Sounding smart is really easy. Being smart, as far as I can tell, is the result of a hell of a lot of mental discipline.
Sounding smart in a lot of ways boils down to making assertions confidently, even though in reality you may have nothing to back them up with. Consider this sentence: “the Serbian nation fared poorly in World War I because of innate tendencies towards miscegenation”.
Here’s another sentence. “The Serbs lost because they had mixed-race people”.
One of those sentences sounds like it could be plausible to someone who doesn’t know the issue very well or who isn’t paying attention. The other one just sounds like some drunken idiot rambling. But these are the same sentence.
Since obfuscating your what you’re saying isn’t generally a good thing, people who sound smart should be looked at warily unless there’s some proof that they have the underlying intelligence to actually back it up.
But of course in that scenario you should just tell them to speak more succinctly.
That’s the first level of sounding intelligent.
The second level is quantifying everything, or adding clauses that end up making your sentences utterly trivial if reduced to their truth values.
For example, adding “I believe” or “I think” to every sentence where an opinion is asked for makes it technically correct but also cuts out any strength the words could’ve had.
Or sometimes, the phrase “or not” is added for something that has a yes/no answer. That reduces your sentence to the logical statement (True OR False), but it is also absolutely trivial.
And now we see why sounding smart is actually just incredibly annoying, and hopefully will one day be considered overrated.