IT Professional

The Fallacy of Genius…

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When I was a kid, my parents, like every other pair on the planet hoped that I would prove to be a genius. I didn’t do my homework, got bored easily, and scored very high on standardized tests. Of course this was supported by well-meaning teachers, projects and programs of all sorts and even friends suspected that I wasn’t just your run of the mill kid. Well, actually I flunked the 8th grade and had to go to summer school and later got kicked out of school and earned my G.E.D. Some genius huh?

Looking back on those days I think that my talent, or extraordinary skill was analysis. I was and have always been an avid reader of history and history in itself lends itself to analysis  for those that take an interest in it. The stories are great, but the true interest lies in comparing the lives of historical figures and events to that of our own lives and times. As a kid I liked to read anything I could get my hands on, so naturally I had a certain body of useful knowledge considering I was a child, and for children almost everything is useful in one way or another.

However, before I came to the above conclusions I was convinced for a long time that there was some dormant genius within me that I only had to unlock. So my love of reading eventually became a love knowledge and its sources. In time these sources proved to me to be the older and experienced of our species and technology as a medium. While searching for the key to my untapped potential (and the untold millions that it MUST hold), I came across the book “The Bell Curve“.

According to Wikipedia, The Bell Curve argues that “intelligence is a better predictor of many personal dynamics”, but what struck me was the statement: “It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences.” A highly controversial book to say the least, and being black I actively searched within my own knowledge-gathering to disprove or at least prove myself the exception to this ‘research’.

Of course, the principle behind the book is not to say that ALL black people (or any people for that matter) ARE this or that, but that they are genetically DISPOSED to higher or lower intelligence. Which is to say that Asians tend to be better mathematicians, Spanish tend to have smaller penises, and so on and so forth. Then I happened upon the saying that ‘all myths (which include stereotypes) are rooted in truth’ or something like that. So, the first thing I did was analyse those that are closest to me. Well, fortunately I grew up on east side of Cleveland (70% black population) and spent more than a few formative years in Phoenix (70% white population). So actually I have some very unscientific observations to go on, limited and subjective it my be, but just hear me out.

Thinking about it, back in Cleveland there were quite a few folks who would be called dumb by society. On the other hand in Phoenix, most of my friends were pretty damn smart, and high achievers whoproved their intelligence. Of course, there is the issue of the schools available and a host of environmental and other natural factors that must be taken into account. So this is where I was for a long time…the evidence that I had to go on pretty much said that black folks for the most part are dumb, and white folks are smart. I never got around to checking out Asians and the Spanish.

So my next step, not being satisfied with that answer was to look at the ROOTS of the issue, namely the characteristics inherent to the races themselves. Black people all come from warm Africa, where the planting and harvesting seasons are longer, where life is easier, where vitamin D is in abundant supply. I contrasted that with white people who come from Europe where the seasons and hours of daylight per year are much less and you not only have to prepare and be diligent to survive and thrive, but Europeans also had to battle with the elements to live. Thats not to say that dealing with large wild animals in Africa are any less of a hindrance to survival, but I thought that this was part of an explanation. The issue is treated meager here, however I think you can understand my point; that Europeans were compelled to ingenuity to survive, while Africans had it easy only having to pick the fruit off the trees. We’ve read that somewhere too…

The next thing I came upon was to look at things that I knew about the races. A very superficial analysis, but you need to know how I came to the conclusion I ultimately came to up to this point. Basically I figured black folks as more emotional, more familiar with each other, warmer in the company of family and athletically gifted. White people seemed to me to be more responsible, to respect the law, the be more fiscally ambitious and to set goals fairly early in life. A few of my friends from back home in Cleveland were either killed or killed themselves. The people I knew in Phoenix were going to college and travelling to Europe and building the foundations for bright futures. There were several exceptions to the rule like a buddy of mine who could play some mean basketball (he’s white), and one one of my cousins is a doctor and my brother is an anesthesiologist. On the whole though, there seemed to be a stark contrast that was obvious. The exceptions however did provide some hope…

Now as for me, I was really just thinking in racial tones. Frankly, my family features a sister who received a Yale scholarship offer, another sister who is graduating broadcasting school in just a few days, a brother who is a true genius, and uncle’s and cousins who are high-achievers by any measure. The thing is I was searching for though, was what would make me out to be a genius. As much listening and reading as I did, it was ultimately only after I did a little traveling that I figured out that was the wrong approach.

When I first came to Germany was when I figured out that I was in fact not a genius. Actually it was a little before, when I met the girl  that got me over here. My ex was a book smart woman who speaks several languages, can recite Nietzsche and the Apostolic Succession and is damn smart. She’s book smart though. Thats clear in her lack of creativity today, but then I thought that she must be a genius. Anyway, when I came here to Germany I found a host of people from all over the world who were very special in one way or another. ALL were high achievers and the real genius out of all of us bunch is a psychopath…which told me a lot.

THEN…there is another woman I know who isn’t your standard high-achiever, but who is highly intelligent if not motivated. One thing I learned about recognized genius is that it has a lot to do with motivation. Those who are motivated tend to do more, while those who are not, do less. This woman is a genius at what she does, however there is no monetary value to it. Or rather, her value is diminished in our society because what she does is not highly valued. Does that make her any less valuable than Stephen Hawking if what she does benefits mankind just as much if not more?

Genius, or intelligence is always considered as something for the elites. Thats why we all want to be geniuses right? Basically it is a question of what our society perceives as value. Einstein and his theory of relativity make him out to be a genius. However, could we not say the same of Jesus if we set aside the religious connotation? Jesus was the first person to state that the way you want to be treated is the way you should treat others. Is that not also of equal if not greater fundamental benefit to humanity than practically anything else? Leonardo di Vinci was definitely a genius, but had we recognized the greatest mother of all time would not her contribution to humanity be exceeded only by Jesus? Her genius as a mother followed by that of the greatest father? Had we recognized those people and the principles and values that they set out for the rest of us, would not the world truly be a better place?

So now what we are talking about is value. In our society, what do we value above all other things is the question. Those who can master those things earliest (in age)  or with the least amount of learning is considered a genius, to put it simply. Some innate talent whereby the undertsanding of a concept is to some person or another as easy as ABC. There is of course also a moral, ethical element to genius, but the overriding ethical element to genius is that it should benefit mankind as a whole.

Seeing as there are around 7 billion people on this planet, and we are ALL unique, doesn’t that mean that we all have something to offer? If we are all unique, that means that we all have at least one characteristic in such measure that no one else on the planet has that same characteristic in the same measure. Now for some that may mean they have negative qualities in overabundant measure. However, I have to believe that for the overwhelming majority that means positive qualities in overabundant measure. If we aren’t looking for them however we cannot find them. If we don’t place a high enough value or have a distorted view of the art of teaching, we cannot realize its true value.  Can you imagine the kind of world we would live in if everyone were able to realize their positive potential?

It’s clear as a society our values are distorted in the worst way. We KILL for money, sex, revenge and a host of things that we view as valuable but that are actually worthless. The reality is if we could ever get to the point where we could arrange and research the things that are truly valuable to people, we might find that everyone would have something to offer…

And discover that we all have something to contribute to the benefit of all mankind.


Written by lionoah

November 16, 2010 at 00:33

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