RS1 How to be a Genius

In his article, “How to be a Genius” David Dobbs explores the conditions necessary to foster talent, and create a “genius.” He questions whether the societal idea that genius is innate and not attained by enrichment is accurate. Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University argues that there are many other factors, which contribute to the extraordinary talent attained by certain individuals, “These people don’t necessarily have an especially high IQ, but they almost always have very supportive environments, and they almost always have important mentors. And the one thing they always have is this incredible investment of effort.”I tend to agree with this idea that along with success comes hard work and dedication. The people I personally know who have excelled athletically or academically have always put in a lot more effort than the average person. Their life becomes devoted to their craft and they almost always have a very supportive family who will give up vacations, or dispensable income to foster their child’s talent.

Dobbs brings up a very good point in this article, that the efforts taken to measure intelligence do not always measure up to the accomplishments of the intellectually gifted. Conversely, some considered to be above average on the IQ scale may not go on to become notable or successful. This discussion within the article reminded me of the movie, Good Will Hunting in which the main character Will Hunting is a janitor at MIT with an unusual gift for math. He falls into the category of an intellectually gifted person who has an IQ that does not match up with his accomplishments. Without a mentor or supportive environment to encourage his gift, he ends up mopping the floors at an institution he could very well be attending. Will is a great example of a character that demonstrates without hard work, genius is nothing.

A study of 120 elite athletes, performers, artists, biochemists and mathematicians led by University of Chicago psychologist Benjamin Bloom, concluded that it takes ten years of rigorous training to become an elite performer in any field. Every person in the study, even those who seemed naturally gifted took at least a decade of practice to receive international recognition. This goes to further support the main idea of Dobb’s article that success and high achievement do not come purely through genetics, but through enhancement of our genetic potentials. According to Dobbs, environment and experience play a bigger role than genetics according to and I agree 100 percent with that sentiment. After all, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. (Vince Lombardi)”


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