By definition, most people are not in the top 1% of intellect, so books aimed primarily at that top 1% are never going to be best sellers. The question arises, what is the most effective strategy for developing a best seller? Thinking of Dan Brown and Malcolm Gladwell, it looks as if simply being a person of modest intellect may be an effective strategy for writers. I’m not saying that it is the only possible strategy, but it may be easier if one never thinks of anything too complicated in the first place, rather than having to weigh the level of difficulty of every sentence and concept. Probably one would have to be a lot smarter than average to effortlessly simulate normality, particularly in real time. It is said that John von Neumann could do this. In much the same way, emulating an obsolete computer is fairly easy – for machines that are a decade more advanced.
This suggests that it is more important to be average than to appear average: when Gladwell talks about ‘igon values’, he’s being sincere. He may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
Of course, there are real advantages to high intelligence. It seems to increase longevity, and it reduces the chance of financial disaster. Maybe the best approach would be a temporary reduction in intelligence – quite practical, since artificial stupidity is a solved problem. I think that many writers already make use of this strategy.
The only downside is the hangover.