As I get older, I find that I care less and less about my appearance.

I still groom, bathe, and do laundry regularly, of course, because I don’t want to purposely look or smell haggardly. However, there are times when I realize that I haven’t combed my hair in a couple days or more, I’m wearing a shirt or sweatshirt with a food stain down the front that I failed to notice, or I look at pictures from 10 years ago and realize I’m still wearing some of the same clothes.

These issues certainly don’t rise to the level of being problematic or impacting my day-to-day life, but I’ve noticed an astute change in paying attention to or even caring how I look when I leave the house. I’ve been working from home for several years, so I typically don’t have to dress business casual like I did when I worked in Minneapolis or St. Paul. This has probably contributed to me de-emphasizing the time and diligence I give to my appearance.

That’s why I found it reassuring when I came across an article that claimed stained clothes could be a sign of a high level of intelligence. While some stains are undoubtedly the sole result of clumsiness, the article on Goodfulness.com maintains that intelligent people are thinking about many things while they eat, so they’re likely to spill.

The argument is that when people eat, they’re typically focused on getting the food or drink into their mouths. Their brains are continually calculating the weight of the item, the angle into the mouth, and other factors. Some people don’t have this focus because their brains are occupied with myriad competing thoughts, which is a sign of intelligence.

“The more unorganized your brain is, the more intelligent you are,” according to the person who wrote the article.

Psychologists call this lack of focus “chronic disorganization” and also say that people with this condition generally have higher intelligence and are more creative. It’s worth noting, however, that there are many supposed signs of high intelligence, even in reputable publications and websites. Signs include being empathetic, enjoying being alone, owning a pet, and worrying.

Other experts point to staying up late and swearing as signs of high intelligence. I find the latter point interesting because there is, or was, a belief that swearing was a sign of low intelligence because these people were thought to have a limited vocabulary and used curse words to express themselves. A study from a few years ago found that people with large vocabularies swore a lot and were more gifted at coming up with curse words than others.

Some signs of high intelligence, like being messy, have scientific research to back up the claim. Many other supposed signs, like a person’s weight, height, how much they talk, their religious beliefs, and recreation drug use, make me a little skeptical. Part of the reason for that skepticism is because almost anyone can claim to have an attribute that’s a sign of intelligence, yet we meet so few people on a daily basis who are actually highly intelligent.

Brett Martin is a columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.

Brett Martin is a columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.

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