What All Great Geniuses Have in Common

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

It seems to me that almost all the "geniuses" of society came from prestigious schools...

Why is this?? Does this mean that to make a change (such as in theoretical physics) you have to come out of a ridiculously priced school such as Princeton?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Borek
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Any data to support that claim?
 
  • #3
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It seems to me that almost all the "geniuses" of society came from prestigious schools...

Why is this?? Does this mean that to make a change (such as in theoretical physics) you have to come out of a ridiculously priced school such as Princeton?
I think you have it backwards. Many went to prestigious schools because they were exceptional.
 
  • #4
Choppy
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Or do the schools themselves become prestigious because people of genius attended them?
 
  • #5
eri
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People with a great deal of potential often make that apparent early in life, and thus are accepted to top schools. Going to a top school doesn't make you a genius, but being one makes you more likely to get in.
 
  • #6
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So it seems to me we've got an exemplary case of ye olde mistaking correlation for causation here, eh? :smile:
 
  • #7
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You guys misunderstood, I mean to actually make an impact (such as the geniuses of the past centuries) you have to go to a prestigious school?

I also said that it SEEMS to me that the people that have made an impact were also from prestigious schools. So I made no specific claim @Borek.

But what if you can't afford one?
 
  • #8
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But what if you can't afford one?
If you're a genius they will be begging you to attend for free.
 
  • #9
Vanadium 50
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You guys misunderstood, I mean to actually make an impact (such as the geniuses of the past centuries) you have to go to a prestigious school?
Then we're back to Borek's question - what evidence do you have for this claim?
 
  • #10
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Einstein didn't go to a very prestigious school..maybe it is considered prestigious in Germany, I don't know, but you seem to be referring to the top schools in the world/Ivy's.
 
  • #11
Pengwuino
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If you're a genius they will be begging you to attend for free.
+1. The best universities want the best students and have the money to bring in the best students. The not so best universities can't bring in the best students so they don't tend to produce the best scientists. It all comes down to the student, though. The atmosphere helps but in the end, a crumby student going to Caltech isn't going to stop being a crumby student JUST because they're at Caltech (if hypothetically a crumby student got in). A great student isn't going to stop being a great student just because they went to Big State University either.

In the end you are what you make of yourself. Hell, I don't even know where most of the big names of physics got their degree from.
 
  • #12
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You guys misunderstood, I mean to actually make an impact (such as the geniuses of the past centuries) you have to go to a prestigious school?

I also said that it SEEMS to me that the people that have made an impact were also from prestigious schools. So I made no specific claim @Borek.

But what if you can't afford one?
You are lucky for the best you can do is do is to spend a lot of time with physics. And time is in fact more expensive for the rich than for the poor.Of course you have to spend your time wisely, but here your lower rank school can help you. The bad news is of course that spending a lot of time on a subject to become the best is easier said than done and there are no guarantees But even if you don't become the best you will learn more and get a better job.
 
  • #13
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It seems to me that almost all the "geniuses" of society came from prestigious schools...
Interested in why you think this is the case.

Why is this?? Does this mean that to make a change (such as in theoretical physics) you have to come out of a ridiculously priced school such as Princeton?
Well it's interesting to look at this historically. If you look at the big names in physics a lot of them came from Princeton, Harvard, or MIT. But if you look more closely, you'll find that

1) they ended up in Princeton, Harvard, or MIT, because they didn't have a choice. If you go back to 1935, you'll find that most of the physics departments that exist now, didn't exist then, and

2) Princeton, Harvard, or MIT weren't considered particularly good universities. If you go back to 1930, then the best universities in the world were German, but World War II took care of that. Once you had smart people in one place, then they became prestigious. But prestige tends to have a corrosive impact on an institution.
 
  • #14
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But what if you can't afford one?
Then you are sunk. Which is why it's a good thing if societies make education affordable.
 
  • #15
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in a strange sort of analogy, I would feel simply honored to serve as a soldier amongst those geniuses, such that i am a soldier with his general.

though i am just a soldier, it is far more dutiful than an average citizen
 
  • #16
cristo
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Einstein didn't go to a very prestigious school..maybe it is considered prestigious in Germany, I don't know, but you seem to be referring to the top schools in the world/Ivy's.
Didn't Einstein go to ETH Zurich?

