I’ve had with commissioners over the years. (I doubt any commissioners are reading this BTW. At least I hope they’re not). But you get the point.
On personality types
I’ve met many different people over the years but there are two types that seem to stand out.
One is of the let’s-try-this-and-see-what-happens mentality. Rather than study something for years before trying it, they dive in and learn on the job. If it goes wrong, well, so be it. At least we tried. It’s not so much a who-do-I-ask mentality as a why-not-what’s-going-to-stop-me? Such types end up entrepreneurs, explorers, inventors, sometimes artists.
Then there is a much more cautious, risk-averse type. They’ll often focus on why you can’t do something rather than why you can. They seek permission not forgiveness. These types often end up in structured, safe careers with clear parameters- civil servants, solicitors, accountants that kind of thing. They tend to be employees, rather than self-employed. They often do well in big company environments, such as the BBC, the NHS, most corporations, the government itself, where it doesn’t pay to rock the boat.
I guess in a successfully functioning group or society you want a healthy balance of the two types. One to push boundaries and the other to reign them in.
What concerns me with government today is that power and decision-making has fallen into the hands of this risk-averse, health and safety mindset that proliferates public health, that we dare not do anything. National destiny is determined by people whose first instinct is to find reasons why you can't do something, not why you can. There is too much focus on their own career risk.
We saw it like mad during Covid. Rules were imposed out of fear. Under pressure, the government quickly changed from the Swedish approach to the international approach, before they fully understood the illness, even though the efficacy of certain measures - masks and lockdown - was disputed. It was a safety-first, career-risk first approach. One set of data - Covid deaths and infections - was scrutinised. The other, immeasurable data set, which was the cost of locking down, went ignored.
It's pure Bastiat and his broken window parable. Not just the cost to businesses and the economy, and all those whose livelihoods were ruined, but the cost of having lives, relationships, social contact, free movement, experiences, to kids for example of having their school or university years taken from them.
Many paid a price they should not have had to pay. The medicine - from lockdown to the economy to vaccine side-effects - seems to have been more harmful than the disease itself. Collectivism is supposed to be for the greater good.
But this is the midwit way of thinking. We are ruled by midwits. They control our institutions. They control decision-making, the media, the narrative. Maybe a buccaneering king or emperor of that other mindset, personality one, might be preferable to what we call democracy.