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tedd's avatar

Who is the smartest person you know?

Asked by tedd (14013 points ) January 27th, 2012

And I mean book smarts intelligence, not street smart or wisdom wise.

Four examples from my own life.
-A buddy of mine from college is currently a candidate for a Nobel Prize in Physics. He does research up at I believe Michigan State now, he not so subtly suggested to me a few years ago that he may be working on some kind of invisibility thing.
-I used to be friends with a girl in college, Laura, and worked with another girl as a camp counselor, Betsy…. Today they are both brain surgeons.
-My cousin Mikey is a genius. No other way to put it. He taught himself Russian and computer coding languages in middle school. He went to the University of Michigan for some kind of financial degree, and had amassed several hundred thousand dollars on the stock market before graduating. He turned down a job with a New York financial firm because his wife is still in grad school at UM, and the firm said “Oh no that’s fine, we’ll pay you to work from home and we’ll just fly you out when we need you in person.” He now makes, at age 25, more than the rest of my extended family combined.

What about you, who’s the smartest person/people you know.

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20 Answers

Seelix's avatar

My dad. He was in university at 16, back in the day when skipping grades was more common. He’s a retired dentist, and he knows more about more things and is capable of understanding just about any concept than anyone I know.

YoBob's avatar

Tough question. I have the good fortune to be surrounded by extremely intelligent people.

One of my very best friends is not only a member of MENSA, but of a high IQ group that requires one to be in the top percentile of MENSA members.

The father of one of my kids best friends is a research scientist for DOW and the mother was given a free ride at UT in the aerospace engineering department (she used to wear a T-shirt that said “Yes, I really am a rocket scientist”.

Both of my kids go to a math and science magnet school that is in the top 25 best programs in the country. Pretty much all of those kids, as well as their parents, are scary smart.

The 19 year old daughter of my neighbor (One parent holds a Phd in botany and the other is an administrator in a local college) spent the summer of her sr. year in high school doing lab research on hemophilia and is co-author of a published scholarly work on the topic.

I work as a software engineer and can’t even begin to list the uber smart folks that have surrounded me my entire career.

However, I have to give the overall prize to one of my current colleagues. Not only is he generally brilliant, he has a darned near photographic memory to match.

amujinx's avatar

My younger brother. He just got his masters in math (I have no idea if it’s more specialized than that, if you get him talking about math he drones on way past the point that anyone not in the field cares and you feel all the information you gathered about his schooling drain out your ears), and I believe he is going to start working on his doctorate. He is one of those people who is all book smarts and no street smarts though, so I’m glad you specified in your question.

tinyfaery's avatar

My wife. She knows everything and can do anything.

janbb's avatar

My brother who is a leading Talmudic scholar, my son who is a computer scientist and a humanist, and ex-Jelly dpworkin who knows almost everything.

Akua's avatar

My uncle Albert is the smartest person I know. He has never had formal education and earned degrees but he is the kind of person that teaches himself things. For instance he can quote entire books word for word and if you ask him a question he will not only answer it but will give you references, examples and tell you the history behind it. He knows the history behind everything and his house is so crammed with books that there is no place to sit. Nothing is ever simple with this man. He can quote all religious scriptures, jurisprudence and literature from front to back, word for word. People in the family avoid him because he’s a bit eccentric and visiting him could take all day because he won’t stop talking and regurgitating information. He became a soveriegn citizen, A Hebrew rabbi (he officiated at his own fathers funeral), he taught himself the hebrew language and hold numerous certification in different areas and refuses to work for anyone but himself, won’t drive a car and pretty much lives off grid. He is also a gifted photographer and knows four martial arts techniques in addition to owning a martial arts school in NYC. I think he’s so smart he’s going mad.

snowberry's avatar

I have many relatives that fit that description. One wrote the computer program for the Hubble Space Telescope. Another is a top scientist at NASA. Another is an inventor, and among other things, invented an x-ray machine and electric cars.

talljasperman's avatar

~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Cooper Sheldon Cooper “The guy is one lab accident away from being a supervillain”

Personally I don’t belive that people can be smarter than others…so everyone I know is just as book smart as everyone else. Getting a Nobel prize or a good job as a brain surgeon doesn’t mean one is smarter.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

Since you specified “book smarts,” I have a friend who teaches a couple college courses on high level mathematics and philosophy. She’s very book smart but not very wise, which is why she’s barely scraping by and doesn’t have health care in her job. I’ve also met Steve Jobs, Pixar founder John Lasseter, and some Wall Street VPs, all of whom were far less book-smart but far wiser, more determined, and more socially adept than my book-smart friend.

