Jos Crane

Official website of Jos Crane, author.

I am not very smart. I know this. I took one of those IQ tests online and scored below average. I’ve heard some people say that they’re not very reliable. Even so, testing below average makes it probably worse than it should be. Ignoring an online test for a moment, I keep buying the latest pickup truck. I can’t even afford the loan in the first place. I don’t have anything to haul. But, I keep doing it because I think they’re cool.

I saw an ad on the internet looking for volunteers for a study monitoring some effects of a drug that would increase intelligence. I probably should’ve checked whether or not the ad was legit, but I signed up anyway. I gave them my personal address, work address, social security number, and everything else. In hindsight, it was probably a bad idea. It could still be a scam for all I know. In an email I received, they said I should write journal entries at least once a week. This is my first.

If I had to write about myself, I would say I’m a happy guy. I don’t make a lot of money, but I get by thanks to the grace of Our Lord. He only gives me what I can handle. I know this. I work a lot of hours, but my income is based on each sale I make. We don’t have a lot of customers, so some months my girlfriend and I struggle. I have a lot of friends at church. They’re good people and will sometimes donate money to help us out. I met my girlfriend at church. She’s 21 and has a son named Max. They live with me now after she kicked Max’s dad out of the house. I’m 28 years old and we live in an apartment as a family.

I was asked to go to a hospital just an hour south of where I live. It all seemed legit once I met a doctor at the hospital and they told me what the study was. I signed several pages that I should have read through. From what they told me, this drug was initially created to help Alzheimer’s patients. I think it’s some form of dementia. Anyways, during the trial, they discovered a few people who they thought had Alzheimer’s but didn’t. Their memory improved. Since they weren’t measuring memory in that sense, they needed another study group. I could either be in the control group, where I receive a placebo, or the trial group where I receive the actual drug. Me or the person giving me the medication wouldn’t know which one I get.

Before I could leave, they had me take an online test that they claimed was similar to an IQ test. I had to solve riddles, puzzles, math equations, and reading memory. They won’t tell me what my score was. They said they were setting a baseline for the study. I think that means that I will take many tests to see if my intelligence went up or down from the medications.

When I got home, I started looking on the internet for a book titled “Flowers For Algernon”. The doctor I spoke to mentioned it wouldn’t be anything like what happens in the book. He laughed, but I didn’t get it. It gave me enough of a scare that I had to find it and read it for myself. I normally don’t read books. It sounds like this one I have to read given that I’m participating in a study about memory. It just so happens, that this book seems to be eerily similar from what I can see in the description.

When I talked to my girl about the study, she said she was happy because I got paid a little bit to do it. We could use the money to help pay for some of our groceries. We went out to the diner for dinner to celebrate since it was hard for us to eat out.

I took my first medication today. They kept me in the office for about 20 minutes after just in case I had an adverse side effect, they claimed. I honestly don’t know what that means. I assume it would’ve been bad if I had to stay there longer. They asked me to swallow the pill without tasting it. I did taste it only because they asked me not to. It tasted like wood if I knew what that tasted like. I can make a fairly accurate guess on how wood tastes from its smell, I think.

After I got home, I found the book had arrived. I started and finished it in one sitting, forgetting to eat dinner. I hadn’t cried like that since my dog died a few years ago. I’m not as dumb as Charlie, but I could relate to him going through this study. As I write this, I’m surprised I remembered the character names and could recall the story as well I do. Maybe the medication is working?

I enjoyed the reading the other night so much, that I decided to choose a few bestsellers to read as well. Strange that I hadn’t picked up a book since high school, but maybe I was turned off by being forced to read. Now I found myself enjoying one. I find myself interested in reading more. Instead of watching television like normally in the evenings after work, I’ve been reading one thriller and romance novel. I find myself lost in the pages as time rushes by. If my girl hadn’t yelled at me to eat, I may have never taken a break until I fell asleep.

I need to take medications on Monday and Thursday every week. I’m supervised every visit for 20 minutes. Every other Saturday, I go in to take the intelligence test. Since today is the first “every other” Saturday, I had to go in to take the test. I noticed after a few questions that I remembered some of the questions from the first time I took it. The “baseline” test, if you will. Once I completed it, I brought up to the doctor that I remembered some of the questions from the last test. He asked if I remembered the answers, to which I told him that some of the answers I had last time were different than this time. He asked if it was a good thing. I thought so.

