Turns Out ‘The Smartest Man In the World’ Has The Dumbest Opinions (In The World)
Reclusive, self-taught Chris Langan has recently returned to (moderate) fame after giving some very long interviews on his life and work. Langan is known for being the smartest man in America -- even the world -- a title he earned after getting an IQ of around 195 (for reference, Einstein’s IQ is estimated to be around 160, and mine is *insert fart noise here*). Yet Langan’s actually been on the periphery of mainstream pop culture for a while now: He was on 20/20, appeared on an NBC game show, and was even interviewed by a wide-eyed, child-like Spike Jonze. For a quick introduction, his interview with filmmaker Errol Morris is also very interesting, especially if you attend to his creepy suggestions (more on that in a moment).
Now, listen, I get annoyed over the fact this damn circular peg doesn’t fit in the square hole my therapist and her interdisciplinary team keep asking me to put together, so clearly I’m not the best person to judge whether he’s really that smart or not. That being said, he does seem to walk it like he talks it: His life’s work – the just rolling-off-the-tongue Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe -- is an intricate and fascinating model of, well, everything. So, erm, nerd. Also, against his arrogant insistence on its ground-breaking originality, his system of “mathematical metaphysics” rather seems to echo the most traditional ideas of philosophy -- ideas produced just in the last millennia under the guises of self-proving tautologies, all-encompassing systems, or logical distillations of the relation between words and things.
Langan’s system is no Time Cube, is what we’re trying to say.
So why isn’t Langan better known, rocking a high academic position, guiding humanity to its post-capitalist future, or simply helping create circular pegs that do fit square holes? His own explanation -- given less self-victimizing support by Malcolm Gladwell’s also kinda famous discussion of Langan -- is a mixture of bad luck, awful socioeconomic conditions, and bad people skills. Especially bad people skills. This is obvious in the fact Langan simply cannot stop fighting his critics, whether in academia or not, but moreover in his notorious and nearly ubiquitous insistence in blaming others for his bad luck -- for example, those simpletons in their fancy universities that just don’t get how right he is.
Gotta say, this is the sort of insistent attitude that makes us wanna put on our Freud Halloween costume and say “hmmmm …. interesting.” Moreover, you can probably see where we’re going here: Astonishing intelligence + a history of bitterness towards academic bureaucracy and politics + externalized, rationalized hostility fueled by little self-awareness. Uhm, we wonder what sort of absolutely low-IQ thought-processes might be fueled by such a perfect storm of frustrated intellectual ambitions, pent-up resentment, and misplaced anger?
Yeah, plot twist. As detailed here, Langan’s contributions to his online communities are the exact sort of takes we as a humanity already agreed were dumb af. Indeed, not precisely of the sort one would expect from someone ‘smart’: Racist rants, anti-semitic dog whistles, conspiracies everywhere, politics of population control, and even the suggestion that Koko the gorilla was smarter than half the population of Somalia. Yikes, more like the Cognitive-Theoretical Model of Cringe, am I right? I mean gee, who would have thought “the smartest man in the world” would end up sounding like his exact opposite?
This is all very sad because Langan’s fond of ranting against established hierarchies and the economic nonsense around which they organize society (so we can’t have a Green New Deal but Elon “Your Role Is To Defend My 4Chan Humour, You Peasant” Musk is about to become a trillionaire? Neat). Yet his point is rather that these rants are aimed at the fact that established hierarchies don’t have him at the top. Hence why he whines like a good little boomer about lack of individual responsibility or culture wars or affirmative action or "political correctness" or whatever Fox News manufactures to accustom people to dislike egalitarianism. Indeed, it’s truly a shame to see such a smart guy have such blatant blindspots, like when he starts grudge-ranting at the “radical left” without being aware of the baseless, spoonfed, clichés he’s parroting.
Only the kinda people you dislike say “radical left,” Chris -- they say “radical left,” it’s their thing that they say.
In this sense, Langan’s case reminds us of Ted Kaczynski, another smart person that -- if in a certainly more sociopathic manner -- also failed to put 2 + 2 together and realize that the problems he denounced are the product of the very systems making him misplace his criticisms towards *insert fart noise and left-wing boogeymen here*. Seriously, you would think these ‘smart people’ might get a bit sooner the dumb nature of the reactionary clichés they believe -- or in Langan’s case, that the racist, scaremongering fluff he chooses to get angry about is not the fault of fantasized conspiracies or the demands of marginalized groups, but instead just distractions from, you know, the systemic inequalities that made such a smart guy like Langan fall through the cracks in the first place.
Maybe give …
… that …
… a few seconds of thought, Chris, see …
But hey, without getting all defensive and angry, okay? Because that’s the entire reason you allow yourself to entertain ideas you should be repelled by --we just went through this. Also, any advice on my circular peg situation?
Top Image: Fox