The New York Times' "Room For Debate" is an entrancingly dumb recurring feature in which they get a handful of vaguely qualified people to opine on various important questions such as, today, "Are People Getting Dumber?" As we have done before, we now offer our own perspectives on an issue of substance: "Am I Smarter Than You?"
Adrian Chen: I Wrote Five Books This Weekend Alone
This weekend I wrote two novels, one biography of Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf's sister, a graphic novel about life during China's Cultural Revolution, and a guide to defragging your PC hard drive. (That last one was more of a pamphlet, but whatever.) So, yes. I am smarter than you.
Maureen O'Connor: I'll Answer With a List
Instead of answering this insecurity-inspiring question, I think I'll just make a ranked list of how smart all of my co-workers are: Emma, Max, Hamilton, Toder, Leah, Me, John, Brian, Ryan, Adrian, A.J. Did I list their names in descending order, or ascending? I'll never tell.
Emma Carmichael: I'm Only Getting Smarter
Everyone is panicking over the Internet's role in "dumbing down society," but the truth is that the Internet is actually making me smarter and everyone else dumber. Sure, I've been staring at a computer screen for approximately 70 percent of the past 365 days, but fresh air and muscle mass are overrated. If Thoreau was so smart, why didn't he invent blogging, you know? Every time I watch a video of a cat or an early Bad Boy-era music video on YouTube or Tweet a joke about otters instead of thinking constructively about the terrifying future of our democracy or the raging war on women's reproductive rights or anything related to Syria, I am actually advancing humankind by, like, a year, because I am doing it all with a critical eye. So don't forget to thank me when it's 2013, idiots.
Hamilton Nolan: You'll Never Know
If I was smarter than you, I wouldn't tell you. "Sure, you're smarter than me," I'd say, with a faint, barely perceptible smile playing on my lips like the upturned tail of a sea monster dragon emerging from its cave home in the depths of the ocean floor somewhere out in the Pacific for the first time in eons since the days of old, its toothsome teeth gleaming like bright and hungry needles as it contemplates its prey, which is us, mankind, as foretold in the olden scrolls from the time before history when our forefathers battled creatures of this kind, which you thought was a mere olden legend but which turns out to be all too real, like Poseidon's wrath. But the teeth would be under the water because the aforementioned tail is above the water at the time.
Brian Moylan: I Can Read Your Mind
Some people think that intelligence is measured by IQ test, SAT score, EKG measurements or some other arbitrary metric with too many initials. They are wrong. If you're beyond the stupidity of shitting yourself while sitting in your chair, then you're all just about as smart as each other. I, however, am far more intelligent than any of you because I posses the best initials of all: ESP. Yes, if I can read your minds. And what a tale your thoughts will tell. It's like an old time movie, about a ghost from a wishing well. Yes, my special abilities makes me the smartest of all. Oh, so you want to know what you're thinking? OK, fine. "Damn, what the hell is this article? Do they think this is funny? I don't get it. People can't really read minds, can they? Do you think I can eat that yogurt that's in the fridge? No one will notice right? Right. Screw reading the rest of this, I'm going to get that yogurt." See, I told you. I win.
Leah Beckmann: A Test of Wits
The only way to answer this question is with a test of wits: Below you will find a collection of some very relevant and important proverbs and aphorisms. Some are ancient sayings passed from one generation to the next, and some are my own words you should live by. If you can distinguish between the old lore and my own, than you are smarter than I am. The teacher will have become the master. The monkey, the uncle; the pot, a black kettle.
A dog is sometimes more faithful than a child.
A fool goes to the baths and forgets to wash his face.
A pair of shined shoes ought walk further than no shoes at all.
A fool remains a fool.
If you climb too high, you will need help coming down.
Better to lose with a wise man than to win with a fool.
A man should stay alive if only out of curiosity.
A young fish swims, but an old shell turns.
In the day all cows graze; at night they dream.
Max Read: Cool Dog Mowing Lawn
This dog is me. You are still you.