I'm more worried about the newly discovered 'stupid virus' than Ebola

We have almost a 50 per cent chance of catching it in the UK – and that’s if we don’t already have it

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The Independent Online

A new virus has been discovered, but rather than giving you a sore throat, it affects a very different part of the body. According to scientists in the US, the algae virus affects the human brain, and can impair our cognitive functions. Forgive me for freaking out, but scientists are basically saying there’s something we can catch that will make us stupid.

The original study looking at the virus tested 90 subjects for it – and 40 tested positive. That’s more common than the common cold (and ironically, it’s probably one of the only tests the subjects will ever pass again).

Just as pesticides creepily manipulate the behaviour of animals, there isn’t much scarier than the thought that, despite your best efforts, your intelligence could remain stagnant for ever.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who’s insecure about their intelligence. In fact, I'm more worried about my mental abilities than the size of my bum (which once set off a public toilet hand drier, might I add.)

Imposter Syndrome, the worry you’re not smart enough and will eventually be exposed as an idiot, is not a fun thing to experience. But I’m glad I have the capacity to worry if I’m stupid, because it means, like a non-psychopath worrying they’re a psychopath, the worrying about it negates the chance I am. But if I catch this virus, I might eventually become so stupid that I’m not capable of even worrying about it anymore.

You might think that a virus without any obvious symptoms sounds like the best of a bad bunch. But this is exactly how the stupidity bubbling away in your now-echoing brain goes undetected. I’d rather have a week-long vomit session – and that’s coming from a raving hypochondriac.

I left university with a bad grade. In the years since, I’ve been on a mission to become as intelligent as I can by reading more, being more inquisitive and learning as much as I can. And in my quest the world has become a lot clearer, problems have become easier to deal with and I can better understand my own behaviour and the behaviour of others.

Now, clever is the best thing someone could call me. A complement about your hair or eyes is nice, of course, but intelligence is often something people have had to work hard at. And I don’t want it to all be for nothing.

Without intelligence, you wouldn’t be able to laugh at certain jokes, feel secretly smug as you walk past misplaced apostrophes on hastily scribbled pub chalkboards, or quietly smile at your colleagues’ hourly idiotic remarks made in earnest.

Note that these are all inward delights. That’s the best thing about being clever: you can walk around in your own bubble where nothing can confuse you. And if it does – you’re clever, you’re curious to understand it and wise enough to retain new information.

Perhaps we should pay less attention to Ebola scaremongering, which is something we’re at a very low risk of catching in the UK, and focus our worry on the virus we have almost a 50 per cent chance of catching – and that’s if we don’t already have it.

Who knew there were so many of us inflicted with something that influences our ability to navigate through our own lives, and possibly even affect our future? It’s like we’re living in a really crap zombie film where half of us are too stupid to realise we’re the zombies.

Let’s hope someone develops a cure for the one virus that can make your life awful, without giving you the benefit of any sick days. Then again, it would be good to have a valid excuse for the times I’ve poured tea down my chin, added sugar to my chips and tripped over air. Wait a second…

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