A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creative productivity, universality in genres or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of new advances in a domain of knowledge. Despite the presence of scholars in many subjects throughout history, many geniuses have shown high achievements in only a single kind of activity.
There is no scientifically precise definition of genius, and the question of whether the notion itself has any real meaning has long been a subject of debate, although psychologists are converging on a definition that emphasizes creativity and eminent achievement. Usually, genius is associated with talent, but many authors (for example Cesare Lombroso) systematically distinguish these terms.
In ancient Rome, the genius (plural in Latin genii) was the guiding spirit or tutelary deity of a person, family (gens), or place (genius loci). The noun is related to the Latin verb genui, genitus, "to bring into being, create, produce", as well as to the Greek (ιδιοφυΐα < αρχαία ελληνική ~ idiophiia < ancient Greek) word for birth. Because the achievements of exceptional individuals seemed to indicate the presence of a particularly powerful genius, by the time of Augustus, the word began to acquire its secondary meaning of "inspiration, talent". The term genius acquired its modern sense in the eighteenth century, and is a conflation of two Latin terms: genius, as above, and Ingenium, a related noun referring to our innate dispositions, talents, and inborn nature. Beginning to blend the concepts of the divine and the talented, the Encyclopédie article on genius (génie) describes such a person as "he whose soul is more expansive and struck by the feelings of all others; interested by all that is in nature never to receive an idea unless it evokes a feeling; everything excites him and on which nothing is lost."
The assessment of intelligence was initiated by Francis Galton (1822–1911) and James McKeen Cattell. They had advocated the analysis of reaction time and sensory acuity as measures of "neurophysiological efficiency" and the analysis of sensory acuity as a measure of intelligence.
Galton is regarded as the founder of psychometry. He studied the work of his older half-cousin Charles Darwin about biological evolution. Hypothesizing that eminence is inherited from ancestors, Galton did a study of families of eminent people in Britain, publishing it in 1869 as Hereditary Genius. Galton's ideas were elaborated from the work of two early 19th-century pioneers in statistics: Carl Friedrich Gauss and Adolphe Quetelet. Gauss discovered the normal distribution (bell-shaped curve): given a large number of measurements of the same variable under the same conditions, they vary at random from a most frequent value, the "average", to two least frequent values at maximum differences greater and lower than the most frequent value. Quetelet discovered that the bell-shaped curve applied to social statistics gathered by the French government in the course of its normal processes on large numbers of people passing through the courts and the military. His initial work in criminology led him to observe "the greater the number of individuals observed the more do peculiarities become effaced...". This ideal from which the peculiarities were effaced became "the average man".
Galton was inspired by Quetelet to define the average man as "an entire normal scheme"; that is, if one combines the normal curves of every measurable human characteristic, one will, in theory, perceive a syndrome straddled by "the average man" and flanked by persons that are different. In contrast to Quetelet, Galton's average man was not statistical but was theoretical only. There was no measure of general averageness, only a large number of very specific averages. Setting out to discover a general measure of the average, Galton looked at educational statistics and found bell-curves in test results of all sorts; initially in mathematics grades for the final honors examination and in entrance examination scores for Sandhurst.
Galton's method in Hereditary Genius was to count and assess the eminent relatives of eminent men. He found that the number of eminent relatives was greater with a closer degree of kinship. This work is considered the first example of historiometry, an analytical study of historical human progress. The work is controversial and has been criticized for several reasons. Galton then departed from Gauss in a way that became crucial to the history of the 20th century AD. The bell-shaped curve was not random, he concluded. The differences between the average and the upper end were due to a non-random factor, "natural ability", which he defined as "those qualities of intellect and disposition, which urge and qualify men to perform acts that lead to reputation…a nature which, when left to itself, will, urged by an inherent stimulus, climb the path that leads to eminence." The apparent randomness of the scores was due to the randomness of this natural ability in the population as a whole, in theory.
Criticisms include that Galton's study fails to account for the impact of social status and the associated availability of resources in the form of economic inheritance, meaning that inherited "eminence" or "genius" can be gained through the enriched environment provided by wealthy families. Galton went on to develop the field of eugenics.
