The Fact of the Matter

January 16, 2008

The fact of the matter is this: geniuses are lonely on average because they are rare, and therefore unlikely to congregate at random. If I want to find companionship, I will have to look for a group of smart people, and go to them. It’s really not a complicated issue warranting its own blog.

There’s the business of signaling such that they accept me, but I imagine it working something like this:

1) I find a group that does interesting, revolutionary things
2) I say hello, and show them the interesting, revolutionary things that I have done
3) We like each other’s work, and therefore work together

Problem solved, blog over.

Rock on, don’t take yourself too seriously.

16 Responses to “The Fact of the Matter”

  1. A. Garnet Says:

    I regret that my response will have to be somewhat brief for now, but let me interject a thought as a jumping-off point for a later discussion. In your premise of looking for a group of smart people and joining them, you have neglected to address your prior statement that people of genius-level intellect “are rare, and therefore unlikely to congregate at random.”

    Why should you expect to find a preexisting group of such people? You yourself have apparently experienced the inherent difficulty in finding other like-minded individuals, so why should others of similar background have had any greater level of success than you, aside from random probability? Your discussion of signaling is certainly interesting (and is in fact what brought me to your blog in the first place), but I feel it necessary to point out that correct signaling and subsequent acceptance into a group are moot points if there is no group there to receive said signals.

    The issue goes back to the numbers game of being several standard deviations outside of “normal,” and the resultant improbabilities of finding similar individuals on the outlying ends of the curve. Even if we accept, for purposes of the discussion, that IQ and intellectual and creative abilities have a strong positive correlation (which I personally believe), and assume that anyone that fits the specified IQ range will automatically share similar interests with one’s self (which unfortunately I have found tends not to be true), and that none of these people have other factors that would prevent you from interacting with them (language barriers, geographic or other isolation from your available search range, poor social skills on the other person’s end that prevent good signal transmission and/or reception, things as simple as personality conflict or “bad chemistry”, etc.), the reality is that finding a whole group of such rare individuals is still a highly unlikely outcome.

    Keep in mind that even if you are prepared to accept a less-than-ideal scenario and associate with a group that is merely within the fourth standard deviation, 0.1% of the population, you’re still pretty darn unlikely to find isolated individuals in that range, much less a group of them that are out doing interesting, revolutionary things. I would imagine that most people that fit into the segment of the population that would truly be capable of the kind of interaction and stimulus you seek share the same frustrations as you in finding their peers.

    Now, I’m not trying to bring you down, but I think the idea of just finding a group, tipping your hat in greeting, and launching into a riveting discussion of marvelous things of mutual interest just leaves out too many impeding factors, and doesn’t approach a solution to the real problem … and frankly, I’d like to work on a solution, because I’m getting really tired of dumbing down my vocabulary, restricting my conversations to mere fluff topics and downscaling my thinking processes to keep speed with everyone around me. Thoughts?

  2. A. Garnet Says:


    Ignore what I said about brief. I do go on, don’t I?

  3. LG Says:

    I think Paul Graham’s essay about great hackers mentions that they tend to cluster around top organizations. His point, which he was making to potential employers, was that there is a critical mass, and that attracting great programmers isn’t a linear thing: a little better environment won’t get you one more great hacker. It has to be sufficiently amazing and interesting to attract great hackers, then great hackers will come. Before that, no great hackers will come at all.

    What Paul’s essay says to me is that intelligent people have a sort of gravity that attracts other intelligent people, and as a result, there should be places that do, in fact, have groups of geniuses.

    It also occurs to me that I am not the only person of high intelligence to have had these thoughts or sought companionship, so it seems likely that others have made headway in creating a community.

    One potential issue that I see is that high intelligence is correlated with anti-social personality. The Prometheus Society’s journal, A Gift of Fire, has a great article written almost 20 years ago now called The Outsiders, and it’s about this lonely genius syndrome. It explains partially why high IQ societies are fraught with infighting and division — by the nature of our lives so far, we are predisposed to being broken people, especially socially.

    That having been said, I know it’s possible to be highly intelligent yet not batshit insane. I count myself among the well-adjusted. I am by all means quirky, unusual, and very occasionally moody, but I get along well with people, and have a generally positive outlook. That gives me hope that there are others like me.

    It also occurs to me that because of how the intellectual gravity and anti-social personalities likely play off each other, the groups most likely to form are those made up of the more well-adjusted. Because of the correlation I mentioned before, this group will likely have a lower mean intelligence than an ideal group might, but maybe it will be sufficient to satisfy my itch.

    To answer your question more directly, the first step is to be willing to move. Groups of people who are literally one in a million will not be found everywhere. Theoretically, there are only 300 of them in the United States, and approximately 6500 of them worldwide. One must assume that a large proportion of that group is floating in space right now, like I am, and so we’re looking for a few small pockets.

    A couple places worth investigating are MIT – I hear Marvin Minsky is extremely bright, you might try contacting him and becoming involved in one of his groups in Boston. Also, NASA seems like a place likely to house smart people.

