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The True Meaning of Genius

  1. Oct 22, 2010 #1
    As this fits into at least four of the six categories in Other Sciences, I thought I'd introduce it here in General Discussions, as it doesn't really fit into any three, much less two, or even one of the categories in Other Sciences, and most certainly doesn't fit into any of the more restrictive categories in any of the other sections.

    What this thread is NOT:

    1. A discussion of IQ

    2. A discussion of any group, whatsoever (I'm not naming names, of which there are many, so you - please don't name names), which requires certain levels of achievement on tests of their own chosing as requisite for membership.

    3. Idiot-savant talent, or other, similar talents associated with various disorders which present themselves beyond the normative human condition. In this respect, we're talking about genius within the normal human realm.

    Definition of "genius" as pertaining to the topic of discussion: It could be the ability to play the piano by ear having heard one rendition thereof, just as it could be the ability to paint either a picture-perfect scene from a photograph, or a reasonably-perfect scene from memory. It might also be the ability to take that 1-in-10,000th photograph which moves both hearts and minds, time after time, even though you're taking such photographs every tenth picture. It might also be an innate ability to recognize and process a wide variety of disparate business information capable of evading numerical analysis, and come up with the right (or mostly right) solution for a corporate entity time after time.

    So, what this is: An opportunity to discuss what aspects of human cognitive function, whether how...

    biology (all neurotransmitters firing as they should)

    chemistry (any environmental enhancements or detractors)

    medical sciences (interrelation between biochem or psych services)

    social sciences (the way we learned or were raised as impacting our ability to perform)

    ...affects what we call "genius."

    Question 1: What, exactly, is genius? Please stay away from mention of IQ tests. Thanks.

    A personal aside: I called an old editor earlier this evening, pitching an article I thought he and his "co-people" might be interested in "fielding" (i.e. paying me to write). I received an interesting response. He said, "how is it that you could break into this rather cutthroat industry when you did, with somewhat minimal credentials in your field of expertise, yet wind up with a string of articles, some of them award-winning, but most of which remain out there in syndicated publication, and a few of which we have to keep online because they've now become mainstay's in our business?"

    Then he blew his stack. He said, "Hell! You don't even know our business!"

    I grew silent, but not for too long (I'm not a young fart), and asked, "Are my syndicated articles earning you more money than you paid me to write them?"

    Thank God I have an honest editor! He said, "Yes..."

    Then I asked, "And has there been anything in those articles to which you, your corporation's technical staff, or any other, have been able to raise any legitimate complaint?"

    Thank God I have an honest editor! He said, "No..."

    Then I asked, "And how much, precisely, have you and X made on what I wrote under contract for you? Is it worth more than ten times, net, what you paid me?"

    (after a few moments): "Yes"

    My response: Then John, I'd say we have a decent business relationship. I'm fully aware of the back office efforts required to turn my words into profits for your concern, but you're aware that, net, I'd like to share the wealth. Given our recession, if you'd like me to write for you, I'll make it worth your while, just 1/10x, to be exact.

    So! I'm now working on royalties, rather than contract.


    "What the heck is this?" You ask?

    Simply - it's a thread for those of us out there to help the rest of you attain the maximum of your potential. We can't supply you jobs, leads, or references. What we can do is to help you understand and navigate the currents involved with advancement, and help you avoid a few pitfalls along the way.

    PM me anytime. I'll not grant direct access or favor. Only resource, and never, ever, any of that of my own.

    But hey, that's just me.


    So what's the true meaning of genius?

    I've seen many example, and many a circumstance. To be honest, I cannot yet define it. I can only recognize it when I see it.

    How about you?

    Again, please keep this away from the groupie stereotypes. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2010 #2


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    Is this a thread about what it means to be a genius or a thread about
  4. Oct 22, 2010 #3
    My mother always used to say "Genius is as genius does."
  5. Oct 22, 2010 #4
    thanks, jimmy that was so helpful
  6. Oct 22, 2010 #5
    Somewhat, with some serious restrictions. Please, the OP covers your concerns.

