I Collect Smart People

Remember the film Se7en? Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey? Wotta cast.

The scene I’m talking about—which I can’t find on YouTube—is where they find John Doe’s apartment for the first time and begin going through his stuff. They’re reading an entry from his diary. He’s writing about being on a city bus and someone is talking to him about some quotidien, mundane thing or another, and reflexively, he vomits on the guy…from the sheer banality of it all. Well, when that happens, I suggest you find better ways than John Doe to spice up your life—like getting people’s panties all bunched up with a blog post about the cuntosphere, or something.

I endeavor to run my life and write my blog in such a way that banality rarely happens. And for that to happen, a blogger must realize that a blog is a revolving door. Trying to keep everyone around is a sure recipe for dusty stagnation. I much prefer that people leave pissed off because I wrote something crazy or whatever, and not because it’s the same old X ways to X for the Xth fucking post in a row. Plenty of places for that. Go find one. Get comfortable. Above all, never change and always protect your sensitivities from assault at all costs. See if I care.

When I have to be someplace, I locate the smart people soon enough. They’re the ones outside hanging around. The unsociables. The ones with real drinks in their hands, talking about things that really interest them—sneaking and bumming a smoke or two (“don’t let my wife/husband see”). You know. The interesting people.

Yea, you know who I mean. When I’m at any party, that’s where you’ll find me. You’ll never find me—beyond the first 5-10 obligatory minutes—shooting fake smiles, pretending like I give one care in the world about some banal stupid shit someone has to say that’s engineered to make people reciprocate in some manner—even blithely—because that’s what everyone is expected to do.

…Do people do that shit because they believe there’s a heaven, they’re going there, and they won’t have to put up with it anymore? Because that’s the only basis upon which I can understand wasting one’s life tolerating it—especially when there’s always interesting people to engage if you look around.

I get lots and lots of emails every day. I get them from smart people. Rarely are they from the people you’ll find in my comments (though some of them drop me a line now & then too). Commenters are less than 1% of the 7-10,000 returning visitors every week.

Since it’s public, here’s a smart person who understands what I do and why. I’ll not write his name because I don’t want to make him associated beyond his own blog, but here’s where the exchange begins and you can find his credentials easily enough.

Thanks Richard appreciate it. I have been following your blog for years. …

…to my taste commonsense, originality, non-conformity and boldness are in short supply nowadays, especially in academic circles, so your blog is like a breath of fresh air even if don’t agree 100% with every post.

Then there’s a commenter here who has like 2 hard science PhDs or something, did some math and charting work for my book, and hates it when I mention it on the blog because it might influence how others interact with her in comments. Poor thing. :)

The other day I rang her up on the phone to see how she was doing. Told her she needs to come in with a totally new name as a commenter and play dumb, so that she can pounce on stupid shit in comments for fun.

…Exchanged a few emails with “Dr. BG” (Grace) (link removed) from China, yesterday. She told me to get in line to take her out to lunch once she’s back for a visit in July. Then she did her usual fire hydrant delivery of things to think about, test, etc., concerning what might be going on with my milk & kefir intervention vis-a-vis thyroid and adrenal stuff (I REFUSE to use the phrase “adrenal fatigue,” EVER!).

People probably think Sean Abbott & I are on the outs, again. I think I went off on him in comments a while back. Probably. Anyway, no. We surreptitiously exchange emails now, so that nobody gets wise to The Big Plan. Wait for it.

….Hmm, who else? Well, if you think I left you out, it wasn’t intentional.

Oh, wait, here’s one from a couple of days ago.

Screen Shot 2013 03 28 at 3 58 22 PM

So, like, a, this is why I do what I do. I know how smart people think, because I am one. That means it’s easy to block three morons from my Facebook page this morning, for instance.

Understand. Display some inteligence and you have my attention forever. Don’t?

I. Do. Not. Give. A. Single. Fuck. What. Your. Little. Mind. “Thinks.”

Are we clear?

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.


  1. Dan on March 28, 2013 at 19:58

    Blogging feels like a different world now. I used to have Darwins Table (if you even remember) and then gave up because basically the paleo people just ended up fucking me off, and I went super crazy on the diet. But returning to blogging now and it seems it’s a lot about using twitter and facebook too, which never was really needed before. I try to just show foodie picks because with me there is a fine line between eating well and getting obsessed. But I do like your posts Richard, and you inspire me to push my viewpoints a bit more. The paleo community really has transitioned more and more into hippy pseudoscience land, I mean everyday i see people bastardising evolutionary science to push their own belief system. That and this stupid hate of anything modern, I mean I love computers etc, I also like eating well, I’m sure there is a balance somewhere. Anyway I just wonder these days if the blogging market is too super saturated.

