Would you rather be Oh so smart or Oh so pleasant?

What do you of the straight dope think is the better way to go through life?

You could always get Formula 977

I am very polite and I guess most would say that I am pleasant IRL but I am actually kind of cruel, jaded, and mean under the hood. If you mean genuinely pleasant throughout body and soul, that might be the way to go. I don’t really know what it is like to be a nice, Type B, uncompetitive, always competitive person with good demeanor but I know people like that and they always seem happy and successful at something even if they are dumb as a box of rocks.

Being smart definitely has a huge downside. Being bored by people and finding it hard to find people to relate too can be a bummer. You always feel that you should be doing better and having a somewhat menial job creates cognitive dissonance not only to you but also to the people that know you. The ability to understand the depth and scope of the human condition can reveal some unpleasantness that other people may not think of at all.

Being pleasant as a whole person is probably an easier way to go and more productive than being smart in some ways.

I think this is a false forced choice. I’d rather be smart and pleasant.

It’s true, you can be both. If I had to choose, though, I think I’d go with pleasant. Better life for me, better life for those around me. Mind you… I don’t think I’d want to give up either quality. :cool: (that was predictable, wasn’t it?)

Also, it depends on the alternative. Are we choosing between “Moderate intellect, super nice” and “Genius but regular ol’ personality”, or are we choosing between “Almost too stupid to function, but nice” and “Intelligent but a complete and total jerk”?

Say, if you’re really smart, you learn to fake “pleasant” when you have to.

I haven’t watched Harvey in years; Jimmy Stewart was wonderful.

Pleasant. Hands down. But it’s a much more subjective quality, isn’t it?

If I had to pick just one, definitely put me down for “smart jerk” rather than “pleasant dimwit”. Nice people are so often taken advantage of by the smarter and more jerkish people around them. For me it would be worth the lonelier life of alienating everyone with my abrasive personality to have the smarts to avoid getting into a situation where I was being exploited.

The secret to my success – I’m both. And see no reason to give up either.

Conceded, but what if it was one or the other. *“I have seen people for years come up here nice as could be, we might stop and watch the birds and they always give large tips. But on the way back they are telling you to drive quicker, telling me how to drive and they leave no tip.” * (A rough quote from memory of the cab driver)

Well I am basing my question on Elwood P. Dowd, so I guess I am asking would you rather be like Dowd or smart like the younger Doctor before meeting Elwood. He managed to ignore the advances of the young, smart and very beautiful nurse Kelly.

You have achieved my goal in life. I am closer to smart than pleasant at this point, but I am working on calm and pleasant.


Some of us bear our curmudgeon-badge with pride.

Someone once told me “You can be the smartest person on the planet, but nobody is going to want to be around you if you’re a jerk.” The only exception is those at the very very top, but I image they have to fake being pleasant to get there.

“All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” – Allegedly on the gravestone of WC Fields.

Myself. I’d rather be lucky. See Woody Allen’s “Matchpoint.”

I’ve got that one covered too. :stuck_out_tongue:

Assuming the opposite of “pleasant” isn’t “actively evil”, but merely “hard to get along with”, I’d rather be smart. Too much of my self-respect and self-image is tied up with thinking I am several standard deviations smarter than the average person.

I think the line from Harvey refers to being a “smart-ass”, but back then they couldn’t say “ass” in a family movie.

No, I am pretty sure they meant smart as in hard-working, trying to get ahead, diligent and maybe at least a little cut-throat.

I hope **Eve ** might chime in on this, as it was a classic play before becoming a classic movie.


My mother’s form of child-abuse was to make me think of everyone else as more important than me and to give in at every point to other people. Be pleasant and meek.

After a couple of decades being emotionally hamstrung and unable to stand up for myself, I finally realized I was really kinda smart and I mattered too.

Now I’m kinda pleasant, kinda smart and a whole lot happier.

I’m smart and cranky, and that’s how I like it. [Cretin!]


In the circles I travel, smarts are everything. No one cares about how sweet or kind you are or how many friends you have. If you aren’t intelligent, you’re nothing.

I care about being compassionate and patient, generous and polite. But “pleasant” doesn’t necessarily include these things. You can be cheerful, complimentary, and friendly, but totally lack a sense of fairness and justice. I’ve met people who are loving and kind under all the right circumstances, but quickly turn into mean bitches when things don’t go right. And while some etiqette and decorum is nice, overly polite people come across as phony and dull. I like people who aren’t afraid to show their edginess.

As long as I’m not a raving jerkface, I’d take “smarts” over “well-liked” any day.

If you ask people who know me IRL, they’d tell you I’ve already chosen smart over pleasant.

I relate to what **Shagnasty ** said. I don’t generally have to work at being smart, but often have to work at being pleasant. If the being pleasant came naturally, I might prefer it.