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What Makes a Genius? 190

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Eric Barker writes at TheWeek that while high intelligence has its place, a large-scale study of more than three hundred creative high achievers including Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Beethoven, and Rembrandt has found that curiosity, passion, hard work, and persistence bordering on obsession are the hallmarks of genius. 'Successful creative people tend to have two things in abundance, curiosity and drive. They are absolutely fascinated by their subject, and while others may be more brilliant, their sheer desire for accomplishment is the decisive factor,' writes Tom Butler-Bowdon. It's not about formal education. 'The most eminent creators were those who had received a moderate amount of education, equal to about the middle of college. Less education than that — or more — corresponded to reduced eminence for creativity,' says Geoffrey Colvin. Those interested in the 10,000-hour theory of deliberate practice won't be surprised that the vast majority of them are workaholics. 'Sooner or later,' writes V. S. Pritchett, 'the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.' Howard Gardner, who studied geniuses like Picasso, Freud, and Stravinsky, found a similar pattern of analyzing, testing, and feedback used by all of them: 'Creative individuals spend a considerable amount of time reflecting on what they are trying to accomplish, whether or not they are achieving success (and, if not, what they might do differently).' Finally, genius means sacrifice. 'My study reveals that, in one way or another, each of the creators became embedded in some kind of a bargain, deal, or Faustian arrangement, executed as a means of ensuring the preservation of his or her unusual gifts. In general, the creators were so caught up in the pursuit of their work mission that they sacrificed all, especially the possibility of a rounded personal existence,' says Gardner."
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What Makes a Genius?

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  • Re:Total letdown (Score:4, Informative)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @03:09PM (#45999851) Journal

    Did you forget that not only men are reading your site? - A great woman

    Perhaps Pritchett's generalization was intended to apply specifically to men, and this was a trap women were less likely to fall into. I don't know, I haven't read the essay. You also might also be interested in some work by two men working out of Cornell, Mr. Dunning and Mr. Kruger.

  • Re:Total letdown (Score:5, Informative)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @04:03PM (#46000207)

    There is no doubt that women have made many important contributions to science. One may argue this one or that is or isn't a genius, but there is little doubt that science would be poorer without their contribution.

    Madame Wu and the backward universe [doublexscience.org]
    Marie Curie - Biographical [nobelprize.org]

    Ten Historic Female Scientists You Should Know [smithsonianmag.com]
    Pioneering Women in Computing Technology [cmu.edu]
    The 50 Most Important Women in Science [discovermagazine.com]

  • Re:Total letdown (Score:4, Informative)

    by TomGreenhaw ( 929233 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:41AM (#46003323)
    OK, first of all, her work was not with x rays, it was with radioactive elements. Second the radiation wasn't leaked - they willingly and foolishly exposed themselves to it. She was a physicist and chemist - the biological science to understand the dangers had not yet been done. You have to remember her work was done more than a hundred years ago. Radiation was invisible to them and in their day equivalent to magic. The dangers of radiation were poorly understood even many decades after her death. To put her achievements into perspective, it would be like someone today providing a full verifiable explanation of dark matter and dark energy with working practical applications. She laid the foundations of some of the most terrifying (nuclear weapons) and most majestic (voyager spacecraft powered by nuclear energy) achievements man had accomplished in the 20th century.

    She was well educated, even at an early age by her father. This is the critical difference between modern times and the renaissance. Then, women were rarely offered opportunity and education. Now it is available for anybody who wants to do the work. Its obvious that genius has little to do with gender.

    I'm not suggesting that she was the greatest genius of all time, but to say that there are no great women is an insult to her legacy and half the human race.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll