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See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 23, Issue 5

The Science of Genius

Outstanding creativity in all domains may stem from shared attributes and a common process of discovery

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Identifying genius is a dicey venture. Consider, for example, this ranking of “The Top 10 Geniuses” I recently stumbled across on Listverse.com. From first to last place, here are the honorees: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci, Emanuel Swedenborg, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, John Stuart Mill, Blaise Pascal, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bobby Fischer, Galileo Galilei and Madame De Staël.

What about Albert Einstein instead of Swedenborg? Some of the living might also deserve this appellation—Stephen Hawking comes to mind. A female genius or two might make the cut, perhaps Marie Curie or Toni Morrison. And if a chess champion, Fischer, is deemed worthy, other geniuses outside the arts and sciences ought to deserve consideration—Napoleon Bonaparte as a military genius, Nelson Mandela as a political genius or Bill Gates as an entrepreneurial genius, to name a few candidates.

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