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Author Topic: What happened to all the genius???  (Read 11870 times)

Offline tweener

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What happened to all the genius???
« on: 16/09/2005 02:10:35 »
I've heard that there are about as many people alive today as have ever lived in the whole history of mankind (and not just recorded history - all of it).  Given this fact, we should have living among us just about as many overwhelming geniuses as have ever graced the planet, people like Newton, Galeleio, the guy that invented the wheel, the guy that discovered a campfire, Einstein.  So my question is WHERE ARE THEY????

Locked up in evil corporate cubicles, forced to shovel their ideas into the black hole of the legal department?

Worse yet, shoveling their original ideas into the morass of "peer review" (with the idea of "peer" being grossly overstated)?

I'm just curious.



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Offline qpan

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #1 on: 16/09/2005 16:30:47 »
There probably are lots of "geniuses" as you would call them. However, most of the "simpler" things which can be discovered using basic experiments have already been done - would you class someone who experiments with falling apples nowadays as a genius or an idiot? Nowadays you not only need a good brain and innovation - you've got to be lucky enough to find something to discover!

"I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it."
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Offline Tronix

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #2 on: 16/09/2005 17:22:18 »
Genius is not a function of statistics, at least not population stats. Genius is both the great mental capacity and the use of it. You cant tell a genius genetically and we have no reliable tests on it, which require action anyway. Thusly, peopel choose to be callisfied as geniuses by their genius actions, and the choice seems to be rarely made. There is no shortage of peopel with great mental capacity nor great mysteries to unravel, just a shortage of peopel wishing to do so or believing they can.

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« Last Edit: 16/09/2005 17:23:25 by Tronix »
 

Offline rosy

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #3 on: 16/09/2005 17:45:46 »
I think partly a lot of the stuff waiting to be discovered now depends on having some understanding of the discoveries that went before.
This is not universal in the population as a whole, so...
(1) those without at least some degree of education will find it more difficult to make startling new discoveries
(2) the rest of the population won't necessarily recognise "genius level" discoveries as such because they won't be in a position to understand what's been discovered (and that includes even highly trained people in one field not having the least clue about the genius of a discovery in another field).
Clearly this doesn't apply to all (potential) new discoveries, but it must apply to some.
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #4 on: 16/09/2005 20:10:33 »
They have all joined the Bush and Blair Administration departments :)

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."
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Offline Corbeille

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #5 on: 17/09/2005 19:09:55 »
I must be a genius!

It took me six months to do my latest jigsaw and it said on the box "3 - 5 years"

"They're all animals anyway. All the animals come out at night"
 

Offline neilep

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #6 on: 17/09/2005 19:14:03 »
quote:
Originally posted by Corbeille

I must be a genius!

It took me six months to do my latest jigsaw and it said on the box "3 - 5 years"

"They're all animals anyway. All the animals come out at night"



LOL !!..excellent !!:D

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Offline Simmer

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #7 on: 17/09/2005 19:46:52 »
quote:
Originally posted by rosy

(2) the rest of the population won't necessarily recognise "genius level" discoveries as such because they won't be in a position to understand what's been discovered (and that includes even highly trained people in one field not having the least clue about the genius of a discovery in another field).
Clearly this doesn't apply to all (potential) new discoveries, but it must apply to some.


Interesting point.  

thinks: Could it be that engineers and physicists aren't just failed chemists and in fact I have failed to recognise their genius?  Nah! :D

Another consideration is that genius can be hard to recognise at close range.  Quite a few geniuses (genii?) were not widely recognised in their own time.
 

Offline memasa

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #8 on: 17/09/2005 23:52:00 »
quote:
Another consideration is that genius can be hard to recognise at close range. Quite a few geniuses (genii?) were not widely recognised in their own time.

"Truly I say to you, that not one prophet is acceptable in his fatherland."
« Last Edit: 17/09/2005 23:52:17 by memasa »
 

Offline David Sparkman

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #9 on: 18/09/2005 02:52:23 »
there are two definations of Genius: the first defines it in terms of speed of learning (IQ). There are the two percenters (140+ IQ) and the one percenters (160+ IQ). That is still an awlful lot of geniuses, 10,000 to 20,000 per million population. These people have gained knowledge at 40% to 60% above average speed over their lives.

I prefer a different defination: one who sees the connection between unrelated facts. Columbus looked at the winds and the reports of birds from sailors and deduced a new world. Not everyone can do that, nor can they pursuade others to fund their research to prove the theory. Columbus was a Genius regardless of his IQ. He saw what others missed.

David
 

Offline Simmer

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #10 on: 18/09/2005 12:09:26 »
quote:
Originally posted by David Sparkman


I prefer a different defination: one who sees the connection between unrelated facts.
David



Yes, that sounds like a pretty good definition to me too.  

Interesting if you link that to Rosy's point that specialists may not recognise great ideas outside their own field.  Does this mean that this synthesis of apparently unrelated facts is now more difficult because of the way we teach science?  

