What kinds of geniuses are we developing?

I just re-read Jonah Lehrer’s Wired article about geniuses. Still particularly struck by the call-out quote: “The US is good at generating geniuses. The problem is that they’re all athletes.”

Since I tend to follow Nobel Prizes, Wolf Prizes, and MacArthur Grants rather than the NCAA Final Four, I can intuitively grasp this. What does it say to our children when we obsess more over a basketball tournament than we do about who is going to get a MacArthur Grant? I’m not going to make dire predictions about the shallowness of our culture or use catchphrases like “dumbing-down” or anything else that might make me appear to be older and more crochety than I really am.

What I will say instead is that children reflect the values they see exhibited, and while it may take a genius to discover quantum dots or self-assembly, it certainly does not take any special genius to appreciate these concepts and to dream about what they might mean and how they might be applied.

2 thoughts on “What kinds of geniuses are we developing?

  1. Pingback: MacArthur grants announced; 23 lucky people to follow, or not « Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

    • Yeah, Jonah Lehrer. Tragedy, I think. He is not the first to crack under pressure nor will he be the last.

      What I think is most frustrating is that people have focused in on the so-called “self-plagiarism” (which is a misnomer) rather than his falsifying data/quotes, which is much more serious.

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