    But I digress. I like your blod because you make me think of these things. You might be a bit crazy, but I’ve always liked crazy people. There the ones you don’t have to explain anything too, and the ones who don’t judge.

  2. Marc Theiler on March 28, 2013 at 16:35

    Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios…….preaching to the choir.

    Most-to-nearly-all folks can’t wait to fill up space with small talk, cliches, trite metaphors, blah, blah and more blah – in an almost continuous volume. Yet try and find an individual willing to take pause to indulge in a 5-10 minute authentic, sincere and meaningful exchange.

    At this stage in my life, I have zero time whatsoever for meaningless exchange. I don’t even pretend anymore – take it or leave it. I’d rather “see” folks for there dynamic value and experience – if they are not ready to exchange on that sort of plain – then I move on. Now, I even feel that I am doing a dis-service to my fellow man if I too indulge in the mundane, meaningless exchange.

    The exchange – the market we actively observe is exceptionally disappointing, yet there are times when the gems of light – shine through – from the dark, dim , shady recesses of the land of bullshit.

    Like now…take good care Richard – I am glad you are doing your thing….Give me courage over any one thing – nowadays…..I’ll take courage over a great idea over intelligence over social proof (PhD).

    My question for you – is how in the hell can I get more involvement with my blog? hahaha…I get quite a few visitors, yet NO ONE – has yet to leave a comment!!

  3. Contemplationist on March 28, 2013 at 16:38


    A Mencken quote would be appropriate here about the booboisie.

  4. Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2013 at 17:13

    Couple of things, Mark.

    First of all, turn off comments. Instead, leave a clear way and invitation for people to get their thoughts to you. Comments are never going to be more than 1% of your audience. You need 1000 unique visitors per day to get maybe 10 comments. Turn them off. Don’t let their absence be something that gets you down, or gives people the impression nobody is reading.. I didn’t turn on comments until I’d been at it almost a year and had probably 200 posts.

    The best way to get traffic is to get links. But nobody is going to give you links, so you have to create your own. Find a hand full of semi-popular blogs in your niche that have robust comment sections. Get involved in comments regularly. Don’t drop links to your blog, but have your blog linked from your name. If you are interesting people will check it out. Once you are known and trusted, then every once in a while, drop a link to a post that relates directly to either the post you’re commenting on, or to the comment thread itself if its wavered off topic a bit.

    Give it a shot.

  5. Marc Theiler on March 28, 2013 at 18:06

    You know that is great advice, thanks…very specific and on point. Thank you.

    The variable stunting my blog and its expansion is time. My wife and I run a family law firm in Alaska – and we are so slammed that it’s hard to put into words, working 100 hours a week – plus we got a little guy….

    I LOVE writing and feel like I MUST write. For some reason or another my life experience and bizarro dynamic has given me the luxury of worthwhile “insight”….Without being inappropriately entertained as arrogant, elitist or whatever other comfortable narrative adaption folks enjoy utilizing – I really feel like I have lots to offer the audience….

    Always opportunity costs….I will apply your advice – as I am well networked to those “smart” people you speak of….I am quite fond of them.

  6. Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2013 at 18:43

    Good, Mark. Man, that’s something. 100 hour weeks and you’re worried about blogging?

    Well, that’s sort of what it takes in the long run. Has to be something you can’t not do.

    Another piece of advice. Make sure you put up some posts you kinda hate later.

  7. Leigh on March 28, 2013 at 20:12

    One last post from me, for a while, because I’m starting to annoy my own ass…

    I want to thank you, Mr. Animal. In one of my first comments, I mentioned making bread (gasp!) out of my surplus kefir. Even after a couple years of reading your blog, I mentioned BREAD (double gasp!) The bread addled my brain, I guess.

    Here’s the thing: You didn’t give me any snooty anti-bread, pooh-poohing. You could’ve.

    Ok. Bye.

  8. BroDudeMan on March 28, 2013 at 20:19

    Women shouldn’t do anything, they suck, they’re short and can’t reach things!

  9. Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2013 at 21:29


    Uh, ok?

