EDUCATION: Genius Schools

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 7 Jan 1997 14:29:58 -0800 (PST)

"David Musick" writes:
>I made the assertion that humans are operating at *far* below our true
>potential and that I believe a typical human has the potential to become a far
>greater genius than past geniuses, such as Newton. Robin Hansen asked what
>evidence there is that we are operating so far beneath our potential.
>The geniuses themselves are the evidence that most of us are operating beneath
>our potential. The people who excell show us some of what is possible. I
>have no reason to assume that there is anything magically different about the
>geniuses that made them excell. I think we all have the same basic equipment
>and that we can all take it to at least the same level of quality that the
>geniuses do. I also believe that they could have taken their abilities much
>further than they did, especially if they had been working together with other
>geniuses, for that purpose. ...
>The point is that I had much more potential than I really imagined a few
>years ago, and much more potential than I had any evidence to support my
>belief in. ... Most people aren't really
>even *trying* to become smarter, especially since most people have the belief
>that their intelligence is set on a certain level. Typical humans are not
>encouraged to think deeply or to regularly solve difficult and complex
>problems. People are simply not doing the excercises required to develop
>genius. This is why I believe they are far below their true potential.

Yes, your personal experience indicates that some of the variation in
people's "genius" is explained by their training. But you just can't
conclude from this that proper training would make the typical human
far greater than Newton. There doesn't need to be anything
"magically" different about people to make this false - just something
different. It could be lots of things, including their basic ambition
level, whether they happened to stumble on a fundamental insight, or a
some basic "processing speed". I wish what you say were true, but
wishing don't make it so.

Robin D. Hanson