Tuesday, October 24, 2006


If you could only have one of the following attributes, would you rather be smart or clever?

smart[smahrt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation verb, adjective, -er, -est, adverb, noun
7.quick or prompt in action, as persons.
8.having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability: a smart student.
9.shrewd or sharp, as a person in dealing with others or as in business dealings: a smart businessman.
10.clever, witty, or readily effective, as a speaker, speech, rejoinder, etc.

[klev-er] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective, -er, -est.
1.mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence; able.
2.superficially skillful, witty, or original in character or construction; facile: It was an amusing, clever play, but of no lasting value.
3.showing inventiveness or originality; ingenious: His clever device was the first to solve the problem.

Dictionary.com seems to be of the opinion that the two words are essentially the same but I disagree. Smart often implies sensibility; making the sound decision or taking the right course of action. Mental aptitude is also a component of the definition but I always tend to think of "smart" in terms of processing data. You have to be smart in order to understand topics like Differential Equations and Moral Relativism. It takes smarts to finish your sudoku in less than five minutes. Smart people are often their own bosses. All good things, I concede, but kind of fucking boring.

I prefer clever. Clever is how you get out of doing things you do not want to do. Clever is issuing pencils rather than spending thousands of dollars on the development of a pen that will write in space. Clever is what allows you to make fun of people to their faces without them knowing it. And clever leads to thinking up such postulates as The Michael Seaver Theory.

The Michael Seaver Theory

The theory that public opinion regarding an actor's real life persona directly impacts the marketability of his body of work. To wit, if Kirk Cameron weren't such a douchebag Growing Pains would be much more widely syndicated than his sister's Full House which both time and a really bad Beach Boys video have shown to be the vastly inferior of the two programs.


At 10/24/2006 10:21 PM, Blogger Dara said...

Excellent theory.

At 10/24/2006 10:59 PM, Anonymous DCVIta said...

I definately agree with you. I would rather be clever than smart. I think being clever is more understanding and reading people, and manipulating certain situations to your favor.

At 10/25/2006 7:33 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Thank you, I'm quite proud of it. Can you believe this BS about Girardi and Pendleton withdrawing their names from consideration? WHat the hell is going on?

"Manipualting certain situations." I love it. There is something just a bit nefarious about being clever. It's so much more fun.

At 10/25/2006 10:05 AM, Blogger Hey Pretty said...

I hear ya. Clever all the way. Who cares about being good at Sudoku when you can instead be inventing viable excuses for why you were late for work?

At 10/25/2006 11:11 AM, Blogger Dara said...

I was kinda hoping we'd get Girardi. He did one heck of a job with the Marlins this year.

At 10/25/2006 12:18 PM, Blogger Irish Red said...

Definitely Clever - which also implies 'smart ass' - my favorite personality trait.

But the growing pains theory...Mike Seaver was the best reason to watch that show!

At 10/25/2006 12:45 PM, Blogger Jason said...

I really wanted Girardi too. Not in a gay way. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Yes Mike Seaver was indeed the highlight, although "Boner" runs a close second, but that's the point. It's all of those ridiculous Left Behind movies that he makes which have ruined the mystique.

At 10/25/2006 1:03 PM, Anonymous Ryane said...

Jason--what a great post. Now..just to be the devil's advocate...

While I agree that to be clever is waaay more fun than to be merely smart, why does your definition of 'smart' include: clever, witty?

By your definition, wouldn't being 'smart' be more desirous as it would also suggest that one was witty and clever?? It's a tough call. Frankly--I think that one must be smart to be clever...I haven't ever really encounterd a witty moron--but I suppose I have encountered a non-clever smarty. Hmm...intriguing.

PS: Boner does run a close second to Mike Seaver..so true. But really, who was worse, Kirk Cameron or Tracy Gold--with her queen's portion of Lifetime for Women movies?

At 10/25/2006 1:39 PM, Blogger Momentary Academic said...

Is it just me, or do you think that clever needs an audience.

At 10/25/2006 2:26 PM, Blogger Dara said...

I think someone can be smart without being clever or clever without being smart. The best kind of person is both.

I'm not sure that Growing Pains is really better than Full House, but I'm totally with you on the fact that KC is such a turn-off nowadays that it works against syndication. I think you can also think of it as a corollary of the Tom Cruise or Michael Jackson effect -- the weirder they get, the less inclined people are to pay money for their crap.

At 10/25/2006 4:54 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Oooh good point, clever does need an audience. If a wry remark is uttered in the forest, will anyone laugh?

We might be on to something here. Cleverness does require smarts but not vice versa. That whole square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square thing. Interesting development...

At 10/25/2006 10:01 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Clever. Everyone wants a smart guy to sit down at a poker table. But when a clever player sits down everyone winds up shirtless.


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