I used to be really smart.
Not just smart, but really smart.
I know this because I just came across the senior thesis I wrote as a linguistics major in college. It was about Abhkaz, a language spoken in the northwest Caucasian mountains and in parts of Turkey. I did not speak Abkhaz, but I worked with a native speaker who worked in a Store 24 near campus. I was analyzing the word for “who” and where it could go in sentences. It seemed to be able to go in places where, according to linguistic theory of the time, it shouldn’t have been able to go; I proposed that the only way to account for the data was to revise linguistic theory to allow for rightward movement. I graduated summa cum laude and my professors wanted me to turn the thesis into an article.
If you like, you can see a small sample of the utterly incomprehensible thesis here, here, and here. At the time, every word was as clear to me as Austrian crystal. Now I can understand “the” and, in some cases, “now,” but the rest might as well be Linear A. Nonetheless, here is proof positive that, though I am now as dumb as a box of bricks, this has not always been the case.
Though the fact that somebody figured out a year later that the word I’d been translating as “who” was actually not a noun but a verb, thereby rendering the entire thesis wrong from start to finish, makes me think that this thesis is perhaps not the best evidence to use in support of that assertion.