Portfolio.com just released a list of their two hundred brainiest cities in America. Having spent some time there, I was unsurprised to find Boulder, Colorado at the top of that list. Having one's home town selected as the smartest spot in the nation certainly does something to one's self-esteem. The effect I experienced was a brief period of pride, then polite chagrin. When I lived in Boulder, I didn't pal around with a lot of rocket scientists. My neighbors were not constructing their own nuclear reactors in their garages. The kids I went to school with had decent verbal skills, but there was no Proust Reading Competitions at lunch time. Though there was some discussion of it, I never knew anyone who actually got their very own Mensa belt buckle.
The truth is, I ran into my share of stupid people in Boulder. To be completely honest, from time to time, I was one of those stupid people in Boulder. Some of the worst decisions of my young life were made inside those city limits. It was there that I built and fired my own Polish cannon, and suffered the mildly unpleasant impact of a tennis ball returning from its point of origin at the speed of its muzzle velocity less a little wind resistance, on my forehead. It was in one of the many scenic parks there that I made the drug and alcohol impacted bad choice of jumping out of a swing and into the night, landing daintily on one leg, then collapsing in a heap as the ligaments in that leg succumbed to the impact.
I was hit by a car in Boulder. Not once, but twice. I had more than my share of youthful misadventures and collisions in motor vehicles that I was driving. I suspect that if you asked my parents if I were some kind of poster boy for the educated mass that is Boulder, Colorado, it would have difficult for them to recommend me on any given day. Yes, I graduated from high school, and received a degree from the University just up the hill, but I don't know how much I actively contributed to the city's overall "brainpower index."
Maybe there's something flawed about the survey. After all, Washington D.C. came in third.