I saw this report on Nightline a few hours ago.  I thought it was too funny to not comment on it.

Padgett doesn’t have a PhD, a college degree or even a background in math.

Because it’s long been believed that one cannot draw or even understand geometric shapes without a vast mathematical background.

“I see bits and pieces of the Pythagorean theorem everywhere”

If you really want to seem like a genius, it shouldn’t be hard to get on Wikipedia and find some less commonly known theorem names to name-drop.  Like “I see representations of Pappus’s theorem everywhere, mixed with Levi graphs and Cremona-Richmond configurations.  Oh, sorry, is my genius blowing your mind?  I just can’t turn it off.”

Padgett can draw a visual representation of the formula Pi, that infinite number that begins with 3.14.

So… he can draw a circle with some lines through it.  Amazing.  (Also, pi is not a formula.  And since when is “infinite number” an acceptable description of an irrational number?)

Anyway, aside from the fact that the products of “genius” here are not very impressive in and of themselves (reports of musical genius savants are far more interesting), what really annoys me about reports like this is that they make it seem like a desired skill set is out of one’s conscious control.  It makes genius-ness seem like a “gift” that you either have to be given or can never get.  And I believe this is a very bad notion for the world to accept, because it results in a lot of people missing out on their potentials because they’ve been taught that they don’t even exist.  Which is complete rubbish.

Categories: Stupid things

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