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Can you identify a genius?


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About James

I have lived a lot of years and the more years I have lived, the fewer answers i have found. I hope that by engaging here we can discover some answers together.


Just what qualifies as genius? It's certainly not Tiger Woods, Paul McCartney or, shock horror, Donald Trump.

In one of his more remarkable tweets, US President Donald Trump announced to the world last weekend that he was a genius. Setting aside his penchant for overstatement, his oft-cited narcissistic tendencies, and his apparent lack of interest in the truth, what is the likelihood of Trump being a genius?

Donald Trump has declared himself a genius.

Donald Trump has declared himself a genius. What do you think? Picture: Shutterstock

I've often had to endure sporting commentary during which an athlete, such as golfer Tiger Woods, has been described as a genius. Many a pop star, including Sir Paul McCartney, have been described the same way. I have heard businessman Steve Jobs, painter Pablo Picasso and even convicted criminal Alan Bond lauded as geniuses, too.

Read more from James St James: He won a Nobel Prize for proving what we know

But what is the likelihood of this being correct? In the case of now-deceased entrepreneur Alan Bond, the criminal who got caught, I would suggest there's no chance. My suspicion in the case of Trump is that he's a fake genius. But what about the others?

First, let's look at what genius is.

According to The Oxford Dictionary, the standard psychological definition of a genius is someone with an IQ of 140. Contrary to popular belief, this is extraordinarily high. Reports in popular publications of people with IQs above 200 and actors with IQs of 160 are absurd. An IQ of 140, against an average of 100, puts a genius in the top one percent of human beings, at least in terms of intelligence.

On this basis, the likelihood of any of those listed above being a genius is incredibly low.

These people may be good at what they do, they may even be exceptional, but it does not put them in the top one percent of human intellectual ability. 

The fact is, the relationship between intelligence and performance is tenuous, at best.

There are many people who have achieved a great deal without being much above average intelligence. Equally, there are many people who have well-above-average intelligence who have achieved next to nothing.

Intelligence is only one of many factors that determine success and is very often not the most important factor. Most high achievers are much  more endowed with EQ (emotional intelligence) that IQ (intelligence quotient).

It is a misuse of the word genius to apply it to those with high talent levels, unless those talents are purely intellectual. And in the case of sport, painting, popular music and business, they are not.

In fact, I estimate that the gentlemen listed above are all closer in IQ to the 100 average than the superior, but not genius, 120.

The misunderstanding of intelligence is matched only by general ignorance about the human brain.

I attended a seminar a year or so ago during which the presenter suggested that human beings only use 10 percent of their brains. While this myth is commonly uttered and perhaps more commonly believed, it is absolute crap! Human beings use 100 percent of their brain. There is no substance in the 10 percent myth.

I have heard it suggested that while most human beings use 10 percent of their brain, Albert Einstein used perhaps 20 or 30 percent, making him more intelligent and capable.

It is almost certain that Einstein was a genius, but he used the same amount of his brain as Donald Trump -- 100 percent. While Einstein’s brain seemed to work a whole lot better than the norm, we all utilise the same amount.

Research, including a dissection of his brain, found that Einstein's intelligence was enhanced by his abnormally large (about 15 percent bigger) creative part of the brain -- hence his capacity to imagine and test what nobody else had ever imagined.

Interesting, ey??

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