YANSS 270 – Defining, undefining, and redefining the word “genius”

In this show, you’ll hear the first episode of a documentary series I made for Himalaya, an audio service devoted to inspirational and educational content, that asked me if I had any ideas for a book that I had yet to pursue, and sure enough, I did. Over the course of this audio documentary series, I explore the history and science of intelligence, IQ, and remarkable talent through interviews with dozens of intelligence experts and actual “geniuses.” By the end we get a much better picture of genius as a cultural construct and consider how we can unlock its positive potential within ourselves.

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With that documentary as my foundation, I’m currently writing a new book with what, at first, seems like a simple thesis: “What does the word ‘genius’ really mean, and how come it is so hard to get an answer to that question?”

I hit the road immediately after I finished how How Minds Change and began work on answering those two questions, and it turned out to be the most complex project I’ve ever undergone. I have since spent time with the man with the highest IQ ever recorded, the youngest person with the highest-known IQ, visited MENSA headquarters, and interviewed the world’s leading experts on intelligence, creativity, and the various “gifted” programs around the world. I’ve also embedded myself with modern eugenicists and visited schools whose missions, for better or worse, is to create geniuses.

Currently, I’m spending time with cognitive linguists and other experts who study meaning-making itself and how we attempt to articulate the ineffable through language, literature, poetry, art, math, and more. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve found.


Links and Sources

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Previous Episodes

How Minds Change

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Show Notes

Exploring Genius Audio Documentary