The Midwit Trap

How to be brilliant and alone.

James Taylor Foreman
7 min readOct 3, 2023

The “midwit” feedback loop makes a lot of sense:

  1. Common sense and intuition are replaced with a more “objective” explanation (which often happens to nicely excuse our character defects).
  2. Despite their emotional cost, we buy and consume those explanations in exchange for a little boost in status (actually, did you know…).
  3. The “normies” (anyone not in the know) push back on our weird ideas, which just affirms that the world is too dumb to understand us and compounds a sense of rejection.
  4. Rinse and repeat until we completely distrust our instincts and the world.

I’m very familiar with this strange feedback loop. It’s the “midwit” trap, which is the inspiration for these funny memes:

A clear example of this thinking is… a lot of Malcolm Gladwell‘s schtick. For example, he opens a segment by saying, “You think people smile when they’re happy? No, no, no. Actually, your intuition is…. wrong.” *theme music plays*

We get a nice dopamine kick for feeling like we know something others don’t (and I’m not immune). Gladwell has…



James Taylor Foreman

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