Genius is expressed in a variety of forms (e.g., mathematical, literary, musical performance). Persons with genius tend to have strong intuitions about their domains, and they build on these insights with tremendous energy. Carl Rogers, a founder of the Humanistic Approach to Psychology, expands on the idea of a genius trusting his or her intuition in a given field, writing: "El Greco, for example, must have realized as he looked at some of his early work, that 'good artists do not paint like that.' But somehow he trusted his own experiencing of life, the process of himself, sufficiently that he could go on expressing his own unique perceptions. It was as though he could say, 'Good artists don't paint like this, but I paint like this.' Or to move to another field, Ernest Hemingway was surely aware that 'good writers do not write like this.' But fortunately he moved toward being Hemingway, being himself, rather than toward someone else's conception of a good writer."
A number of people commonly regarded as geniuses have been or were diagnosed with mental disorders, for example Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, John Forbes Nash Jr., and Ernest Hemingway.
It has been suggested that there exists a connection between mental illness, in particular schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and genius. Individuals with bipolar disorder and schizotypal personality disorder, the latter of which being more common amongst relatives of schizophrenics, tend to show elevated creativity.
Galton was a pioneer in investigating both eminent human achievement and mental testing. In his book Hereditary Genius, written before the development of IQ testing, he proposed that hereditary influences on eminent achievement are strong, and that eminence is rare in the general population. Lewis Terman chose "'near' genius or genius" as the classification label for the highest classification on his 1916 version of the Stanford-Binet test. By 1926, Terman began publishing about a longitudinal study of California schoolchildren who were referred for IQ testing by their schoolteachers, called Genetic Studies of Genius, which he conducted for the rest of his life. Catherine M. Cox, a colleague of Terman's, wrote a whole book, The Early Mental Traits of 300 Geniuses, published as volume 2 of The Genetic Studies of Genius book series, in which she analyzed biographical data about historic geniuses. Although her estimates of childhood IQ scores of historical figures who never took IQ tests have been criticized on methodological grounds, Cox's study was thorough in finding out what else matters besides IQ in becoming a genius. By the 1937 second revision of the Stanford-Binet test, Terman no longer used the term "genius" as an IQ classification, nor has any subsequent IQ test. In 1939, David Wechsler specifically commented that "we are rather hesitant about calling a person a genius on the basis of a single intelligence test score".
The Terman longitudinal study in California eventually provided historical evidence regarding how genius is related to IQ scores. Many California pupils were recommended for the study by schoolteachers. Two pupils who were tested but rejected for inclusion in the study (because their IQ scores were too low) grew up to be Nobel Prize winners in physics, William Shockley, and Luis Walter Alvarez. Based on the historical findings of the Terman study and on biographical examples such as Richard Feynman, who had an IQ of 125 and went on to win the Nobel Prize in physics and become widely known as a genius, the current view of psychologists and other scholars of genius is that a minimum level of IQ (approximately 125) is necessary for genius but not sufficient, and must be combined with personality characteristics such as drive and persistence, plus the necessary opportunities for talent development.
Some high IQ individuals join a High IQ society. The most famous is Mensa International but others exist including The International High IQ Society, the Prometheus Society, the Triple Nine Society, and Magnus.
Various philosophers have proposed definitions of what genius is and what that implies in the context of their philosophical theories.
In the philosophy of David Hume, the way society perceives genius is similar to the way society perceives the ignorant. Hume states that a person with the characteristics of a genius is looked at as a person disconnected from society, as well as a person who works remotely, at a distance, away from the rest of the world.
On the other hand, the mere ignorant is still more despised; nor is any thing deemed a surer sign of an illiberal genius in an age and nation where the sciences flourish, than to be entirely destitute of all relish for those noble entertainments. The most perfect character is supposed to lie between those extremes; retaining an equal ability and taste for books, company, and business; preserving in conversation that discernment and delicacy which arise from polite letters; and in business, that probity and accuracy which are the natural result of a just philosophy.
In the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, genius is the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. For Kant, originality was the essential character of genius. This genius is a talent for producing ideas which can be described as non-imitative. Kant's discussion of the characteristics of genius is largely contained within the Critique of Judgment and was well received by the Romantics of the early 19th century. In addition, much of Schopenhauer's theory of genius, particularly regarding talent and freedom from constraint, is directly derived from paragraphs of Part I of Kant's Critique of Judgment.
Genius is a talent for producing something for which no determinate rule can be given, not a predisposition consisting of a skill for something that can be learned by following some rule or other.
