How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
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22-09-2011, 10:23 AM
 
How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
Without sparks our world is a dead world without fire, without warmth, without life. The cavemen needed the spark of lightning for his first fire; later the farmer needed the spark of the flint to heat his home and cook his meal. Still later, it was the spark of the match doing the same, in our homes and in the furnaces of our industry. Throughout man's history we needed and depended on the sparks in the minds of our creative geniuses who turned darkness into light, cold into warmth and ignorance into understanding.

This rare and invaluable property of the human mind is the most important and the least understood in our Universe. We know about neurons in the brain and the electrical impulses jumping from one to the other when they fire, but we don't know what turns these sparks into creative human thought. We only see the result and sometimes it is spectacular; but often it is unrecognized for a long time - until the ground is prepared for the spark to start a fire.

The most important element of creative human thought is the ability to look at things out of context. It sounds so simple, but it is the most difficult of human achievements. Most of us learn to accept context through years and years of training from the earliest childhood. We have been told and told by our parents and our teachers and our siblings, peers and leaders that "this is the way the world is" and we ended up taking it for granted: inevitable, immutable, the nature of things. Very few of us managed to hang on to a shred of critical thinking and insist on questions that were consistently dismissed by everyone as childish, naïve, disruptive, even evil.

The second important element is the ability to free-associate ideas. To try unusual combinations of concepts never tried together before is the best way of finding new thoughts, new ways of making things work, of solving unsolvable problems. You need an element of playfulness bordering on the whimsical: to achieve this, you must be able to find delight in play for its own sake. We all remember those moments when hearing about a new and marvelously simple idea, we felt a pang of regret: "why didn't I think of that?" Like the paper clip and the yellow sticky note-pads and the ladder with the extendable legs and countless others.

The third element (without which the other two would languish unrealized) is the courage to be different. We are basically herd animals, with the instinct of cattle grazing together on a meadow. We are so terrified to stand outside the protective circle of our peers that very few of us risk the insecurity, doubt and fear that comes from standing alone. Never mind the scorn, ridicule and resentment that is an automatic reaction of the herd toward their troublemakers.

You need that invaluable quality that very few of us possess: being self-sufficient, knowing who we are, what we think and how we feel, completely independently from, and often in spite of, anyone else around us. Sculpted from a single piece of marble as it were (rather than a patchwork of roles, identities, opinions, attitudes that most of us picked up here and there over a lifetime) these self-sufficient, self-defined creators amongst us are like pieces of art: self-evident, self-consistent, immutable, beyond analysis and most of the time beyond understanding.

The rest of us have our places and roles and they are necessary functions, required to give life to the creative idea. We must understand, appreciate and support it. It needs engineers and organizers and craftsmen to give it shape and substance, but without the spark that started it, the fire would not come forth from the heap of dry leaves and twigs and branches that we gathered: you need the shaman with the lantern that guards and sustains the spark.

And this is the best tribute I can give to the gods for letting me spend the past thirty years of my life in proximity with one of these creative human beings who is my wife and my best friend. Through my experience living with her I understand more about myself and about human existence than I could have, read a whole library on the subject. Love and admiration combined together turned out to be the best teacher in my case.
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22-09-2011, 09:26 PM (This post was last modified: 22-09-2011 09:47 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
I am starting to consider that everyone I have ever met is genius.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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22-09-2011, 09:56 PM
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
I do not like stating this publicly but technically I am a 'genius' by measurable standards and I hate it. My cousin is also a genius but his genius is different from mine, it's always confused me a bit. My gift lies in the ability to think and solve problems, his seems to be a higher mental power that enables him to do anything. He can't problem solve like me but I can't do the physical things that his mind allows him to accomplish (plus some other things).
Personally, I feel this gift is a curse. This gift has led me to a life of withdrawal and seclusion and I see no signs of me coming back.

even the smartest man in the world is an idiot
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22-09-2011, 10:21 PM (This post was last modified: 22-09-2011 10:36 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
(22-09-2011 09:56 PM)dredmal Wrote:  I do not like stating this publicly but technically I am a 'genius' by measurable standards and I hate it. My cousin is also a genius but his genius is different from mine, it's always confused me a bit. My gift lies in the ability to think and solve problems, his seems to be a higher mental power that enables him to do anything. He can't problem solve like me but I can't do the physical things that his mind allows him to accomplish (plus some other things).
Personally, I feel this gift is a curse. This gift has led me to a life of withdrawal and seclusion and I see no signs of me coming back.

