Monday 6 August 2012

The invisibility of genius

Sunday, 1 July 2012


The reason for my interest in genius is that modern (post-industrial revolution) society depended (past tense) on creative genius to generate the regular and frequent breakthroughs in key areas that sustain increasing efficiency (productivity).

Yet our culture has seldom been keen to acknowledge its dependence on a small proportion of individuals - mostly very smart creative men with difficult personalities and often significant psychopathologies.


It is likely that almost all significant attainment comes from (crucially depends upon) individuals (not on groups, not on institutions) - but the fact may be disguised because the products of creative genius can so easily be exploited by others: indeed that is their very value.

The breakthroughs made by a matter of some hundreds of men genetically-originating in Western and Central Europe over the past several centuries have affected every person in the whole world.


The exploitation may be so rapid that the name and even the existence of the genius has often been lost to history, or never known.

While it may take a one in ten thousand persons to make a breakthrough; the ability to recognize and use the breakthrough may be much commoner - one in a hundred, even one in ten...

The most striking example is the Romans - whose extraordinary attainments in engineering and administration made theirs one of the great Empires - yet the persons who actually made these breakthroughs are not known, so people have assumed that the Romans had no geniuses, but were simply 'well organized'.

On the contrary, the huge buildings, aqueducts, central heating, roads, military structures etc. were a product of specific individual geniuses whose names are lost or were never known.


This has happened a lot in medicine, where there are only a handful of named geniuses (Pasteur, Harvey, Koch, Fleming etc.). The breakthroughs were so swiftly caught-up and exploited that the names of the geniuses were never known or lost.

For example AIDS as a syndrome or cluster of features representing a new disease was discovered by largely unknown clinicians, and am not sure who made the breakthrough - perhaps Michael Gottleib. Discovering the syndrome was the creative act, but the concept was instantly taken up by Big Science who scooped all the cash and credit and prizes for what was a scientifically-trivial act of identifying the responsible micro-organism.

I have seen this thing happen in small ways and big ways throughout medicine: big breakthroughs which benefit (or at least affect) vast numbers of people are not attached to the identities of creative individuals who made the breakthroughs - from Viagra, apparently discovered by an un-named Welsh general practitioner, to the cure for dandruff   


The lack of rewards, especially financial success, of the actual person who made the creative making major breakthroughs is well documented - and probably inevitable.

But lack of reward or fame did not seem to stop the breakthroughs in the past.

The kind of 'high-Psychoticism' creative genius who makes breakthroughs simply does it, or tries to do it, since motivation comes from within - and precisely not as a consequence of incentives such as money and the approval of others.

He typically cares little for the opinions of others, and works on something which he finds fascinating unless he is actually prevented from doing so.


However, the lack of encouragement and recognition of individual genius does open up the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that the importance of creative genius is denied, and that creative genius is actively suppressed in favour of some other model of attainment.

I think this must be what happened to cause the extraordinarily rapid collapse of genius in Britain (similar things happened elsewhere) from the mid-1960s.

No doubt part of this was the 'dysgenic' decline in average and peak intelligence due to the collapse in fertility of the most intelligent people, which had been building-up since around 1800;

but the collapse in creative genius in Britain from say 1965-1990 was almost complete, too rapid for a genetic explanation - and almost certainly due to that complex of social explanations revealed in the collapse of Christianity and the absolute domination of society by Leftist and progressive ideas.

Medical Hypotheses: UK scientists down-shift to second rate research


The type of men who would have made breakthroughs were actively and more-and-more efficiently excluded from being in a position to do so - by regulations and laws and the media and a hundred other channels.

And since men these amounted to only about a hundredth of a percent of the population - nobody noticed what was going on.

As Steve Moxon described in The Woman Racket, there are evolutionary biological reasons why humans tend to despise men perceived as 'failures' - so once men have been made failures then nobody cares about them either as individuals or a class, indeed low status men become objects of active dislike and are more likely to be exterminated than assisted.

Nobody knows nor cares what happens to those few hundred very intelligent and highly creative (but awkward and impulsive) men which presumably languish, ineffective, near the bottom of modern society - the same kind of people who (some of them) used to change the world.


The significance of this phenomenon of the collapse of creative genius is extraordinary; since it means the end of modernity.

As a society, we (probably) retain sufficient ability to recognize and exploit breakthroughs - but it is a fact that there just aren't enough breakthroughs to keep the system going.

If modernity depends on efficiency outrunning population growth, then modernity has ended - some time ago.

Nothing will be done about this, because it would involve a recognition impossible to the Leftist elite: that everything that materially distinguishes modernity depends on the hundredth of a percent of intelligent, creative, selfish, awkward, semi-crazy men (mostly having their genetic origin in Western and Central Europe).

Indeed, it is probably impossible to organize a society on this basis; and it was almost certainly just luck and neglect that, for a while, passively allowed creative genius to make modernity.