    What I would not do is attach yourself at random to the closest university. Academia does attract people who are brighter, but not brilliant, generally. Depending on how smart you really are personally, academia may be enough for you, but if you are in the 4th or 5th standard deviation range, then you’ll be underwhelmed by the whole experience. Universities in general are great for 2nd and 3rd deviation people. The issue is that universities are the de facto intelligent-people-gathering-place, making it an easy target for hangers on, and posers. Those posers tend to have large egos and, incidentally, to be more social, and therefore are able to insinuate themselves into the hierarchy of the organization, which makes the whole experience very similar to a corporation.

    No, what we need is an exclusive group. The group should limit its membership by simply doing work that is unapproachable by anyone but the brilliant. Posers may try to fake it, but they are soon sloughed away by their own ineptitude.

    That’s why you need to research groups that are doing work that intimidates you, personally, and get involved with them. Anything less will be disappointing – seek experiences that you are unsure you’ll be able to handle, and you will find fulfillment.

  4. Kay Says:

    I’m seventeen and I am sick of searching. I am so, so sick of searching.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    There is no reason to keep searching, I can tell you where to find what you’re looking for and you won’t find it in a group. You will find it alone while staring at the person in the mirror. But you must ask that person honestly, what are the things that have inspired him or her greatly since childhood, the things that would be worth living for and pursuing consciously with all of your energy as if your life depended on it ? If you are looking for the inspiration and the answers outside of yourself, then you will never be satisfied.
    Genius lights his own fire.

      • Anonymous Says:

        You may have started it but,
        when others are attracted to the warmth of your fire and join in, they must eventually pitch in to keep it going.
        And then it no longer is yours only, as you depend on others to fuel it. Genius does not depend on anything.
        Genius does not herd with genius. Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.
        It seems as though you haven’t yet been able to detach from the social ideals that society has fertilized your young mind with.
        You must get rid of the sticky manure they have smeared on your brain if you are to make full use of the enormous gift*
        that nature has inflicted upon you and become self actualized.
        *Sorry, I meant to say the great curse that nature has bestowed upon you. He he…
        You must sacrifice everything, concentrate all your powers into making your incredible thoughts come to life.
        Do not stop until you see the fruits of your labor, and even then. And do not be distracted by silly socialites.
        You will be far too preoccupied with your passion to waste your time with social trivialities.
        Your professor friend, the one that you respect, he is too busy becoming self actualized. And so must you be.
        Do not look for a master but become the master of your own universe.
        You have to be able to detach from anything at will in order to master yourself.(Including people)
        As a genius you do not need your thoughts to be validated or challenged by another human being.
        Share your thoughts with your creator. For he is the highest intellect and the source of all wisdom.
        And let him point out the way thru you, but pay attention to the subtle messages that he transfers:
        they are customized to your unique understanding and experience, and delivered in a timely pattern of events, that only you can decode, as they are only meant for the person they were designed to inspire.
        You already do this if you are a true genius regardless, unless you are denying your gift.
        If so, you will shiver till you deliver.

        Some people consider me bat shit insane, and yes I do live in a cave but not in Afghanistan. I live in hell,
        otherwise known as: “USA”. I grew up in Europe and I was the only quiet one out of 5 siblings.
        All commanding and competing for attention from family and friends.
        I, on the other hand, quiet, patient, curious and painfully shy, but with a mischievous sense of humor.
        These days I proudly stand up for the right to be who I have always been: Myself.
        I’ve always loved nature, art and music. They are for me forms of deliverance from the stupidly complicated and
        structured illusions that we are subjected to in society. I’m into graphic design also, or actually graphic art,
        because design to me, sounds too sterile, lifeless and bound by rigid rules.
        When I play my guitar, birds congregate around my window and start singing. They even come into the room sometimes.
        It’s a really sweet and beautiful thing to experience. After all music is the universal language…
        And then my nephew comes running into the room as they fly away and says: “Did you see all these birds ?”
        And I think, ah what’s the use: “Yeah I saw all these birds.”
        Contrary to popular belief, I do not talk to birds. But I do mimic the chirps they make and they do seem to respond.
        Although I don’t quite understand what they’re saying, they seem just as puzzled as I am about where this conversation is going.

        I appreciate the chance to temporarily warm myself by your fire in knowing there are others like me out there.
        After all it seems like a noble cause to help other young geniuses come to self realizations, and you may rope
        and assemble a few of them 140-150 IQ range specimens into a small decent herd,
        but I have my own fire to tend to, and I don’t expect anyone sane to be gathering around it,
        or else I will savagely and viciously defend my God given right to have it all to myself.
        The most precious gift is also the most personal.
        Although I have to admit you seem very kind and generous in wanting to share your gift.
        You will probably help a lot of people and accomplish more than I because of that.

        Good luck, peace.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Ken, you are not interested in other geniuses. What you are really looking for are men of talent skilled in your area of interest that will execute your vision.
    Am I right ?

