Why are philosophers considered the most intelligent
The smartest person ever?
The 11-year-old American William James Sidis began studying at Harvard 100 years ago
By Klaus Caesar Zehrer
- In his spare time he solved the theory of black holes: William James Sidis. (Stock.XCHNG / Aleksandar Milosevic)
He is considered to be one of the most intelligent people of all time, his IQ has been estimated at 250 to 300. But the American William James Sidis spent most of his life as a simple office worker and left little mark on the history of science.
"The polyhedron angles of the dodecahedron, which play a role in many problems, have been of great help in developing my theories. Some of the things I have found out about the fourth dimension will help solve many problems in elliptical geometry."
One had never seen anything like this even at the venerable Harvard University: an eleven-year-old boy in shorts who lectured on four-dimensional bodies in the Mathematics Club to illustrious professors. Who has an equally thorough knowledge of anatomy, economics, philology, law, history, politics and astronomy. Not only the "New York Times" wonders what kind of intellectual giant is growing up with William James Sidis, a son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine:
"What will become of the child prodigy? Will he take the same path as most gifted boys, or will he one day make a name for himself?"
Child prodigy - that's not saying too much. At 18 months, little Billy, who was born in New York in 1898, can read the newspaper. At four he reads Caesar and Homer in the original. Not much later he speaks fluent Russian, French, German, Hebrew, Turkish, Armenian - as well as Vendergood, an artificial language he invented.
It only takes him seven months for seven years of elementary school, and high school is behind him in three months. At eight he had access to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Medical Institute at Harvard in his pocket. But even the elite universities do not know how to deal with the extremely gifted. It was only after three years of waiting that he was finally allowed to officially start studying at Harvard on October 11, 1909.
William James Sidis is the result of a carefully planned parenting experiment. The parents, both highly educated physicians, wanted to test their theories on early childhood learning on their son. His mother Sarah reads classical Greek sagas to him in the cradle.
"The whole secret of Billy's upbringing is that we instilled a love for learning into him early on. We decided that we'd treat Billy like an adult from the start."
Father Boris Sidis, renowned professor in the still young science of psychotherapy, triumphs. He suggests to the readers of his pamphlet "Philistines and Genius" that they could raise their children to similar intellectual excellence instead of letting them wither away in the state school system:
"The teacher with his pseudo-scientific, pseudo-psychological pseudo-logic can only produce a bunch of philistines with rigid behavioral patterns: puppets. I suppose you, as progressive men and women, recognize your true calling: making the hidden energies of your children accessible and human genius through upbringing to bring to light. "
William hated the public marketing of his genius. At the age of 16, on the occasion of his doctorate, he freely gave information about his life planning:
"I want to lead a perfect life. The perfect life can only be lived in isolation. I have always hated crowds."
But William James Sidis' adult life is not perfect. He gives up his first job as a math lecturer in Texas because his students, all older than him, tease him too much. He had written a textbook especially for her - in Greek. Then he carries out physical calculations on behalf of a laboratory, which, as he only learns later, serve military purposes. Sidis is an ardent pacifist. He quits immediately.
He joins the communist movement and is arrested as a ringleader in an unauthorized demonstration. His parents try re-education. Sidis runs away and rigorously breaks off the relationship. He makes his way through life incognito with poorly paid office jobs in New York and Boston. He categorically rejects any offer for a higher, better-paid job. Whenever he is recognized as the former press favorite, Billy, he immediately changes jobs.
In 1944, at the age of 46, William James Sidis dies of a cerebral haemorrhage. He left behind countless writings that have remained either unpublished or almost unnoticed to this day. In doing so, they are witnesses to a unique spirit. As early as 1925, Sidis developed the theory of black holes in his spare time - long before academic astronomy. But that wasn't recognized until decades later.
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