Smart versus unpredictable people: whom do you prefer?

I saw an excellent Ribbonfarm blog post, “Don’t surround yourself with smarter people”.

You should read this post; in fact, you should follow the blog in general, as it is one of the deepest-thinking blogs out there. Furthermore, it is an unpredictable blog. I never know what will be discussed there, but whatever it is, I always find that it is new to me, not something following a standard school of thought or template.

In other words, I follow this blog precisely for the reasons the post advocates learning not only from “smart” people but specifically from unpredictable people:

I am only interested in people as long as they are unpredictable to me. If I can predict what you’ll do or say, I’ll lose interest in you rapidly. If you can keep regularly surprising me in some way, forcing me to actually think in unscripted ways in order to respond, I’ll stay interested.

My experience

This is how I feel about whom I follow online through blogs (RSS) or through Twitter. I’m always looking for something different. People have different reasons for reading what they read, or following whom they follow. Personally, my goal is to better understand the world. Sometimes, this comes from following people who offer useful news and information that I wouldn’t otherwise know. Other times, I learn from being offered a perspective that is completely contrary to or foreign to mine; in fact, I have changed my mind about a lot of things through deliberately following people who make me uncomfortable.

If I can predict everything you might say, or you can predict everything I might say, then there seems not much point in communicating; we might as well just fire up computer programs to spit out “virtual” conversations that add no new information. So I like to hear about your weird ideas, or stuff that goes against the dominant scripts of your tribe.

Do you value independence of mind or do you think it is overrated? Why? What sort of balance do you try to achieve?

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