In the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, a genius is someone in whom intellect predominates over "will" much more than within the average person. In Schopenhauer's aesthetics, this predominance of the intellect over the will allows the genius to create artistic or academic works that are objects of pure, disinterested contemplation, the chief criterion of the aesthetic experience for Schopenhauer. Their remoteness from mundane concerns means that Schopenhauer's geniuses often display maladaptive traits in more mundane concerns; in Schopenhauer's words, they fall into the mire while gazing at the stars, an allusion to Plato's dialogue Theætetus, in which Socrates tells of Thales (the first philosopher) being ridiculed for falling in such circumstances. As he says in Volume 2 of The World as Will and Representation:
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
In the philosophy of Bertrand Russell, genius entails that an individual possesses unique qualities and talents that make the genius especially valuable to the society in which he or she operates, once given the chance to contribute to society. Russell's philosophy further maintains, however, that it is possible for such geniuses to be crushed in their youth and lost forever when the environment around them is unsympathetic to their potential maladaptive traits. Russell rejected the notion he believed was popular during his lifetime that, "genius will out".
Sources listed in chronological order of publication within each category.
Put into the context of the psychometric movement as a whole, it is clear that the positive extreme of the IQ distribution is not as different from other IQ levels as might have been expected.
Blogger is a blog-publishing service that allows multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries. It was developed by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003. The blogs are hosted by Google and generally accessed from a subdomain of blogspot.com. Blogs can also be served from a custom domain owned by the user (like www.example.com) by using DNS facilities to direct a domain to Google's servers. A user can have up to 100 blogs per account.Up until May 1, 2010, Blogger also allowed users to publish blogs to their own web hosting server, via FTP. All such blogs had to be changed to either use a blogspot.com subdomain, or point their own domain to Google's servers through DNS.Child prodigy
A child prodigy is defined in psychology research literature as a person under the age of ten who produces meaningful output in some domain to the level of an adult expert performer.The term wunderkind (from German: Wunderkind, literally "wonder child") is sometimes used as a synonym for child prodigy, particularly in media accounts. Wunderkind also is used to recognize those who achieve success and acclaim early in their adult careers.Church of the SubGenius
The Church of the SubGenius is a parody religion that satirizes better-known belief systems. It teaches a complex philosophy that focuses on J. R. "Bob" Dobbs, purportedly a salesman from the 1950s, who is revered as a prophet by the Church. SubGenius leaders have developed detailed narratives about Dobbs and his relationship to various gods and conspiracies. Their central deity, Jehovah 1, is accompanied by other gods drawn from ancient myth and popular fiction. SubGenius literature describes a grand conspiracy that seeks to brainwash the world and oppress Dobbs' followers. In its narratives, the Church presents a blend of cultural references in an elaborate remix of the sources.
Ivan Stang, who co-founded the Church of the SubGenius in the 1970s, serves as its leader and publicist. He has imitated actions of other religious leaders, using the tactic of culture jamming in an attempt to undermine better-known faiths. Church leaders instruct their followers to avoid mainstream commercialism and the belief in absolute truths. The group holds that the quality of "Slack" is of utmost importance—it is never clearly defined. The number of followers is unknown, although the Church's message has been welcomed by college students and artists in the United States. The group is often compared to Discordianism. Journalists often consider the Church to be an elaborate joke, but a few academics have defended it as an honest system of deeply held beliefs.Franklin Richards (comics)
Franklin Benjamin Richards is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is usually depicted as a supporting character in Fantastic Four. He's generally portrayed as a child and as a budding super-hero, albeit inexperienced.
Franklin is a mutant beyond Omega-Level with vast reality-manipulating and psionic powers. He is the young son of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four, the older brother of Valeria Richards, and the nephew of Invisible Woman's younger brother, the Human Torch. His parents named him Franklin Benjamin Richards; his middle name is taken from his godfather Benjamin Jacob Grimm, the Thing. Franklin's first name comes from Franklin Storm, his maternal grandfather. He has started using the code name Powerhouse.GZA
Gary Grice (born August 22, 1966), better known by his stage names GZA ( JIZ-ə) and The Genius, is an American rapper and songwriter. A founding member of the hip hop group the Wu-Tang Clan, GZA is the group's "spiritual head", being both the oldest and the first within the group to receive a record deal. He has appeared on his fellow Clan members' solo projects, and has maintained a successful solo career starting with Liquid Swords (1995).