I’ve read two full novels since my last exam, and currently a few chapters on my third. I had another exam today after the doctor mentioned it would have different questions, but similar. Throughout the weeks, I’ve almost entirely eliminated television from my daily activities. Outside of reading novels, I have also found myself attached to reading the latest news on the internet after Max goes to sleep. I think I’m spending more time with him too. Previously, I spent evenings watching one hour of news in between all the other garbage. When I come across science articles now, for instance, I read the study that the news article refers to so I can validate its integrity. I’ve discovered a few websites that accurately portray the study’s contents, while the most popular news media has a tendency to glorify the abstract. For example, one news article I was reading from a popular site – I do not wish to share – claimed that titanium oxide, a common ingredient in deodorant, could cause cancer. However, the study pointed out that they were injecting cells with obscene dosages of titanium oxide that a normal person would never be exposed to. Sure, it could cause cancer if you decide to inject yourself with it like heroin. A lot of fake news out there,

My girlfriend seems to be brainwashed by the stupidity of pop culture. She was telling me that there was some zombie virus going around and that it would be activated at the stroke of midnight on some day in the near future. I asked her how time impacts the cellular structure of viruses, but the reasons went over my head, and gave me a migraine before I told her to stop talking. Was I really attracted to this woman’s intelligence? I must have been dumber than I thought. It never bothered me until recently how young she is with a child. I never questioned it until now. By my calculations, she had her son at 16 years old.

In hindsight, we shouldn’t have celebrated at the diner when I signed up for the study. Why did we spend all the money I earned on a single meal? We could’ve gone to the store and bought steak for multiple days. At least Max got to enjoy it since it was like a special occasion for him. We normally only ate out for birthdays. Speaking of him, I’ve come to realize over time that his mother isn’t that great of a mother. She often ignores him while he’s out playing. She’s so focused on whatever is going on TikTok or the latest celebrity news on TMZ. It bothers me how she’s more interested in other people’s lives than her child.

It’s time to end things with her because our conversations are delving deeper into the depths of idiocy. We no longer have anything similar to talk about, and outside of her God-given beauty, I find nothing else attractive about her. I hope I can take Max with me. He deserves better parenting.

The intelligence tests are getting easier. The questions are similar but phrased differently. The math questions are of equal difficulty, for example, but I find solving them much easier than I had previously. The same is true for each puzzle, riddle, and reading comprehension test.

Dating is hard. After I ended things with my last girlfriend and kicked her out of the house, I tried to use a dating app. Most of the messages I received were typically built on grammatical and spelling mistakes. If I spotted one, I immediately blocked that person and never responded. This has made my dating pool much smaller than I remember in the past. The medicine must be having some kind of impact on me as I find a poorly educated woman unattractive. I had to revise my entire dating profile where I focused on books I enjoy, new movies that I’ve discovered, and even a new sense of music.

It’s been three months since the study started and I find my interests have completely changed over that duration. I enjoy mystery novels the most. I love trying to find the killer through the minimal clues given throughout the book only to be astounded by the end and yelling, “I should have seen that coming!” I never do. Dystopian movies have piqued my interest as well and they make me think about the world from a different perspective. There are a lot of truths hidden in them about the world. Many of us place a veil over our eyes and think of it as this impenetrable fortress of beauty. The reality is that we’re puking all over the world and the societies that conquer it. My taste in music has changed from whatever was on the radio to classical music and jazz. The tempo changes and the differing time signatures have kept my brain more engaged. I’m working with the government on the custody rights of Max, but I’m not sure how it will go since I never married his mother and I’m not his birth father.

I’ve had a few dates with some intelligent women. One was an atheist, which I didn’t know much about before our first date. Another claimed she was agnostic. Both of them had a similar response when I asked about God, and they claimed that there wasn’t enough proof either way to confirm or deny his existence. One difference was the atheist lady argued that if there was a God, how could so much evil still prevail in the world with no punishment? That, and everything in the Bible could be answered through science. The agnostic lady pointed out that there were so many gods since the time of earliest writings, and even now, that she is open to believing any of them was the correct one. Despite my fruitful conversations with these women, our dates didn’t transpire more than twice. Although I was unable to pinpoint a direct cause, I believe their opinions diminished when they found out about my living situation and my career as a salesperson.

