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Genius: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 24 Feb 2011
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Title: Genius( A Very Short Introduction) <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: AndrewRobinson <>Publisher: OxfordUniversityPress,USA
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* A useful definition of genius is 'demonstration of exceptional creativity, whether inherited or acquired (or both)'. What counts as 'exceptional' is somewhat vague.
* There's not a lot of evidence for inherited talent, and even less for inherited genius.
* Intelligence (IQ) and creativity have a modest correlation up to an IQ of about 120, but not much correlation at IQs above that. Nearly all geniuses have an IQ of at least 120, but much higher IQs are neither a necessary or sufficient condition for genius.
* Highly creative individuals tend to come most commonly from very deprived and challenging childhoods, less commonly from very supportive childhoods, and least commonly from the vast middle ground.
* Solitude, both during childhood and adulthood, tends to play a large role in manifestation of genius.
* Geniuses tend to be substantially self-taught.
* There's modest correlation between 'mental illness' and creativity, but more in the arts than sciences, and especially among poets.
* Creative people tend to have complex and multifaceted personalities which they can manifest and adapt to suit context.
* Long-term commitment to chosen area(s) of interest tends to be a major factor in genius and high achievement in general. Creative breakthroughs are usually preceded by a long and prolific period of effort, perhaps on the order of a decade, rather than simply being 'eureka' experiences.
Though being dedicated to the definition of geniality, the first chapter concludes that this is an extremely difficult concept. Broadly speaking, I would say genius is a superlative of intelligence and/or creativity, but then, as discussed in the book, these two concepts are also difficult to be defined, and the "and/or" also reflects additional complications in defining genius.
Robinson's book then goes on to explore geniality from several relevant points of view, including family, education, intelligence and creativity, madness, complex personalities, arts, science, perspiration, and society. Most of the discussion is founded on scientific research, and many interesting trends are presented and discussed. For instance, a significant percentage of geniuses lost at least of their parents at an early age. Geniuses also tend not to acknowledge any benefit from traditional education. Scientific geniuses would also be more interested in arts than vice-versa. One of the most conclusive hallmarks of geniality is found to be perspiration, and I was surprised to know about the 10 years rule. In other words, genius tend to succeed largely as a consequence of long term determination and perseveration. This ought to be a particularly important lesson given the superficiality and short-term trends in our world. I also found the separation o between science and arts particularly welcomed, for there seem to be some important features in geniality intrinsic to these two cases.
One point that could have been more deeply explored regards the mechanisms through which geniality is recognized. In fact, several geniuses, such as van Gogh and Ramanujan, nearly escaped being totally ignored. In addition, as the book correctly points out, several discoveries are not completely original, in the sense of being presented previously by other people. Given that geniality is related to public awareness, one wonders how many genius have been unrecognized, or did not have a chance to develop as a consequence of being born in the wrong place or at a wrong time. A more in-depth discussion of how relevant works are acknowledged and disseminated would be very timely given the major changes implied by the Internet. In conclusion, I believe Robinson's book provides an extremely good introduction to the all important phenomenon of genius, who after all, are such benefactors of humankind and society. Highly recommended.