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mazingerz88's avatar

What would become of our world if all humans became geniuses?

Asked by mazingerz88 (29031points) October 9th, 2011

Would it be better off or worse?

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26 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Genius + compassion = wonderful things

Genius – compassion = deep shit

CWOTUS's avatar

I refer you to an ancient Buddhist saying:

Before enlightenment: fetch wood; carry water.
After enlightenment: fetch wood; carry water.

At least we could expect better conversations as a rule. More Fluther-like, in other words.

Hibernate's avatar

Worse. Because most geniuses don’t bother how the people around feel. Most geniuses are antisocial and very apathetic. Some sort of example is Dr House. He’s not that bad but a real genius acts more bad than him. So if we were to be all it would be a disaster.

zenvelo's avatar

@Hibernate Those are some pretty broad generalizations.TV characters are not representative. Besides, House is not a genius, just a persistent diagnostician. It always takes him the whole show to figure out what is wrong with the patient.

To expand on @thorninmud‘s post, genius is different from psychology and different from personality.

I don’t think the world would be all that different, plenty of geniuses do stupid things.

gailcalled's avatar

And aside from being the product of a creative writer, House used to be Bertie Wooster, the world’s most endearing stumblebum.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@zenvelo That is VERY true.

@thorninmud Excellent answer!

Buttonstc's avatar

Who would be left to deal with garbage ? (and all those other yucky dirty jobs which Mike Rowe investigates each week)

But more to the point, who would there be left to do all those routine and extremely boring assembly/factory type jobs for which genuises are temperamentally ill-equiped ?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@zenvelo LOL! Takes House the whole show to figure out what’s wrong with the patient! LOLLLLL!!

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Buttonstc So that a genius wouldn’t have to deal with it, they would instead deal with it by finding a way to eliminate it. Thats why they’re geniuses… They got it like that.

gailcalled's avatar

MIlo here; I’d be out of a job.

dabbler's avatar

The fanatic semantic in me says the premise is inherently contradictory.
Genius is a relative term, at the hyperbolic end of some capability scales.
By definition everyone can’t be a genius, unless maybe if the scale is so contrived that everyone has the same rated level of genius. At that point the term is meaningless.
It’s about as meaningful as saying we’re all geniuses at being ourselves.

Everyone is human and we are all equal in some fundamental sense, but that’s at the opposite end philosophically from evaluating folks in such way that comes up with a genius grade. We grade/rank all sorts of things in our lives because we find that very useful.

What would it mean if we all manifest extreme capabilities to similar levels?
It would be commonplace and you wouldn’t notice it.

People would still behave differently and get different things done and get different levels of respect for who they are, due to differences in personality.
In fact, you might say that’s the way it is with folks already, we have our individual potential, and some of us fill the bucket to overflowing and some put enough into it to get by.
So is the answer right out here amongst us?

Hibernate's avatar

@zenvelo we cannot discuss this subject unless we generalize it. [the fact that most geniuses are not fitted for a normal life].
I gave House as an example because it’s the first one that most people do know. Being so smart makes him the way he is.

Anyway it’s all about our own interpretation. Look how sarcastic some people are. Believe it or not the smarter you are the more sarcastic one becomes. Not to mention all geniuses are ingrates. I wanna see the one who’s gonna be thankful when another helps him [even in his area of expertise].

@Dutchess_III it takes House a whole episode to figure out what’s wrong with a patient or else you wouldn’t have to watch 8 seasons or you’d just watch an NBC show for 15 minutes once every 2 weeks with some guy telling to others what’s wrong with them. People wouldn’t want to watch that or they jsut watch soap operas.

zenvelo's avatar

@Hibernate Yes, one can discuss this without making blanket statements about geniuses. Sarcasm is not correlated to smarts. Not all geniuses are ingrates (Einstein disproves that, he was a joyful man that worried about world peace.)

A lot of the Nobel prize winners this week spoke about how fortunate to have great assistants and teams that helped them with their studies and findings.

zenvelo's avatar

Each person can be a genius in his or her own way. Genius is in the act, the doing, not the potential.

Bill Walsh was called the genius when he coached the 49ers. But I am not sure he could have been a genius as a doctor, or as a pilot. But a garbageman or a janitor who can intuit the process to make it better may demonstrate his genius in his own humble profession.

dreamwolf's avatar

It’d be better. A genius for me, has a high sense of social benefits as a human species. I’d imagine a genius race to already have figured out how to colonize in outer space and function in a non monetary society. So in short a genius society exists already in the Star Trek world.

ddavel544's avatar

Well, gee whiz…if everyone in the entire world were as great a genius as me…I’d just get tired of taking to people. And would become lonely and withdrawn from society. An ‘outcast’ created by society at large.

GabrielsLamb's avatar


“A genius for me, has a high sense of social benefits as a human species.”

