Carl Caves (no one calls him “Carlton”) is the smartest person I know.
My wife laughs when I say that, pointing out that I often describe someone as “the smartest person I know.” She is right. As the Journal’s science writer, I have the privilege of talking to a lot of awfully smart people.
But only a few get the label “smartest person I know.” Caves is one.
They share an important characteristic. In addition to knowing a lot, understanding it deeply and explaining it well, they are especially careful about understanding what they don’t know.