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Re: Misunderstanding (Re: Emacs-devel Digest, Vol 44, Issue 67)

From: Eric S. Raymond
Subject: Re: Misunderstanding (Re: Emacs-devel Digest, Vol 44, Issue 67)
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 22:00:52 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.15+20070412 (2007-04-11)

David Kastrup <address@hidden>:
> Most creative geniuses are nuts one way or the other.

This is commonly believed.  It's also not true.  Admissions to mental
hospitals per thousand drop off with increasing IQ. The professions with
the lowest insanity rates are mathematicians and theoretical phycisists,
where creative genius is a minimunm requisite to get in the door.
(Highest, in case you care, are waiters and short-order cooks.)
Yes, geniuses, in aggregate, are *saner* than average.  That's not to
say they don't have their own bell curve with some nutters on the low
end, but their median is higher.  This is true even though there are a
handful of forms of dementia that *only* affect the extremely bright
-- they're results of the brain, in effect, overclocking itself.

Just to be annoying, geniuses are also longer-lived, better-looking,
and more sexually active than average (there is good statistical
evidence for all three), Intelligence and creative ability are not
isolated traits; they're usually (though not invariably) an
epiphenomenon of genes that produce physical health and vigor as well.

The looks connection, BTW, comes from the fact that the two most
important beauty/handsomeness traits -- good skin and feature symmetry
-- are indicators of a robust immune system.  In fact, that's *why*
beauty is sexually important.  And immune-system function is probably
*more* closely connected to creativity and genius than most other
aspects of physical health; the relevant tissue systems are closely
related, both being elaborations of the embryonic ectoderm.

Near as I can tell, the trope that geniuses are usually sickly or mad
persists only because it makes people who aren't geniuses feel better
about not being geniuses.  It was utterly shattered, for me, the day I
was invited to speak at the Institute for Advanced Study, went to
faculty tea -- and noticed to my astonishment that the tea crowd
looked remarkably like a collection of Land's End models or TV stars.

Subsequently, I researched the matter, discovered the things I have
related above, and stopped being surprised.
                <a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/";>Eric S. Raymond</a>

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