Also the term 'Ivy League' did not exist until at least after the war so it doesn't make much sense to talk about the world's best universities in the late 19th century in those terms.
 
  • #17
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I don't think it makes much difference what school you go to if you're passionate about what you do and you do some basic research into a school's strengths before you attend. A degree from a prestigious university is great for your reputation and it does increase your chances of landing a big job, but it doesn't really say much for your level of intelligence.

Work hard and impress the right people at any university, and I can almost guarantee you'll be able to do what you want.
 
  • #18
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If you cannot afford one you probably become one of the many "quiet geniuses" that you probably encounter everyday and do not even realize is a genius.
 
  • #19
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A degree from a prestigious university is great for your reputation and it does increase your chances of landing a big job, but it doesn't really say much for your level of intelligence.
But intelligence is not everything. If Albert Einstein grew up in the Sahara Desert in 1300, the fact that he was gifted at math would not amount to anything.

Work hard and impress the right people at any university, and I can almost guarantee you'll be able to do what you want.
Not true. You can work hard, impress the right people, do everything right, and you still might not get what you want or what you deserve. Life is like that.

One thing that you find if you do talk to people that do admissions is that they often think that's a bad job because they have to turn away lots of qualified people because there just aren't enough spaces, and the further you go in academia, the worse it gets.
 
  • #20
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Probably because the rapid expansion of higher education in the West has meant that the universities that are considered prestigious now were the only universities that existed back then.
 
  • #21
arildno
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Having worked sometime in senior high (16-18 year olds), I have been presented with some statistics made concerning school impact on the learning curve.

Now, the picture seems to be that for schools with pupils of generally high entry grades, the relative importance for their learning curve due to the school's contribution is much less than for pupils entering schools with low grades.

That is, there is a greater variance in input vs output grades on schools with pupils with low grades than on schools with pupils with high grades.

Teachers, and school environment DO matter, particularly for students with average/sub-average skills/motivations.

For highly ambitious/highly skilled students, schools here in Norway, at least, seem to have little effect, positive or negative.
 
  • #22
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You are lucky for the best you can do is do is to spend a lot of time with physics. And time is in fact more expensive for the rich than for the poor.Of course you have to spend your time wisely, but here your lower rank school can help you. The bad news is of course that spending a lot of time on a subject to become the best is easier said than done and there are no guarantees But even if you don't become the best you will learn more and get a better job.
"Time is in fact more expensive for the rich than for the poor"... Wow.. Very insightful, I love that line. Do you mind if I use it from time to time? =D

Interested in why you think this is the case.


Well it's interesting to look at this historically. If you look at the big names in physics a lot of them came from Princeton, Harvard, or MIT. But if you look more closely, you'll find that

1) they ended up in Princeton, Harvard, or MIT, because they didn't have a choice. If you go back to 1935, you'll find that most of the physics departments that exist now, didn't exist then, and

2) Princeton, Harvard, or MIT weren't considered particularly good universities. If you go back to 1930, then the best universities in the world were German, but World War II took care of that. Once you had smart people in one place, then they became prestigious. But prestige tends to have a corrosive impact on an institution.
Wow, so I don't need to go to a ridiculously priced university that I can't go to in order to fulfill my dream.

Then you are sunk. Which is why it's a good thing if societies make education affordable.
I hope that is not the case?

in a strange sort of analogy, I would feel simply honored to serve as a soldier amongst those geniuses, such that i am a soldier with his general.

though i am just a soldier, it is far more dutiful than an average citizen
Didn't Einstein go to ETH Zurich?

Also the term 'Ivy League' did not exist until at least after the war so it doesn't make much sense to talk about the world's best universities in the late 19th century in those terms.
Interesting.. thanks =]

I don't think it makes much difference what school you go to if you're passionate about what you do and you do some basic research into a school's strengths before you attend. A degree from a prestigious university is great for your reputation and it does increase your chances of landing a big job, but it doesn't really say much for your level of intelligence.

Work hard and impress the right people at any university, and I can almost guarantee you'll be able to do what you want.
Wow thanks, you definitely cleared up my question!

But intelligence is not everything. If Albert Einstein grew up in the Sahara Desert in 1300, the fact that he was gifted at math would not amount to anything.

Not true. You can work hard, impress the right people, do everything right, and you still might not get what you want or what you deserve. Life is like that.