I'm trying my best to get over myself and just be somehow useful, anyhow. ... I mean it's almost like an imperative.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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23-09-2011, 12:22 AM
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
Using the standard metrics of what makes a genius, I have known only a handful. Maybe 5 or 6. I have been fortunate enough to be in the company of considerably more near-genius types and as that is where I fit (using the same metrics) I can actually use this company to gain knowledge.

The really smart guys (non gender specific reference) are just too far over my head for me to really understand. Happily, the really really smart guys are good at dumbing stuff down so it fits in my head. Can I get a "Way to go Carl!"

I wish I could run with that crowd. On a somewhat related note, I had a believer tell me he felt sorry for me because I could not experience the majesty of faith. I told him that the real reason he should feel sorry for me is because I am not smart enough to truly understand most of the people who hold my belief system. Not that it would help me in discussions with believers but it would help me feel better about myself.

/rant
Trevor

Keep living your life. It's the only one you have.
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23-09-2011, 01:31 PM
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
Probably just one. A young man whose IQ couldn't be tested, because after 180, the tests fail. He worked nights at the central postal station, hung out with average guys, and was holding on - very tightly, tenuously - with the aid of psychotropic meds available in the late 1960's. Before that, he had dropped out of two university courses by age 19, because of suicidal episodes, and had spent some time on a locked ward; was still a regular outpatient when i knew him.
In fact, i hardly knew him at all. He wasn't prepared to share much of his murky, haunted inner world.

On a happier note, i've known intelligent, insightful, clever, gifted people of several genders and generations who lived quite comfortably in the world. I'm fairly bright myself - and consider that sufficient. It's easier to appreciate genius from a distance.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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25-09-2011, 03:08 PM
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
I work FOR a genius. I really, really think this guy is as close to genius as I have ever met. He created the field in which I work. He invented the stuff I studied in college. And not only is he a scientific and technical genius, but also a business genius, founding a company that is now the top of its field, and then partnering with absolutely amazing people who complemented his skills. And he's a really really nice guy, not the neurotic type at all.

English is not my first language. If you think I am being mean, ask me. It could be just a wording problem.
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27-09-2011, 10:58 PM
 
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
I was reading at least as well as a college freshman (the test maxed out there) in the third grade; because of this I was always put with the smart kids in school, and although I don't know how genius is measured, I doubt I've ever met anyone who qualified. I've known some really smart people, and having known them I don't think I would romanticize intelligence the way you have here. Quite frankly, (and this might be a statement on me) I haven't really gotten along well with the people who pride themselves in their intelligence. I don't think being smart is a virtue, that being intelligent makes you a good person. I don't ask myself every day if I'm a smart person, I ask myself if I'm a good person, because intelligence has very little say in what kind of person you are.

I also think the courage to be different is the most important characteristic you listed. This forum is centred on people who either have or are struggling to find this courage. I, personally, have had to deal with this, growing up an atheist in a small town with more churches than people. In fact, as you stated, this courage is important, not because of any intellectual freedom as the previous two were, but because of the social freedom it brings.

On an unrelated note, I would just like to say you write very well.
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27-09-2011, 11:43 PM (This post was last modified: 28-09-2011 12:11 AM by Mr Woof.)
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
(27-09-2011 10:58 PM)Homunculus Wrote:  I was reading at least as well as a college freshman (the test maxed out there) in the third grade; because of this I was always put with the smart kids in school, and although I don't know how genius is measured, I doubt I've ever met anyone who qualified. I've known some really smart people, and having known them I don't think I would romanticize intelligence the way you have here. Quite frankly, (and this might be a statement on me) I haven't really gotten along well with the people who pride themselves in their intelligence. I don't think being smart is a virtue, that being intelligent makes you a good person. I don't ask myself every day if I'm a smart person, I ask myself if I'm a good person, because intelligence has very little say in what kind of person you are.


I agree, go for the good every time,but its sometimes hard to deal with the nuancing.


I also think the courage to be different is the most important characteristic you listed. This forum is centred on people who either have or are struggling to find this courage. I, personally, have had to deal with this, growing up an atheist in a small town with more churches than people. In fact, as you stated, this courage is important, not because of any intellectual freedom as the previous two were.