His lyrical style often dismisses typical rap story lines in favor of science and wide-ranging philosophies and has been characterized as "armed with sharp metaphors and a smooth flow". An analysis of GZA's lyrics found that he has the fourth largest vocabulary in popular hip hop music. He teamed up with an education group to promote science education in New York City through hip hop.Genius (U.S. TV series)
Genius is an American anthology period drama television series developed by Noah Pink and Kenneth Biller that premiered on April 25, 2017 on National Geographic.
The first season follows the life of Albert Einstein, from his early years, through his time as a patent clerk, to his later years as a physicist who developed the theory of relativity; the season is based on the 2007 book Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. In April 2017, National Geographic renewed the series for a second season, which follows the life and artistry of Pablo Picasso and aired from April 24 to June 19, 2018. In April 2018, National Geographic renewed the series for a third season, which is set to follow the life of American singer Aretha Franklin and will premiere in early 2020.Genius (mythology)
In Roman religion, the genius (Latin: [ˈɡɛn.jʊs]; plural geniī) is the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Much like a guardian angel, the genius would follow each man from the hour of his birth until the day he died. For women, it was the Juno spirit that would accompany each of them.Genius (website)
Genius (formerly Rap Genius) is an American digital media company. Originally founded in August 2009 by Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory, and Mahbod Moghadam, the site allows users to provide annotations and interpretation of song lyrics, news stories, sources, poetry, and documents.
Originally launched as Rap Genius with a focus on hip-hop music, the company attracted the attention and support of celebrities, and venture capital enabling further growth. The site expanded in 2014 to cover other forms of media, such as pop, literature, R&B, and added an annotation-embedded platform. That same year, an iPhone app was released. To reflect these new goals, the site re-launched as Genius in July 2014. An Android version was released in August 2015, and in 2016 and 2017, the company began producing music-focused original video content and hosting live events and concerts.Genius Bar
The Genius Bar is a tech support station located inside Apple's retail stores, the purpose of which is to provide concierge-style support for customers of Apple products. Ron Johnson, the former Senior Vice President for Retail, has often referred to the Genius Bar as the "heart and soul of our stores". Employees are specially trained and certified at the Genius Bar. Their role is to help customers with Apple hardware and software. All in-store repairs of Apple products are carried out by "Geniuses", formerly known as Mac Geniuses. In September 2009, the Family Room Specialists were folded into the mix to handle iPod and iPhone troubleshooting. After its release in 2010, iPad appointments also fell under the Family Room Specialists. Apple now maintains two Genius Bar queues: Mac and Mobile Device.The Genius Bar was referenced in a short-lived 2012 television advertising campaign with an actor portraying a Genius Bar employee who helped Apple customers in everyday situations. The ads were generally poorly received and were subsequently withdrawn.HowStuffWorks
HowStuffWorks is an American commercial infotainment website founded by professor and author Marshall Brain to provide its target audience an insight into the way many things work. The site uses various media to explain complex concepts, terminology, and mechanisms—including photographs, diagrams, videos, animations, and articles.
The website was acquired by Discovery Communications in 2007, but was sold to different owners in 2014. The site has since expanded out into podcasting, focusing on factual topics. In 2018, the company, which had since been spun-off by System1 under the name Stuff Media, was acquired by iHeartMedia for $55 million.ITunes
iTunes () is a media player, media library, Internet radio broadcaster, and mobile device management application developed by Apple Inc. It was announced on January 9, 2001. It is used to play, download, and organize digital multimedia files, including music and video, on personal computers running the macOS and Windows operating systems. Content must be purchased through the iTunes Store, whereas iTunes is the software letting users manage their purchases.
The original and main focus of iTunes is music, with a library offering organization, collection, and storage of users' music collections. It can be used to rip songs from CDs, as well as play content with the use of dynamic, smart playlists. Options for sound optimizations exist, as well as ways to wirelessly share the iTunes library. In 2005, Apple expanded on the core features with video support, later also adding podcasts, e-books, and a section for managing mobile apps for Apple's iOS operating system, the last of which it discontinued in 2017.