One thing that you find if you do talk to people that do admissions is that they often think that's a bad job because they have to turn away lots of qualified people because there just aren't enough spaces, and the further you go in academia, the worse it gets.
Well maybe they aren't doing everything right. If you do "everything" then I reckon there shouldn't be any fault. But who does everything right?

Ideally, making yourself stand out and get noticed among the scientific community in a contributory manner is probably what really counts. That is how Erik Erikson (in pshychology) who was a high school dropout became known as a very big scientific image later on.

Probably because the rapid expansion of higher education in the West has meant that the universities that are considered prestigious now were the only universities that existed back then.
Having worked sometime in senior high (16-18 year olds), I have been presented with some statistics made concerning school impact on the learning curve.

Now, the picture seems to be that for schools with pupils of generally high entry grades, the relative importance for their learning curve due to the school's contribution is much less than for pupils entering schools with low grades.

That is, there is a greater variance in input vs output grades on schools with pupils with low grades than on schools with pupils with high grades.

Teachers, and school environment DO matter, particularly for students with average/sub-average skills/motivations.

For highly ambitious/highly skilled students, schools here in Norway, at least, seem to have little effect, positive or negative.
I think it is the teachers' faults.. Yes I blame it all on them. They teach all their material in a droning manner... I remember my teacher telling me you are made up of cells...But do they really stop and make the students REALLY think and ponder about the complexity of their surroundings?!?!?! Do they stop and make you look at the big picture, connecting all bits and pieces together. Do they stop and think about making it interesting instead of dull and monotonous????

Many teach us mathematical equations and such.. but do they stop and make the students really think about the beautiful INTRICACY of a couple letters/numbers that can EXPLAIN life around them!!!!!

No, they do not; rather, they worry about teaching the curriculum. I was blessed and lucky enough to have a couple teachers that actually carry over the passion to the next generation.. The rest can all ... I'll leave it at that.
 
  • #23
OmCheeto
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Well it's interesting to look at this historically. If you look at the big names in physics a lot of them came from Princeton, Harvard, or MIT. But if you look more closely, you'll find that

1) they ended up in Princeton, Harvard, or MIT, because they didn't have a choice. If you go back to 1935, you'll find that most of the physics departments that exist now, didn't exist then, and

2) Princeton, Harvard, or MIT weren't considered particularly good universities. If you go back to 1930, then the best universities in the world were German, but World War II took care of that. Once you had smart people in one place, then they became prestigious. But prestige tends to have a corrosive impact on an institution.
hmmm....

Didn't you win the best new PF person award last year?

Have you met Char.Limit yet?

:smile:
 
  • #24
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Genius expresses itself in terms of the language and concepts it discovers available to it. Genius surrounded by legos will express itself in lego-creations. Genius surrounded by theologists will express itself in theological language. Genius speaking Latin will express itself in Latin, German in German, English in English. Genius may also express itself in the ability to operate translinguistically. Genius is like a strong electric charge. It will branch out in every possible direction with emphasis on the path of least resistance but not containable by it.
 
  • #25
Pengwuino
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I think it is the teachers' faults.. Yes I blame it all on them. They teach all their material in a droning manner... I remember my teacher telling me you are made up of cells...But do they really stop and make the students REALLY think and ponder about the complexity of their surroundings?!?!?! Do they stop and make you look at the big picture, connecting all bits and pieces together. Do they stop and think about making it interesting instead of dull and monotonous????

Many teach us mathematical equations and such.. but do they stop and make the students really think about the beautiful INTRICACY of a couple letters/numbers that can EXPLAIN life around them!!!!!

No, they do not; rather, they worry about teaching the curriculum. I was blessed and lucky enough to have a couple teachers that actually carry over the passion to the next generation.. The rest can all ... I'll leave it at that.
That's not their job though for the most part. There have been some great discussions about how students are under the misconception that learning is a passive activity, something where the teacher throws information at you and you just need to soak it in and the professor must make it interesting for you. Students need to learn WHY they're learning this, they need to be the ones to ask questions, take the extra step to go beyond the lecture, and become motivated to learn. Let's face it, it's tough finding people with the knowledge to teach subjects at the level of a university. Demanding they do that plus be able to communicate to students why it should be important in a way each and every one of them can absorb is asking too much.

University isn't elementary school. You're there to learn because you want to learn, not because your parents told you to go......... although some people are like that :(
 

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