Most geniuses statistically tend to run along the lines of being more antisocial actually.
From Einstein & Newton to Copernicus and Davinci, Nash, Van Gogh… they were all basically recluses and had very little social concerns or conscience. Most true genius is self exacting, self preserved, self imposed, and self obsessed the fact that it ends up being beneficial to society must be introduced as well as learned. As in the case of Fenyman and Sagan.

But that being said, I like your take on it… As it would be optimal.

YARNLADY's avatar

As stated above, the word is a comparative, so it is impossible for everyone one to be a genius. However, if everyone were several degrees smarter than they are now, I imagine it would be a better world.

spykenij's avatar

In 7th grade, the guidance counseler of half my junior high school called my mom to tell her my IQ was 166. Probably because I had to grow up before I turned 3. I would say, the world would be very different. One of many new doors, not all good and not all bad. I think people would be more comfortable and more efficient, possibly. I’d like to say the world would be more sane and rational, but there is definitely a thin line between genious and crazy, though I can’t squish everyone into that category. Where is my flying car?! It is 2011! Too bad we regressed as a nation because of what I refuse to call our former “president” railroaded this country into the last century and into the ground. Whoa! Tangent anyone?

spykenij's avatar

@zenvelo – Maybe genious is like beauty…in the eye of the beholder. I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down. Ya dig?

Buttonstc's avatar

I do think there is one valid generalization that can be made about geniuses.

The higher someone’s IQ, the less they are suited to dull, boring repetitive tasks. And this manifests particularly strongly in children since they have less control and choice in their environment than adults.

Geniuses are constantly searching for challenges and variety. With kids, if their learning environment does not challenge them, they will seek out other avenues. Some do it by being disruptive behavior problems simply out of sheer boredom. Others find ways to teach themselves in subjects they find interesting and challenging.

If you’re a teacher with a classroom of intellectually gifted geniuses, you had better be on your toes and be two steps ahead of them or regret the results.

And if you have a few intellectual genius kids among a group of rather average ones, you’d better figure out some creative ways to keep them busy and challenged or you’ll really rue the day.

They’ve already learned the standard material in a fraction of the time that it takes average students. That’s part of what genius is about. They will not be content to just sit and twiddle their thumbs while the rest catch up to them.

Genius level has it’s share of problems as well as benefits. And trying to pretend that everyone is genius at something is just plain hogwash. (Mostly likely stemming from the current anti-competition emphasis where everybody gets a trophy and it doesn’t matter whether their team won or lost.)

That’s not the way life works. Totally unrealistic. There are many average kids who grow up to be average people and there is NOTHING WRONG with that.

Average people are the ones doing all the boring mundane tasks of everyday life and keeping the world in working order. Life could not function without them.

Not everybody can be a Steve Jobs or a Dean Kamen. It’s average Joes who keep life flowing smoothly. And many are quite happy doing whatever routine tasks they do.

But if they were genius level (with a genius level curiosity and drive) they would most likely be quite bored and unhappy in those same jobs.

Many geniuses have such an obsessive drive that it wears out many of the more average people in their lives if they aren’t careful. Not all, but many.

There is nothing wrong with being average. Average makes the world go round.

Hibernate's avatar

@zenvelo the only thing you missed is that Nobel prize is given for a lot of things not for being the smartest one in your domain :P
And I doubt a few occasions when Einstein was filled with joy can compensate for the other things. Remember… he was smart… he wasn’t smart enough to see the atomic bomb could be used for harm. He left that project but when he left it was too late. There are still people accusing him of being ignorant.

dabbler's avatar

@Hibernate “he wasn’t smart enough to see the atomic bomb could be used for harm”
The doc at the top of that page is the letter from Einstein to President Roosevelt about the possible construction of nuclear bombs. He clearly understood their potential for destruction.
The motivation was knowledge that German scientists were working on them already.

His proposal included sharing research with everyone globally so that no one would dare use such a thing. Things did not turn out that way.

It’s clear that he later regretted his involvement, and when the first bomb was dropped on Japan he said something about wishing he had become a shoe-shine boy.

mazingerz88's avatar

@dabbler Yes I saw that letter at the Spy Museum in D.C. and not sure whether that was the actual letter but it was enlightening nonetheless. Hmm, Einstein as a shoe-shine boy? I think he would still have ended up knowing how might an atom be split up just by looking at all those shoes he had just made shiny and bright.

mattbrowne's avatar

Let me use this example. There is a team building exercise called the ‘walking A’. There are three teams of about 6 people each. All they have is a bunch of wooden poles and ropes. When they figure it out how to do it, it looks like this

Many teams succeed because of diverse talents and a healthy balance of thought leaders, moderators, critics etc.

There are experiments putting together teams of geniuses or stars. Usually they fail.

So the world would break down if all humans became geniuses.

Buttonstc's avatar


You summed up the point I was meandering around so much more effectively. You’re absolutely right.

If everybody were a genius, life would be intolerable (and functionality would quickly break down)

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