The original iPhone smartphone required iTunes for activation and, until the release of iOS 5 in 2011, iTunes was required for installing software updates for the company's iOS devices. Newer iOS devices rely less on the iTunes software, though it can still be used for backup and restoration of phone contents, as well as for the transfer of files between a computer and individual iOS applications. iTunes has received significant criticism for a bloated user experience, with Apple adopting an all-encompassing feature-set in iTunes rather than sticking to its original music-based purpose.MacArthur Fellows Program
The MacArthur Fellows Program, MacArthur Fellowship, commonly but unofficially known as a "Genius Grant", is a prize awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation typically to between 20 and 30 individuals, working in any field, who have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction" and are citizens or residents of the United States.According to the Foundation's website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential". The current prize is $625,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. This figure was increased from $500,000 in 2013 with the release of a review of the MacArthur Fellows Program. Since 1981, 942 people have been named MacArthur Fellows, ranging in age from 18 to 82. The award has been called "one of the most significant awards that is truly 'no strings attached'".The program allows no applications. Anonymous and confidential nominations are invited by the Foundation and reviewed by an anonymous and confidential selection committee of about a dozen people. The committee reviews all nominees and recommends recipients to the president and board of directors. Most new Fellows first learn of their nomination and award upon receiving a congratulatory phone call. MacArthur Fellow Jim Collins described this experience in an editorial column of The New York Times.Cecilia Conrad is the managing director leading the MacArthur Fellows Program.Mad scientist
Mad scientist (also mad doctor or mad professor) is a caricature of a scientist who is described as "mad" or "insane" owing to a combination of unusual or unsettling personality traits and the unabashedly ambitious, taboo or hubristic nature of their experiments. As a motif in fiction, the mad scientist may be villainous (evil genius) or antagonistic, benign or neutral; may be insane, eccentric, or clumsy; and often works with fictional technology or fails to recognize or value common human objections to attempting to play God. Some may have benevolent or good-spirited intentions, even if their actions are dangerous or questionable, which can make them accidental villains.Polymath
A polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much"; Latin: homo universalis, "universal man") is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas, known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.
In Western Europe, the first work to use polymathy in its title (De Polymathia tractatio: integri operis de studiis veterum) was published in 1603 by Johann von Wower, a Hamburg philosopher.Wower defined polymathy as "knowledge of various matters, drawn from all kinds of studies [...] ranging freely through all the fields of the disciplines, as far as the human mind, with unwearied industry, is able to pursue them". Wower lists erudition, literature, philology, philomathy and polyhistory as synonyms. The related term, polyhistor, is an ancient term with similar meaning.Polymaths include the great thinkers of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment who excelled at several fields in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts. In the Italian Renaissance, the idea of the polymath was expressed by Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) in the statement that "a man can do all things if he will".Embodying a basic tenet of Renaissance humanism that humans are limitless in their capacity for development, the concept led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. This is expressed in the term "Renaissance man", often applied to the gifted people of that age who sought to develop their abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, social and physical.
The term entered the lexicon in the 20th century and has now been applied to great thinkers living before and after the Renaissance.Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known professionally as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred being called "Brother Ray". He was often referred to as "The Genius". Charles started losing his vision at the age of 5, and by 7 he was blind.
He pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic.He contributed to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues, and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, notably with his two Modern Sounds albums. While he was with ABC, Charles became one of the first black musicians to be granted artistic control by a mainstream record company.Charles cited Nat King Cole as a primary influence, but his music was also influenced by Louis Jordan and Charles Brown. He became friends with Quincy Jones. Their friendship lasted until the end of Charles's life. Frank Sinatra called Ray Charles "the only true genius in show business", although Charles downplayed this notion.In 2002, Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and number two on their November 2008 list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". Billy Joel said, "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley".Savant syndrome
Savant syndrome is a condition in which someone with significant mental disabilities demonstrates certain abilities far in excess of average. The skills at which savants excel are generally related to memory. This may include rapid calculation, artistic ability, map making, or musical ability. Usually just one special skill is present.Those with the condition generally have a neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder or have a brain injury. About half of cases are associated with autism and may be known as "autistic savants". While the condition usually becomes apparent in childhood, some cases may develop later in life. It is not recognized as a mental disorder within the DSM-5.The condition is rare. One estimate is that it affects about one in a million people. Cases of female savants are even less common than those of males. The first medical account of the condition was in 1783. Among those with autism between 1 in 10 to 200 have savant syndrome to some degree. It is estimated that there are fewer than a hundred savants with extraordinary skills currently living.Tutelary deity
A tutelary (also tutelar) is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of "tutelary" expresses the concept of safety, and thus of guardianship.
In late late Greek and Roman religion, one type of tutelary deity, the genius, functions as the personal deity or daimon of an individual from birth to death. Another form of personal tutelary spirit is the familiar spirit of European folklore.