  10. Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2013 at 21:33

    Hey Dan, damn right I remember Darwin’s Table. I mentioned that in a comment to you a day or so ago. It was a great name for a blog.

    Yea, the whole deal was simpler then. More and more, I simply want to blog whatever the hell strikes my fancy at any moment, people can read it if they like, or not. I’m actually glad not to be participating in or even attending the conferences. That’s when this whole morass of “expectations” began and I’m sure sick of it.

  11. Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2013 at 21:49

    “You didn’t give me any snooty anti-bread, pooh-poohing. You could’ve.”

    Oh, man. I’m slipping.

  12. Tom on March 28, 2013 at 22:40

    Blogging has changed completely. It used to be that “link baiting” was a shocking thing that really got attention because it only happens like once a couple years.

    It’s funny now is that Melissa and Evelyn have blogs that are link baiting 24/7, and no one cares.

  13. marie on March 28, 2013 at 22:43

    Pfft, graduate degrees. If all someone wants is a good argument, it has to stand on it’s own, credentials can’t be allowed to matter.
    Debating, refining, testing/aggressively challenging all kinds of viewpoints….maybe learning something in the process, those are clearly some reasons various people make the time to comment Here.
    Richard, what never ceases to get to me is the staggering variety in your mostly well reasoned posts (yah, even when I don’t agree, that’s usually still true) and then too, occasionally a post can be totally in conflict with some bizarre trend that can crop up in its comment section.
    Sure, those ‘open’ comment sections can get hijacked sometimes by plain old venting and grandstanding…. and vicious bile. There are ups and downs, Naturally, given your minimalist moderation policy.
    For me though, the variety and intense engagement means one-stop shopping, but hell, I sure don’t buy everything in the mall when I go there, so I don’t get what the fuss is about : if someone doesn’t like or isn’t interested in a post or a comment or a commenter, they can ignore them, right? If they don’t like How you argue, they can just ignore and not engage you in an argument.
    It’s not rocket science (merde! that right there could be an argument from Authority…insidious, eh? :)

  14. marie on March 28, 2013 at 23:38

    BroDudeMan, since sucking is doing something, you’ve got a bit of a contradiction there, so…..do you mean they shouldn’t suck anything? Aww hell man, not even things they Can reach?! :)

  15. Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2013 at 23:50

    “It’s funny now is that Melissa and Evelyn have blogs that are link baiting 24/7, and no one cares.”

    You have a point. I’m getting a sense that fewer and fewer people care. I get less emails, less comments on the posts over the last week. It may have reached that sensory overload area where people just turn it off. The Robb Wolf thing pissed me off, obviously, but that’s probably going to soon slide into history as well.

    One thing that’s funny though. Read the comment I put up near the end of my “contosphere” post. Quote from here on Boing Boing from November about me “bullying” here, which is bullshit anyway. But, observe how now she is “bullying” (hate the word, but she picked it) and goading Wolf, Jaminet, and now Sisson. Basically, disassociate from anything to do with Richard or I’m going to keep at this.

    And here’s the funny thing. If she stopped posting about me and others tomorrow, I would never have a reason to ever bring it up again with respect to her. She is absolutely the one driving any “bullying” going on.

  16. Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2013 at 23:55


    Yep, except that it’s “rocket surgery” :)

    We mix metaphors around here, right?

  17. marie on March 29, 2013 at 00:16

    Richard, laf! Pocket rockets have nothing to fear from such dull scalpels ;)

  18. Dan on March 29, 2013 at 07:32

    Well Richard, you inspired me. Not only will you notice that Darwins Table is back, but I think I will speak my mind a bit more:) Thanks for the nudge in the right direction.

  19. Nigel Kinbrum on March 29, 2013 at 09:26

    I believe that there’s a problem with the term “Paleo Diet”. People in positions of influence (scientists, journalists, Big Food) focus on the stone-age/caveman part and ridicule that.

    IMO, the most important part is “Eat real food”, or “Don’t base your diet on manufactured crap-in-a-bag/box/bottle”.

    How does one get the general public to focus on the food part?

  20. Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2013 at 10:21

    “IMO, the most important part is “Eat real food”, or “Don’t base your diet on manufactured crap-in-a-bag/box/bottle”.”