Maybe that's the answer to tweener's original question, there really are less geniuses, although there are loads of really clever people who could be geniuses given a broader education :)
 

Offline tweener

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #11 on: 18/09/2005 17:47:32 »
There are some very interesting comments here.  First, I'm not talking about the "standard" definition of a genius in terms of IQ.  I don't think that IQ has much to do with being really clever.  And I'm not necessarily talking about people who can invent things or connect the dots in their field of specialty.  A scientist that I used to work for called that adding a grain of sand to the beach of knowledge.

What I'm really getting at is someone who can connect many seemingly unrelated facts and observations and come up with a revolutionary concept that changes many fields of science.  This change is not necessarily adopted or recognized all at once, but it is comploete and radical when it comes.

The example that I'm probably most familiar with is Isaac Newton.  He didn't just experiment with falling apples (that's very cliche and not historically accurate) but experimented with all sorts of motion.  He ended up inventing a whole new branch of mathematics (calculus) to describe motion and force, provided a framework for calculating forces and motion not only for falling objects, but also for the entire universe.  We still use Newton's equations for everything from artillery to spacecraft and even falling apples.

Another example is Einstein who was able to take several disparate observations that did not quite agree with Newton's equations and invent a completely revolutionary theory of how the universe is stitched together.  The theory of relativity does not invlaidate Newton's equations, it is a better approximation for extremely high velocities and energies.  Newton did not have access to experimental data that would show any flaw in his equations, but his work (and 300 years of further development) laid the foundation for Einstien.

So, in that sense, every great genius relies on those that came before.  Maybe qpan is right that the problems are becoming thorny enough that they are beyond the comprehension of any one human brain - no matter how clever.  Or maybe we are seeing the revolutions every day and just take them for granted because we see them every day.

I don't know, but reading the input from this list in interesting.

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Offline fidocancan

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #12 on: 08/10/2005 15:33:16 »
quote:
Originally posted by tweener

So my question is WHERE ARE THEY????



good question, and as the eternal pessimist says (who am i to disagree?) very interesting posts here.
genius, i tend to think, is a term applied externally to someone who displays something which other people can only wonder at. i mean, einstein was pretty humble. he was just a bod doing his thing. it just happened to be in a mathematically/physics place which pushed the envelope. my impressions is, we all have genius, it just depends on where we choose to exercise it.

and, more usefully, again relating to the ever-wisening tweener, perhaps we are at the verge of comprehending a genius which is beyond any one individual to piece together? that is, discoveries in science or maths, which involves groups of individuals, in AI for example.
or, if we take a positive slant to the genius we apply to our work, our collective genius generating something which none alone can piece together, say the logistical miracle of supermarkets (yup, working at the checkout is a valuable contribution to the running of the entire machine), internet (and sir berners-lee's original invitation).
if we allow ourselves to follow this line of thinking, what would we put our collective genius to in the future?
 

Offline Kerala

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #13 on: 21/10/2005 09:36:25 »
There are plenty of people who have as much brain power as the past geniuses.
But, if yesterday there were 10 living people like that, they were called "geniuses", if today there are 100, they are NOT called genius, imho.
Today, I believe, among the 100 living people with that brain power, only 10 will be called geniuses, because 100 is too much for the "average person" to remember them all.
There are plenty of excellent people who change the world, but you just don't know them!

Just my opinion, of course! ;)

Kerala
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Offline Simmer

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #14 on: 21/10/2005 20:29:33 »
quote:
Originally posted by Kerala

Today, I believe, among the 100 living people with that brain power, only 10 will be called geniuses, because 100 is too much for the "average person" to remember them all.



So you have to be a genius to remember who all the other geniuses are? :D

Reminds of a story in which Sir Arthur Eddington, the astronomer royal, was asked if were true that he was one of only three Britons who really understood Einstein's general relativity.  At which he looked abstacted for a few seconds and then said "Sorry, I was just trying to think who the other two might be!" :D
 

Offline Sandwalker

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #15 on: 25/10/2005 00:20:58 »
Genius - I know I'm no genius, even with an IQ of 140+.

To quote Woody Allan:

I could not join any group that would have me as a member!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #16 on: 26/10/2005 14:22:23 »
My personal view is that there is as high a percentage of people today who have the brain power to be classified as genii. However, because of the population increase and the actual number of such people around, it's much harder for them to stand out from the crowd.
There are "giants" today as there were in the past - Stephen Hawking, Ed Witton, me (heh!) etc - and these are the ones who's high-profile work brings them to the attention of the population at large. Then there are the likes of Simon Baron-Cohen and Paul Nurse whose work, although no less brilliant, does not come into the public domain with such a blaze of publicity.
And don't forget that genius is not limited to academia. There are genii in the arts too.

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.
(Georg Hegel)
« Last Edit: 26/10/2005 14:28:28 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline Danger

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #17 on: 18/11/2005 05:27:01 »
Within the last three hundred years those in power have discovered how to take away mans ability to think and dream.  Prior to this period it was traditional to teach by parable, that which teaches now and also for the rest of your life.