YoBob's avatar

LOL @talljasperman

I went to college with a guy who now works for Dolby labs with a similar disposition. The job title he put on his business cards read “Evil Genius”.

Akua's avatar

Oh I forgot to mention someone else who I think is very smart. I have a friend who is a doctor, an engineer and a pilot.

wundayatta's avatar

I work at a university. I know a lot of professors who are pretty smart. I have a lot of friends who are pretty smart. None of them seem super smart so as to stand out from the rest. Honestly, I don’t think of people that way. To me it’s whether they are interesting or not. If they interest me, I don’t think “hey, you’re smart.” I just think they’re interesting. If they aren’t interesting, I don’t spend much time with them.

This smartness thing has always bothered me. It seems like a ranking system that is designed more to make people feel superior to others. It doesn’t seem to have any other purpose than to give people a way to feel like they have more status. Intelligence—whatever that is—has never seemed to me to be a useful way of evaluating someone. Like I say—I evaluate people on how interesting they are to me—which is a personal standard that cannot be generalized. Just because you interest me doesn’t mean you are interesting in general.

But then what do I know? If I don’t think there is a useful conception of smartness, the perhaps that means I’m just not very smart. I prefer to think it means I just don’t agree with most people—but I can see how that would be perceived as not being smart. Still, if agreeing with the masses is how we decide what smartness is, then I don’t find that very interesting. Like I said, I’m not very smart. So how would I know who was smart? I don’t even know why I bother to answer these questions. I just complain about the same thing over and over again. Get over it! There is no such thing as intelligence! Or rather, it’s about as useful a concept as race. Sure, it exists, but nobody knows what the fuck it means.

JLeslie's avatar

My dad.

linguaphile's avatar

As far as credentials go, my sister. 2 BAs, 2 MAs, a PhD and a MD. She works on programs for Apple, the FBI, several international universities and is a university professor, all before age 35. Apparently, I’m the reason she went this far. I was a class valedictorian and she felt inferior, so went out to prove she could be as good as me. I guess she got on a track, kept running and didn’t notice she whizzed past me a long time ago.

jonsblond's avatar

The four most important men in my life. My dad, husband and two sons. My oldest son is in the honors college at his university. He’s a very smart young man who knows three languages (English, German and Japanese). My youngest son will graduate high school this May. He will more than likely graduate as Valedictorian or Salutatorian. He received several recruitment letters from Yale a few months back but he chose to attend a private university that is an hour from our home here in Illinois. He’s received a very substantial Dean’s scholarship to attend this university. I’m very proud of my sons for what they have accomplished.

FutureMemory's avatar

I want to name a jelly, but that’s not allowed.

In real life, I have a friend that taught physics at UC Berkley. He’s also been a cop, ambulance driver, TV repairman, and computer repairman. Later this year his first book is being published. He has a few patents as well.

YARNLADY's avatar

My husband is probably one of the smartest people on the planet. He never got his Ph D because he was working in Information Technology and making more money than most of them.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

My old research mentor, Dr. Joseph Michl and my current adviser, Patricia Clough.

augustlan's avatar

@FutureMemory We’ve loosened up on that rule a bit. As long as it’s a positive mention, and doesn’t give away any private info, you’re allowed to name a jelly. So I will! ;)

Fluther has a load of really smart folks. Jeruba, thorninmud, SavoirFaire, and Qingu come immediately to mind, but I’m sure I’m missing quite a few.

In my ‘real life’, it’s my husband and kids. Mr. Augustlan hooked me with his combination of intelligence and lack of pretension. He’s smart enough to be a professor, but has spent his working life as a landscaper because that’s what he preferred to do. My daughters are very bright, and the oldest is having her Yale interview next week. She doesn’t really expect to get in, but the fact that it’s even in the realm of possibility blows my mind. I’m a high school dropout for crying out loud!

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