    Unpossible. I agree wholeheartedly with Nigel Kinbrum. I try to make some good portion of my “argument” or justification along those lines. Continuing to identify as “Paleoish” is a practicality. For one, because it’s popular and growing and for two, for people to have someplace to go once they get past the bright eyedness of the caveman reenactment (which, unlike others, especially critics, I recognize as perhaps an essential aspect of the progression many people go through over time).

  21. Christian on March 29, 2013 at 10:34

    I first came here as a fat (and gradually getting fatter), schlub a couple of years ago because of the BoingBoing no soap article. That fatal day (Heh) lead directly to me losing 45 lbs in 3 or 4 months, regaining the sense of smell that I hadn’t had for years, completely eliminating my GERD, and ended with my feeling better than I ever have. I use soap to wash my hands after using the bathroom and before food prep, but I still don’t use shampoo or soap to wash my hair/body and have no issues with dandruff/greasy hair or dry skin.

    I frequently think you are an idiot politically, and I have a genuine distaste for the name-calling and paleo-drama/trauma that occasionally appears. But if I didn’t more-often-than-not find what you write to be interesting and/or informative, then I wouldn’t return, it’s as simple as that.

  22. Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2013 at 12:41

    Hey Christian:

    Great story and it’s good “you don’t sweat the small stuff.” I just used your comment in an email to Mark Frauenfelder that I also published as my latest post.


    Cheers. Glad you benefited. If you get a chance, thank Mark for linking it in the first place.

  23. Christian on March 29, 2013 at 15:42

    Done. Sometimes I don’t like you very much, but I (usually) respect you for being open, honest, and putting it out there for the world to see, warts and all. I think if we met IRL we could have a decent conversation about the things we agree on, and right after that have a spirited argument about the thing we don’t, all the while sharing a bottle of decent libation. It’s what civilized people do.


  24. Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2013 at 16:09

    “I think if we met IRL”

    That’s typically how it goes when I meet people.

  25. Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2013 at 16:42

    “Not only will you notice that Darwins Table is back, but I think I will speak my mind a bit more:)”

    That’s great, Dan. Feel free to drop a link in comments now and then to your relevant posts.

  26. Leo desforges on March 29, 2013 at 19:56

    Ah Se7en. What a fucking awesome movie.
    I love when brad Pitt is calling Spaceys character a nut bag. “He’s a nut bag!”
    Good shit.

    Nice post too. I like this place a lot and enjoy the direction it’s going in. Keep up the great work, Richard.
    If you’re ever in Rhode Island…

  27. Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2013 at 20:58


    NSI at the Navy base, 1981, Newport. Walked to a strip mall sort of place to see Raiders of The Lost Ark when it came out. Took a taxi downtown to see the 1st Superman when it came out.

    Best thing of all? Drinking age was 18 at the time.

    I loved Newport that summer. We used to run the cliff trail at the backside of all the mansions.

  28. Leo desforges on March 29, 2013 at 21:04

    hell yes. I love Newport.

    Providence has turned into a cool fucking town too.

  29. Elenor on March 30, 2013 at 05:07

    Newport was fantastic! Although I’m very sad to learn, a couple decades later, that I should have gone to see the Newport/Templar Tower. Oh well, next life….

    There was a Greek restaurant downtown called Odyssey — they did a Greek-style Italian spaghetti sauce that was the most fantastic food I EVER ate! Every single Saturday we had liberty (the ONLY time we got off base at all! Office Candidate School…. {eye roll}), I went straight there and luxuriated in that meal. (Mike Eades would call it ‘face down in the carbs.’

    (And that 5:30 a.m. formation marching, with the ripple-sounds of the waves, the cry of the gulls, and those navigation buoy bells chiming across the fog…. I think I was the ONLY candidate who LOVED those morning marches!)

  30. Nigel Kinbrum on March 30, 2013 at 07:30

    Richard Nikoley said…
    “Unpossible. I agree wholeheartedly with Nigel Kinbrum.”
    Not unpossible. Just nonprobable. 8)

    Don’t forget THIS about nerds.

  31. […] Care. I told you already, I only deal in love or hate, never indifference. I also told you that I collect smart people. Wanna see how much I don't care about anything else related to blogging? Go take a look at the […]

  32. Natalie Manis on September 23, 2021 at 12:02

    Thanks for the link, good stuff. I would collect smart people too if I could find any. If one more mouth breathing moron accuses me of ignoring science when i am (metaphorically) holding a scientific study in my hand trying to show them how wrong they are, I am going to throw myself off a fucking balcony.

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