Monday, 12 May 2014

"All" modern geniuses will probably be oddballs


Due to the 150-200 year decline in general intelligence, there are not many potential geniuses born nowadays (not many in total, and only as in a tiny percentage of births) - furthermore, six to eight generations of accumulated deleterious genetic mutations (due to extremely low infant and child mortality rates) mean that almost-all modern geniuses will be oddballs: difficult personalities, significantly crazy, stubborn, aggressive, disobedient; socially maladaptive due to lacking in careerism, networking-abilities and constantly 'saying - or doing - the wrong thing'.

This seems to be the case from the geniuses and near-geniuses I have known - hardly any of them are/ were good at building their careers or nurturing their success - quite the reverse: either they are utterly obscure and apparently happy to stay that way, or else they are always 'trailing their coats', picking fights and making powerful and influential enemies.

This is another factor in the apparent disappearance of genius - intolerance of eccentricity, and the dominant tendency to write-off as insignificant and incompetent (or even dangerous) those who do not tick all the right boxes - many such people drop out from education early, or fail to get good jobs/ promotions/ publication/ prizes - and consequently have near zero influence.

In such an environment, actual achievement means nothing. Literally nothing.



legodjerk said...

the only fields where modern geniuses still have influence are in places where bureaucracy is minimal and actual competence is valued and obvious to everyone; film-making and sports are two that come to mind.

many of the most highly-acclaimed footballers such as maradona and cruyff do seem to display such 'oddball' characteristics that I imagine would have disqualified them from any field with significant bureaucracy; thankfully, football is still very much a meritocracy.

(pele would represent the 'headboy' of football; efficient, non-flashy, well-behaved, prolific, and absurdly politically correct even after he has retired)

Bruce Charlton said...

Very good point.

Syahidah and Valentine said...

Film-making has quite a few barriers to entry that might not be surmountable by quite a few genius type personalities. To become a film-maker, one has to be able to access funding. This requires the ability to cultivate relationships/make contacts/or be born into an appropriate family. Those outside of these natural niches, will, at very least, endure a period of struggle, whilst they build access, NO MATTER HOW GIFTED THEY ARE. Anyone who has ever worked in the film industry (I have), will have observed these forces at work. Film-making is expensive. If you can't persuade people to back you, even great gift may not be enough to win success. A film-maker of genius needs to be able to "make their way in the world" too. I am sure there are quite a few who lack this duality of skill - and fail.

Daniel Lacroix said...

So glad i found this post. i have been thinking about this a lot lately and have spoken on the subject with friends as well. i believe genius is connected with creativity and imagination - the arts. you and i would see eye to eye on this particular subject. modern culture is quite oppressive to the cultivation of real geniuses. however, i believe that in times like these its important for artists to remain true to their vision and have perseverance in the development of their craft.
Maybe people in your time will not understand you, but in the long run what you create
might have an impact on future generations. just thought i would like to put an optimistic spin on a subject that at the moment seems bleak. peace.