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  1. Behind the scenes
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    01 Mar '18 17:553 edits
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young man with the same kind of brilliant mind, who had little ambition, and later went on to work for the Boeing company as a machinist. Schools all over the world have students just like these.

    Why is it that so many people with burning ambitions to achieve struggle with average and below average intellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
  2. Joined
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    01 Mar '18 18:081 edit
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
    Why is it that so many people with burning ambitions to achieve struggle with average and below average intellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?

    Perhaps because they see little value in what so many people with burning ambitions struggle to achieve. Perhaps they see the insanity in it.
  3. Stargazing
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    01 Mar '18 18:21
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
    Clearly evolution hasn’t yet selected for >burning ambition< + >intellect< = reproductive advantage.

    Because it isn’t.
  4. Standard membervivify
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    01 Mar '18 18:33
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
    If the girl's "only goal in life" was to get married and have kids, that (partly) answers your question in that scenario.

    There are endless reasons why two people with similar talents have differing levels of success. This can range from home life (supporting or abusive parents, poverty, etc.), sexism, racism, etc.

    Attractiveness is also another factor. I've seen one woman who was absolutely fawned over in a room full of tech nerds. She wasn't really only okay-looking, but in that environment with few women, even a somewhat decent looking woman is a goddess. She was what I call "nerd hot".

    Anyway, she absolutely should not have been hired, and zero idea of what she was doing. She became very effective at her networking/data-security job, because the guys would fly out of their seats if she showed even the slightest sign of trouble. She had the all of the best people at her beck and call. To be fair, she also had a nice personality, very charming and feminine, which helped give her a damsel-in-distress vibe when she needed help (which was constantly). I slowly developed a slow, burning hatred for this girl. We got along fine, but I was just resentful that I had to handle tough assignments on my own (most of us did) while she giggled her way through work.

    Then, of course, there's also a person's connections (it's not what you know, it's who), as well as plain dumb luck.
  5. Standard memberwolfgang59
    Mr. Wolf
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    01 Mar '18 19:01
    Some people's greatest potential is to be happy.
  6. Joined
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    01 Mar '18 19:39
    A teacher famously (or infamously) once noted that a particular student of his would never amount to anything.

    That student was Albert Einstein.
    A flipside example.
  7. Joined
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    01 Mar '18 20:57
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
    Try this:

    YouTube
  8. Joined
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    01 Mar '18 21:02
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
    "Why is it that so many people with burning ambitions to achieve struggle with average and below average intellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?"

    Is this an accurate description of many societies or are you claiming this solely on the basis of these two people you knew?
  9. Standard memberSleepyguy
    Reepy Rastardly Guy
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    01 Mar '18 21:23
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
    An old chestnut I have often quoted to my kids:

    Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
    - Calvin Coolidge
  10. Joined
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    01 Mar '18 21:34
    Originally posted by @sleepyguy
    An old chestnut I have often quoted to my kids:

    Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The sl ...[text shortened]... Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
    - Calvin Coolidge
    From the OP, seems likely that something else is at play in regards to the the two examples given. It seems likely that they no longer found value in what is inculcated by society at large as being valuable.
  11. Joined
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    03 Mar '18 16:55
    Originally posted by @thinkofone
    From the OP, seems likely that something else is at play in regards to the the two examples given. It seems likely that they no longer found value in what is inculcated by society at large as being valuable.
    bump
  12. Joined
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    03 Mar '18 17:22
    Optimizing a high IQ is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Francis Crick supposedly had an IQ of 115. However, I cannot find anything to substantiate this rumor. I too recall classmates who had high IQ's and terrific recall yet grew up to man the candy counter and drive a cab. I have also observed that many of those who get a spot on Jeopardy have very mundane, even blue collar, careers. Brilliance without ambition will not shine.
  13. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    05 Mar '18 00:51
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
    That is certainly an interesting question.

    First of all, there is a lot of work that goes into becoming a stand out person. Even if you are a genius, you have to remember that there millions of geniuses, and you also have to remember that everyone has different interests, and some of these fields do experience breakthroughs while others do not. Many just stagnate. Indeed, there might even be an overrepresentation of bad ideas in breakthrough philosophy or theology simply because the previous 2,000+ years is full of established, good ideas that no one can get recognition for anymore.

    Let me also say... I was interested in pursuing a career in academia in Philosophy, and am still thinking of going back to do to that. But I can tell you this...

    - The pay isn't as good as what many can get in the private market. Without even very specific qualifications you can land jobs that will pay you more than any Professor gig unless you are a very established professor.
    - The job security is worse. They don't really hand out tenure much anymore. The markets are contracting.
    - The process is longer and involves putting aspects of your life on hold. Do you really want to be 32 years old doing post doc work and wondering if you can land a job in some country you've never been to before, competing against 200 other applicants, meanwhile, you want to get married and have a kid..?
    - It is chock full of ego and super big personalities. People can be cruel and weird to each other, and even when they aren't doing that, some people will benefit from nepotism and preferential treatment while others who do not even experience anything negative will simply observe this and be discouraged.

    And outside of academia, how are intellectuals supposed to eb famous?

    Obviously, we can pretend that true genius means just sitting down in a garage and being able to revolutionize the world but that is unrealistic and a silly viewpoint.

    You also have this thing where people think it is really prestigious to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, etc., but IDK, man. I've never been interested in that -- especially after I learned about it more. I do not think the yare measures of genius, either.
  14. Joined
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    05 Mar '18 10:451 edit
    Originally posted by @phranny
    Optimizing a high IQ is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Francis Crick supposedly had an IQ of 115. However, I cannot find anything to substantiate this rumor. I too recall classmates who had high IQ's and terrific recall yet grew up to man the candy counter and drive a cab. I have also observed that many of those who get a spot on Jeopardy have very mundane, even blue collar, careers. Brilliance without ambition will not shine.
    Or rather, it will not shine in an ambitious career. Who knows how brilliant these people are in their hobbies?

    M.R. James was a brilliant scholar in a decidedly obscure field, and had it been for his day job, only similarly musty scholars would remember him today. But every year, just for entertainment, he would write a ghost story to tell to his fellow dons over Christmas. They made him justly famous, but had they not, he would have written them quite as happily.
  15. SubscriberSuzianne
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    05 Mar '18 13:031 edit
    Originally posted by @phranny
    Optimizing a high IQ is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Francis Crick supposedly had an IQ of 115. However, I cannot find anything to substantiate this rumor. I too recall classmates who had high IQ's and terrific recall yet grew up to man the candy counter and drive a cab. I have also observed that many of those who get a spot on Jeopardy have very mundane, even blue collar, careers. Brilliance without ambition will not shine.
    For some people with ambition, nothing is ever quite "good enough". Happiness is always just over the next hill, retreating again and again, as each hill is topped.

    Another measure of intelligence is to know when one is happy and to maximize one's happiness, Satisfying ambition doesn't make one happy, it's a cruel taskmaster which whips you to go on to the next challenge when the best course may just be to slow down and take the time to enjoy one's happiness. Age and wisdom often bring regret that one hasn't fully realized when happiness was within one's own grasp. People often forget that simply getting to one's destination isn't the grand prize, it is acknowledging that the journey is worthwhile for its own sake. How many times has someone said to you (or you have said to someone), "I love you dearly, but I must be moving on"? What is so important about getting to the end, if you bypass everything important on the way?

    The mark of a good life is not what one becomes in life, but in the people one meets along the way, and the impact you have on their lives. I'd rather be remembered fondly by the people I meet than to get to the end of my life and have to keep saying to anyone who will listen, "Look what I did. I was important."
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