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Friday, April 09, 2004

Ingredients of a Genius

What's common in Einstein and Edison apart from the starting letter of their names? Einstein was one of the most dull students of his class until he started studying Mathematics after high-school (with support from his father and uncle). Edison was considered a symbol of disgrace by his teacher. But his mother withdrew him from school and taught science to him herself! Both the men were genii and their creations have significantly affected our lives.

Nature has rules and they aren't usually violated. I believe that there are rules that dictate when a genius has to be born! At the least, I have found one thing common in every person who is commonly thought of as a genius: One or both of the gifted child's parents belong to the same field in which he later shows expertise. It's the continuous struggle and interest of the parents which gives the child a good start - a start from where his parents left off!

An individual is based on two things: what he inherits from his parent(s) and how the environment affects him. In terms of being eminent, these correspond to hereditary intelligence and hard work. Also, I believe that if you are interested in some field but couldn't prove to be "eminent" in it, try putting your child into it in very early ages. The results would be very promising.

These ideas of mine are based on the biographies of great people that I read during my student years. However, recently, I was surprised to learn that Francis Galton did an extensive research on similar lines and published his work as Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into Its Laws and Consequences in 1869. He studied men from various fields of life: men who are born leaders, great warriors, eminent scientists, gifted poets, etc. He, then, checks the family tree of these eminent people to discover parents/ siblings in the same field - in a very thorough manner as compared to what I did.

Quite interestingly, though Darwinish it may sound, Galton states that particularly in order to be a successful person in science, you need to have an able mother and I agree. Ofcourse, there is a margin of error in everything and that's where probability kicks in!

This post was written several years ago; it must be read in conjunction with a review of Outliers.

Why? Because I believe something you do not? No! I stand here without fear because I remember. I remember that I am here not because of the path that lies before me, but because of the path that lies behind me!
(Morpheus: The Matrix Reloaded)