Among my most irritating traits — naturally selected, perhaps, by my participation in hack journalism over the years — is conducting intelligence tests in public bars. They would perhaps be more acceptable if I announced them openly, & set each in the format of a pub quiz. But my purpose is seldom to provide entertainment. It is instead, to find out whether it is worth arguing with any given interlocutor, about some topic he has raised. I ask apparently innocent questions, or make leading remarks, in order to establish if he has the fondest idea what he is talking about. For if he doesn’t, & by his manner shows no inclination to learn, there is really no point in arguing.I share this trait, doing my own sub rosa assessments with interlocutors, both in vivo and on-lino, although I rarely frequent bars* and thankfully cannot count journalism among my many sins.
Prudence or intellectual pride?
*I sometimes go for a drink in a bar with B, the parameters of whose quick and curious mind I am well aware of, so no testing is required there.