As for genius,I was acqainted with a philosophy proffessor here in Australia who was more or less thought to be one. He was very much into epistemology, ontology, phenomenology, and all that sort of stuff and seemed to have the empiricists on toast.


On a sad note he was also heavily involved with an end of world cult run by a medical practitioner, the consequences of which may have led to a mass family tragedy, culminating in his alleged suicide in Israel. I don't know how to insert links
(a sure non genius sign) but his name was Moshe Kroy.


As a student of philosophy of religion I also has a tutor who was a lay preacher, scientologist ,and had spoken with Jesus. My essays became far less atheistic on learning this!
Maybe there is a strong link with these seemingly polarised states...
Plato did say "madness is divine".



On an unrelated note, I would just like to say you write very well.


(22-09-2011 09:56 PM)dredmal Wrote:  I do not like stating this publicly but technically I am a 'genius' by measurable standards and I hate it. My cousin is also a genius but his genius is different from mine, it's always confused me a bit. My gift lies in the ability to think and solve problems, his seems to be a higher mental power that enables him to do anything. He can't problem solve like me but I can't do the physical things that his mind allows him to accomplish (plus some other things).
Personally, I feel this gift is a curse. This gift has led me to a life of withdrawal and seclusion and I see no signs of me coming back.
Sorry to hear of the seclusion relating to your mental abilities.
Are you a member of Mensa?Smile


(25-09-2011 03:08 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  I work FOR a genius. I really, really think this guy is as close to genius as I have ever met. He created the field in which I work. He invented the stuff I studied in college. And not only is he a scientific and technical genius, but also a business genius, founding a company that is now the top of its field, and then partnering with absolutely amazing people who complemented his skills. And he's a really really nice guy, not the neurotic type at all.

Good, I'm glad he's a nice guy. Evil geniuses really worry me!! Wink
(23-09-2011 01:31 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Probably just one. A young man whose IQ couldn't be tested, because after 180, the tests fail. He worked nights at the central postal station, hung out with average guys, and was holding on - very tightly, tenuously - with the aid of psychotropic meds available in the late 1960's. Before that, he had dropped out of two university courses by age 19, because of suicidal episodes, and had spent some time on a locked ward; was still a regular outpatient when i knew him.
In fact, i hardly knew him at all. He wasn't prepared to share much of his murky, haunted inner world.

On a happier note, i've known intelligent, insightful, clever, gifted people of several genders and generations who lived quite comfortably in the world. I'm fairly bright myself - and consider that sufficient. It's easier to appreciate genius from a distance.

[u]Hi Peterkin.Two points; yes it is sad when super bright people have serious social problems.

(2) I.Q. tests may not be all they're cracked up to be. In the sixties Hans Eysenck and the social scientist Jenson were accused of rigging them to disadvantage African Americans.Sad
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28-09-2011, 01:03 PM
RE: How many 'Geniuses' have you known?
Quote:Hi Peterkin.Two points; yes it is sad when super bright people have serious social problems.

Not social problems, in the case i mentioned. Psychological ones. It's more like TMI: the boy was connecting too many dots, understanding too well how things work in the world, at an age too young to process it or defend himself from the inevitable disillusionment. I know this, because i've had to deal with the same stuff, only much more slowly, at a more mature stage of life, so that i was able to devise coping strategies.

Quote: (2) I.Q. tests may not be all they're cracked up to be. In the sixties Hans Eysenck and the social scientist Jenson were accused of rigging them to disadvantage African Americans.

Yes, i'd heard. Also slanted against the poor and non-English-speakers. Not particularly relevant to the case. There have been other tests, though, and they all have two flaws in common: they are compiled by people
1: from a given culture and can't encompass modes of thought or sources of information from another culture, which means that they must rely heavily on math and diagram-sequences, and thus disadvantage subjects with dominant right brain function
2. and more important: who are not as intelligent as the top-end subjects, and therefore can't predict all the answers that more creative or better-informed subject might give. Probably holds true at the low end, as well. This is a problem with all multiple choice tests: easy to grade, but with a certain built-in inaccuracy.

You mostly recognize a genius, not by test scores, but by problem-solving abilities, or an exceptional facility in some area, or speed of skill-acquisition, or multi-faceted approach to tasks.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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