    Or am I right… But of course, would you pass the grey poupon ?

    • LG Says:

      A lot has changed since I originally started this blog. I got serious about solving the money problem. I can get talented people to execute my vision now. I find that passion is more precious than horse power.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, definitely. Besides, Horses are disposable.
    So now that you have solved that probleme,
    have you solved the loneliness problem ?
    Have you found intellectually stimulating people
    (immeasurably profound Geniuses)
    that you can interact with on a regular basis ?
    Do you find these odd creatures reliable ?
    And if so, are the majority of the exchanges
    that you are having or looking to have with them,
    focused on your particular field of interest ?
    Based on the rarity of finding such an individual
    let alone in your field, can you recognize an uneducated genius
    who might not even know his own IQ ?
    And if his interests were different than yours
    would you be content in having conversations about more general subjects
    like the nature of reality ?
    Forgive me if those questions were already posed somewhere,
    I haven’t read the whole thing.

  8. LG Says:

    I wouldn’t call horses disposable–maybe fungible.

    Loneliness is a problem I’ve solved laterally. I haven’t surrounded myself with geniuses per se, but my personal life is utterly filled with love.

    I joined Sifter, which I don’t contribute to frequently, but I read with interest. That helps soak up some CPU cycles, so to speak.

    As for what they are like, and whether we could connect despite our differences, that depends on the individual. I’m always available for discussion.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Pardon my English, I’m European.
    I was looking for the right word, fungible sounds even better. Thanks for that, I just added it to my vocabulary. Ah yes love, that putrid disease. There is no love without hate. A lady once excitedly showed me a painting she had made hearing that I was artistically inclined. She asked my opinion and what I would name it. I did not find it particularly interesting or tasteful. It was rather messy although very colorful. I told her I would name it love. She looked at me amazed, and said: “That’s interesting I called it Happy Confusion…”

    By love, do you mean emotional attachment to other human beings ? And do you find that to be a satisfying substitution to intellectual challenge ? Love temporarily satisfied me but only physically. It has only slowed me down and left me more frustrated than anything else.

  10. LG Says:

    Sounds like you’re jaded.

    Love is the arrest of self protection. To be utterly, and mutually vulnerable is a sublime experience. You should try it.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I have been in love before. I just have a hard time being happy when I’m confused and vulnerable. I’m only happy when I can focus and use my mind without interruptions. Women distract me so much, they zap my mental and physical energy to the point where I become miserable… All I think of when I’m in a relationship is having sex with her all day long. And then I become her tool. To me love is nature’s trick into insuring procreation.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I get so absorbed into my woman, her escence permeates my soul. I can feel her and smell her even when she is not there.
    Sometimes it’s her pubic scent that’s lingering on my beard from the night before and am no longer able to function normally (according to my norm).

    I become obsessed like a dog in heat.
    Having to deal with my horse power all by myself as the mere thought of her takes precedence over all others and I am trapped like an insane hopeless beast
    going back and forth in a cage.

    Once is not enough, I want to be with her all night
    and all day, taking breaks in between for ice cream and naps, going until our genitals are raw, so that we have to heal before we can start all over again.

    I know, I know I’m an extreme…
    I cannot help it’s my nature. It’s all or nothing.

    I would like to create something worthwhile before I die but I cannot use my mind to do so when it is being invaded by such a primal powerful force.

    And then I read this:

    “It is through woman that ideality is born into the world and – what were man without her! There is many a man who has become a genius through a woman, many a one a hero, many a one a poet, many a one even a saint; but he did not become a genius through the woman he married, for through her he only became a privy councilor; he did not become a hero through the woman he married, for through her he only became a general; he did not become a poet through the woman he married, for through her he only became a father; he did not become a saint through the woman he married, for he did not marry, and would have married but one – the one whom he did not marry; just as the others became a genius, became a hero, became a poet through the help of the woman they did not marry.”


  13. D Says:

    I’ve had the forward adjustment in school year, feelings of isolation, depression, various academic achievements, incl. coming first in a state science competition with 50,000 entrants, honours at university e t c therefore I think my post might be relevant in this thread..

    I now believe that intelligence is for paying the bills, its a work bonus. It shouldn’t be used or considered as an obstacle, especially in social interactions. It isn’t who you are, it is simply an ability to do something well. Who you are is more than that.

    Suppose all you could do very well is fold tissues in half, but you ignored all other things in life even though you could be good at them.

    Would you think its reasonable to have a “no body loves me” tantrum because there aren’t enough tissue folders out there dedicated to folding tissues in half?

    Also, during conversations, pace yourself if you tend to be the one rambling, while you might have many things to speak about, it is exhausting to listen to. Don’t dump everything at once, release your load gradually and savour the moments.

    In fact you could hold a person’s interest for years, but you could also lose it in minutes, with the same amount of information to offer in both cases. Think about it. DEEPLY please, like most of you do.

    Lastly, I can vouch for benefits of exercise, a few morning classes are great. You have to exercise your body, not only your mind.

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