The curse of genius

The 1843 Magazine article The curse of genius, went viral. Every smart person regardless of politics can relate to feeling lonely, failing to live up to society’s inflated expectations for smart people, and having to deal with normies, who have average IQs, which could explain why it was so viral. However, the article presents a UK perspective of precocity, which is an important detail that was probably overlooked by the article’s mostly American readers.

Although the UK once had a rich intellectual culture and history and is birthplace of major scientists such as Hawking, Dawkins, Penrose, Freeman Dyson, and of course Issac Newton, it’s now more renowned for its celebrity gossip culture as chronicled by the Daily Mail and other low-brow tabloids and newspapers, and also Dr. Who, The Spice Girls, and other mainstays pop culture. The UK is not a particularly hospitable place for exceptionally smart people, but it’s a great place for horse betting and being a small time (or maybe not so small ) criminal. It’s been 3 years and they cannot even get Brexit sorted out. Just another example of how much of the rest of the world is closer to ‘clown world’ than America. People on the alt-right talk about America being the epicenter of cultural and societal dysfunction and decay, but it’s much worse in other countries.

The UK does not have America and China’s culture of intellectualism and entrepreneurism such as in Silicon Valley, New York, and Beijing, where smart people have high status and can potentially make a lot of money, but also higher taxes taxes and more regulation. This synthesis of intellectualism and capitalism and the importance of ‘rule of law’ is why China and the US have more in common culturally than even the UK and the US despite the latter being ethnically descended from the former.

Whereas the UK only has two top colleges (Oxford and Cambridge), America has 8 Ivy League institutions, in addition to Caltech, Harvey Mudd, and MIT. The UK has the GCSEs, which have pitifully low ceiling scores and do not test for exceptional ability. In New York or Silicon Valley, it seems trivially easy to form a classroom-sized group of children who are learning linear algebra by the 4th grade, but such talent seems exceptionally rare in the UK, which could explain some of the loneliness experienced by the subjects in the article. Whereas in America expectations are high for smart people, in invoking Einstein and the Manhattan Project, in the UK and its culture of mediocrity and idleness, no one cares that much.