The world is turning to shit and we don’t do anything about it. Occurrences of climate disasters are increasing, average weekly temperatures are rising, and so many people either don’t believe it or don’t do anything about it. Our society is on a capitalistic balloon that is waiting to collapse from a single pin needle as billionaires consume the majority of wealth and leave little for the rest of us. The government is run by donations from – guess who – the billionaires as more laws support them than the average person. Anytime one of them gets thrown a lawsuit, they have enough money to push it to the side with minimal impact. Meanwhile, a person selling weed – which wasn’t illegal until the tobacco industry said it should be – can be thrown in jail for years. Stealing millions of dollars from customers, though? A slap on the wrist and be forced to stay at home for a few months.

I’ve left my church. I was disappointed that they kept pinning other people as “the bad guy”, but I’ve come to realize that the blame game doesn’t fix anything. Instead of focusing on the community and fixing the world around us, they ask for money and either say “God will fix it” or point the finger at someone else. I find myself depressed more often now. Every day there is some new piece of information thrown in my direction that makes me realize how fucked we all are. The reality is that I have no power to do anything about it. I just watch the world spiral into fascism while watching it burn. Costs are increasing on everything while layoffs are becoming frequent. CEOs, though, keep getting raises. Groceries are becoming so expensive that I’m hungry almost all the time. My rent and electricity bills are skyrocketing as we reach mid-summer.

I started to study software development at one of those code-focused boot camps. I received a job offer shortly after and got a significant pay raise compared to my sales job. A guaranteed salary. The extra money helps and, as soon as my lease ends, I’ll be moving to a better area once my rental lease is up and try to find a home to purchase. I already sold my pickup truck for an electric vehicle to save on the prices of gas, and of course to do something to help the greenhouse gases while they take a swan dive into a shitcan.

Life isn’t all that bad, but the constant threat of everything going to hell is looming over me like a shadow that grows larger as the sun sets. I’ve gone on a few dates with this nice lady who is extremely intelligent. At times, she can be over-analytical and it can frustrate me, but she’s often right, even if I don’t like it. You can’t ignore the facts. Feelings can be put aside for the opportune information.

Six months into the study, and the exams are excruciatingly simple. I don’t if they’re making it easier to accommodate the volunteers in the study, or if I’m becoming smarter. Some people at work have called me a genius, especially once they learn that I’ve only been coding for months. I would like to give credit to the boot camp I went through. And, maybe the medication too, but I don’t tell them about it.

After the exam today, my doctor asked to speak with me about the trial and its conclusion. He mentioned that volunteers provided them with enough data to publish their research, but their results were surprising and inconclusive. When I asked what he meant, he elaborated that both the control group and the group that received the medication had increased their intelligence. The results were negligible and thus, they couldn’t conclude whether the medication had an impact on intelligence and they needed to review and run another study.

He informed me that I had received the placebo for the entire study. At first, I didn’t believe him. I shook my head saying, “No no, that can’t be true. I am smarter!” He laughed and agreed with me, and that data provided that I was. He asked what changed after I started taking the alleged medications. I told him about Flowers for Algernon, and how it led me down a path to read more books. I told him about how my interests in movies and music changed. He said that it was similar to all the other patients as well. I was one of the few who read that particular book, but other volunteers began reading more too. He thought that one point of discussion in the study is that because most people were informed they could become more intelligent, they took the necessary steps to become intelligent. Intelligence isn’t simply something most people are born with, but something most people are given by seeking information. Another point of discussion he brought up was that reading comprehension improved for all participants in the study, and he wondered if it was because of the reading comprehension tests we took. Since many of us presumably didn’t test our reading comprehension on a daily basis, the exam may have impacted that. Regardless of what transpired that caused me to become more intelligent, I at least get to live with the satisfaction that I am smart now. As for Max? Well, we’re still working with the courts.