It all has to do with brain synapses and they are usually set by the age of six.   There are ways to bypass the establishment. For one, like myself, I was isolated untill the age of six with no peers and nothing but my mind to dream and imagine.  In China, it is/was traditional to bind babies untill they might be of walking age.  It sounds cruel but with nothing but the mind to work, it seems that it is  worth it.

Today of course, they teach by rote......but not how to think.  As a scientist I am now retired but still teach scientists how to know anything and how to approach it through the science of philosophy, which by the way is not an esoteric but a scientific discipline of "how" to see and understand.

Here is one such discipline: "It is not necessary that all our questions be answered. It is only necessary to understand the question"  This means that understanding is self-taught, self-realized and self-invented.

This is a classroom. Take it seriously/
 

Offline rakarthxii

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #18 on: 18/11/2005 07:29:02 »
I think that there are still some amazing physisists/chemists/even biologists out there - but we have hit a bit of a dull patch in scientfic advances.

It seems the a genius is remembered for what he/she discovers. There could be some of the greatest minds ever in the world today but with nothing to show for it.

Looking back there has always been big gaps between important discoveries. eg - nothing happens for over a thousand years... enter Newton.

Also certain discoveries (particularly advances in medicine) came at a time of war - then a large proportion of scientists all started working on the same thing - hence the advances. The similar thing happened in the 1920s with quantum mechanics.

Lets face it, we have probably been spoiled for scientific progress in recent times. Perhaps all the geniuses of the world are on holiday camp taking a well earned break?

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #19 on: 18/11/2005 16:16:39 »
quote:
"It is not necessary that all our questions be answered. It is only necessary to understand the question"


That is very true. Unfortunately, though, it is often the wrong question that is being asked

 
quote:
Within the last three hundred years those in power have discovered how to take away mans ability to think and dream. Prior to this period it was traditional to teach by parable, that which teaches now and also for the rest of your life.


300yrs? Since about the 6th century religious dogma squashed independent thinking; or, at least, prefented such independent thinking from being broadcast. It took a very brave person to go against the church's teachings on subjects such as the creation, evolution, geocentricism etc. It's only really since the industrial revolution that those shackles have been loosened to any significant extent.
However, even today there are those, especially in the "Bible Belt" in the USA, who take the Bible literally & oppose the teaching of anything that contradicts the so-called word of God.
 

Offline Nano Nano

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What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #20 on: 28/08/2008 03:49:59 »
Ah but there are plenty of people who have as much brain power as the past geniuses. Thousands...

Most are masked by so much technology they are not recognized as todays equivilent. Einstein and Ed Witton are 2 good examples where every one knows Einstein of couse but Ed Witton? Well few know his reputation and that Witton continues to advance to surpass the 300 odd papers/contributions/collaborations written by Einstin.

So geniuses today start and contribute their whole lives without worldwide adulation but are famous in their scientific community. Exponentials make it so that knowing everyone at all times world wide depends on the narrow focus of the media. Otherwise scientists tole away in silence!
 

lyner

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What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #21 on: 28/08/2008 09:13:34 »
rackarthx11
Quote
but we have hit a bit of a dull patch in scientfic advances.
How can you say that?
Do you not read any Science publications? Do you not understand any of the stuff that has come out in the last, say, five years?
What has happened is that the media have a different set of values these days. The reason is that the public at which the media is aimed has changed its nature; the 'masses' were not as influential as the 'elite' in the past.
The effect is that the state of Jade Goodie's health is more noteworthy than the state of Plastics research. (Yes, an elitist statement but true just the same).
With the possible exception of a few 'media geniuses', whose names we all know, I think that you will find the (many) geniuses who are advancing Science, Culture, Philosophy and the rest are quite happy to be 'getting on with it' and not to be in the public eye with all the associated cost.
It's a Big Pond, these days, and the visible fish have to be even bigger. But that's not the state of Science.
 

Offline rhade

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What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #22 on: 28/08/2008 13:14:40 »
Sophiecentaur is right to say that the media is easily distracted by the state of Jade Goodie's wallet, sorry, health. However, assuming that everyone here, by virtue of the nature of this wonderful website, has a pretty good idea, in a broad sense, of what is going on in science. I am wondering if the eternal pessimist is just jaded by the huge amount of new scientific developments that are taking place every day. Maybe scientific advancement has become so commonplace that we just take it for granted, and as we have become jaded, we look for something big enough to shock our jaded senses before we say that it is a major new development.
« Last Edit: 19/09/2008 13:34:39 by rhade »
 

Offline LeeE

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What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #23 on: 29/08/2008 00:12:15 »
Low-profile makes a lot of sense in a world ruled by, well, the likes of the sort of people that are ruling it atm.  It's been a long time since the governments had the best people.
 

lyner

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What happened to all the genius???
« Reply #24 on: 30/08/2008 23:04:14 »
If ever.
 

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