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The hard-workers do not understand brilliance September 15, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.
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We all often read or hear the use of brilliant, genius, Einstein, and other words and phrases to describe mental abilities. The aim is to describe an uncommon mental ability. Yet, almost all of the times these are used, the speaker or writer gets it very, very wrong. They confuse the successes of diligence, hard work, and persistance as the results of some gifted mental ability. That is using measurements that are not based very much on mental abilities.

Success in school, even in college and grad school, relies more on effort than ability. A student can study hard and through long hours on a regular basis and get high marks throughout, doing well on tests and exams, qualifying for entry, et cetera. Success in that route does take a certain high level of intelligence, what some tests call “bright”. This is a higher IQ that average, yet not in the genius range. Depending on the level of hard work and time spent, people in the top 10 to 20 percent could accomplish this apparent brilliance. Learning and memorization will get you that far in education.

Yet these are not geniuses, Einsteins, or brilliant people. Those are the ones getting similar grades and scores without much, if any, work. Their results might even below. Boredom and laziness are the bugaboos of the truly intelligent. Everything is just too easy. After years of being unchallenged, it is hard to get motivated or involved in schooling.

Those who study this area rarely understand. They come from the hard-work crowd. The media coverage of anything relating to mental abilities also gets this warped treatment because most reporters are from that same crowd. Gifted childred really are a rarity. By definition they are at least i in a hundred or scarcer. (although most school programs for gifted children let in many, many more to make the numbers viable for budgets and acceptance by the hordes of pushing hard-workers who all think their kids are gifted.

A genius is like an athelete. You did not have to teach Michael Jordan how to jump high (yes, practice might have added something to his leaping ability, but a 40-inch vertical leap is based much on not training). Usain Bolt might work on his starting techniques to shave a few hundredths of a second off of his sprint records, but his speed is a gift. It is not gained mainly from hard work. Even without practice, Bolt could have run a very credible time, like 11.0 seconds in the 100-meter dash, even if he had never trained.

That is the difference between native abilities and skills. Quit overusing the word genius.

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