    Baiting won't fly.

    - mugs
  7. Oct 22, 2010 #6
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  8. Oct 22, 2010 #7
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  9. Oct 22, 2010 #8
    I skim things, and as a result I sometimes miss stuff. Thanks for the correction.
  10. Oct 22, 2010 #9
    here's what http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Christoph_Lichtenberg" [Broken] wrote about it

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  11. Oct 22, 2010 #10


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    So, a sign of genius is practical shoes. I knew it.
  12. Oct 22, 2010 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    My wife says she does a genius.

    Now if I can just figure out who she means.
  13. Oct 23, 2010 #12
    you just said it is not idiot-savant talent, then you go on to say it can be common idiot-savant talents.

    i think that is certainly a big part of it. geniuses defy convention. which is not all that rare. no one would accuse hipsters of being geniuses, i think. but geniuses defy convention and win. and they usually win pretty bigly.

    certain human ailments like manic-depression probably aid the success of actual geniuses. i don't want to suggest that mania is genius, but if you've got the spark, mania just turns it into a raging wildfire. and probably helps in building support in others for your ideas. in general, it just gets things done.
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  14. Oct 30, 2010 #13


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    I humbly offer "who", versus "what" listed in your question above: Richard Feynman one of my favorite people, may he RIP. His curiosity, honesty, mastery of physics (as it existed at the time in the 50's) accomplishments, personality, fun loving nature, and ability to teach and inspire young people, not to mention sharing the Nobel Prize for Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), from which he shunned the limelight and offers that followed subsequent to his award. Similar to Murray Gell Mann (another Nobel winner), young Feynman's curiosity was greatly inspired by his relationship with his father who encouraged him.

    As to the question of what is genius, I could string together a whole list of recognized characteristics that have been said to apply to genius by others, however, I in my opinion, I would still come up short.


    P.S. One of his books that I still have, "Genius, The life and science of Richard Feynman" by James Gleck is the third dog eared sad copy I own, the other two fell apart or were shared multiple times with others. I have read it many times and every once in awhile reread parts of it. :biggrin:
  15. Oct 30, 2010 #14


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    Argh! I've been fan of R.F. since the Nova program "http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/listseason/16.html" [Broken], and I got an autographed copy. Like an idiot, I gave it away as an x-mas present.


    Maybe I should ask for it back? You can do that to your brothers can't you?

    "Say, I was interested in reading that book again, after 17 years, and seeing if it still holds up."

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  16. Oct 30, 2010 #15


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    1. Buy a copy of the book.
    2. Go visit your brother.
    3. Exchange it when he's not looking.
    4. If it ever comes up, just say, "I guess Gleick must have used disappearing ink" and try to keep a straight face.
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  17. Oct 30, 2010 #16


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    observation, creativity, and practicality

    observational powers allow creative insight to be applied to practical considerations in revolutionary ways.


    the insight to notice when a mistake is a discovery
  18. Oct 30, 2010 #17


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    Something along that line. I've been thinking about Einstein for the last 47 years, and wondered about his; "If I were riding on a train at light speed" gedankenwhateverin.

    Along that line, two questions that have always plagued me:

    1. If blue cheese is moldy to begin with, how can you tell when it's gone bad?
    2. If wine turns to vinegar when it goes bad, what does vinegar turn into...?

    We need new genius's to answer these questions.
  19. Oct 30, 2010 #18
    http://members.optushome.com.au/chelmon/vinegar.htm" [Broken]
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  20. Oct 30, 2010 #19


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    Food for Rainbowfishies!

    Thank you Proton Soup.


    One question left.

    Why am I addicted to a pale, moldy, and slightly blue cheese?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  21. Oct 30, 2010 #20


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    It's delicious :biggrin:.
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