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Who is truly the smartest person who ever existed?

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by Maximum7, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. Maximum7

    Maximum7 Chieftain

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    Whenever I Google smartest person, William James Sidis comes up and it says that his IQ was between 200 and 300. Yet when I read his Wikipedia page, their are a lot of disputes about his intelligence and say that many of them were exaggerated and false. Leonardo da Vinci is also cited as the most intelligent person of all time and that is more credible as he has tons more scientific and artistic accomplishments than Sidis. Yet, we will never know how smart he is because they really didn’t have the ability to test intelligence when he lived. Marilyn Vos Savant and Walter O’Brian are also said to have the highest IQ’s but they too are dubious and possibly exaggerated. Einstein seems like a contender as his brain was examined to be thicker in certain areas but obviously IQ tests are not reliable as he scored only 160 which is considered low genius. Finally, I once read that their was a Middle Eastern man who was tested with a more accurate scale that measured 7 types of intelligence and he scored a near perfect 198 out of 200. I forget his name.



    Anyway their are so many dubious claims to who is the smartest person to have ever lived and I was wondering if anybody has some evidence on a particular person who may be considered the smartest; not based on IQ scores or accomplishments; but instead quaila or a profound understanding of reality that is higher than any other person. Does anybody have any contenders. Their are no wrong answers. Just provide some proof?
     
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  2. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I have read a few chapters of Sidis' book on the idea and physics of a hypothetical reverse universe. He was (iirc) 16 when he wrote it, but already a university student. It is a very interesting book, although going from that alone I don't think one can claim he had an iq of... 270 or similar which is often claimed!
    And yes, he wrote many books, but isn't (to my knowledge) credited as an authority on any field. Not that this means much either; some people burn out or lose interest, which doesn't mean they weren't more intelligent than everyone else.

    I have also heard that supposedly Da Vinci had an iq of 180-200, and as you said he certainly left a lot more influential works.

    From math (and parts of physics) one can also mention Archimedes as a candidate. He even built war-engines which destroyed all attacks by Rome against Syracuse (the romans only won by taking the city from the side formerly protected by an allied city-state).
    I have heard stories about some other modern figures (from math and physics), but I haven't read as much about them to really comment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
  3. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Deity

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    People have gotten smarter as technology progressed by objective measurements. People score higher now on IQ tests than in the past supposing they take the same test as then. So maybe Elon Musk?
     
  4. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Isn't Musk a glorified Edison?
    (ironic that he named his car Tesla :) )
     
  5. Sarin

    Sarin King

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    On average, yeah. But IQ tests measure only a fraction of what we call "smart" or "intelligent". The increase could be traced to the fact that in most developed countries, almost everyone is exposed to significant intellectual stimuli from early age, and thus the intellect develops, like any other skill. However, since dawn of civilization there were people who could and did devote their lives to intellectual pursuits from early age.

    On topic of Musk, for all his supposed intelligence he demonstrated a significant lack of foresight by giving his kid a serial number instead of name, not realizing the impact it'll have on the latter's social life.
     
  6. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    "X Æ A-12" is a really terrible name. "Busy Beaver Champion" would have been cooler.
    Neither are likely to lead to an intelligence boost.
     
  7. drewisfat

    drewisfat King

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    Smart people don't make their children's name an unpronounceable inside joke. Smart people don't go on Joe Rogan just to get high. Smart people don't cost their company billions by being idiots on Twitter. Smart people don't insist on killing people on Mars because "moon base" sounds less sexy. Smart people don't start handing out flamethrowers because they're bored one day.

    We falsely correlate intelligence with either wealth or achievements. Those are very weak or even non-correlations. It's just all we have to go on. The actual smartest person is almost certainly someone alive today whose name you've never heard of and who doesn't have a noteworthy resume.

    Of famous historical people, my answer is Newton. He dabbled in everything. Most historical people are grossly overrated (Shakespeare, Aristotle, etc.), but Isaac was pretty legit.
     
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  8. Lemon Merchant

    Lemon Merchant Forum Buzzkill Super Moderator

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    The smartest person that I have ever heard about was a woman that I saw on the telly once with an IQ of 204. That was the entire reason that she was on the telly BTW, the show was doing something about smart people. It might even have been Oprah, I can't remember anymore. She was, however, really intelligent and they did a whole segment about her life and challenges. It was really interesting.
     
  9. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Why not?
     
  10. Joij21

    Joij21 King

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    I believe that the best of something is always a subjective matter determined by what the majority of observers believe to be true. Therefore the most intelligent person in the world would be determined by what the current majority of human global society believes is the absolutely most intelligent person.

    With that said, it would probably be Einstein or Stephen Hawking, since that is what the majority of people within society believe are the smartest people who ever lived. Since that's what the majority believes, that would be the ultimate definitive truth. All other forms of truth are entirely relative.
     
  11. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I don't think that is a good metric (popular opinion) :)
    I know that Einstein's work enabled stuff we now have, such as satellite-driven mapping (which you use with your phone), and he did write a number of important papers (on light and then on relativity).
    Hawking... was part of pop culture, but I am not sure if he actually provided anything which will last/be put to similar use (?)
     
  12. Joij21

    Joij21 King

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    Reality is based on perspective. However since no specific perspective can gain authority over the masses, the masses are therefore the default objective perspective in determining what is and isn't.
     
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  13. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Maybe :) I just don't see that as a working metric in the case of unusually high intelligence.
     
  14. PiR

    PiR Prince Supporter

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    Very interesting philosophical question :)

    I think we still don't. :)

    Not necessarily, being best at something can be defined by rules. For example "who is the best at running?" would apply to your statement. But then you can define better what you are looking for: "who arrives first after running 100m under certain conditions A, B and C".

    Well, I understand your reasoning but the person could be unknown to the majority of human global society - who would otherwise agree on giving that person the "smartest" title.
    So yes, if that person is famous, then it would work.
    But are intelligent people automatically famous?

    It's very possible the smartest guy on earth just chose to grow vegetables by himself surrounded by his family. - some people would agree immediately to that based on what they value

    Well, here we are talking about a long-lasting impact on human society.
    Maybe in North Korea most people would agree the smartest person ever was the leader of their revolution?

    I think there are different kinds of intelligence as mentioned in the OP and that makes it all the harder to find the smartest guy now (so it's even more difficult for smartest guy ever). Maybe yesterday it was measured by IQ, today it's measured by 7 types, tomorrow through another method... I was told (never checked thought) that IQ was actually designed and built to measure the person's capacity to handle well a cursus within an academic environment. Therefore my friend who had high-IQ humbly added, "well OK, but I'm pursuing a doctorate so that number just confirms that for me and nothing more".

    If we look a few centuries ago, a guy like Leonardo da Vinci was: an artist (painter, sculptor, poet, writer, musician...), but also what we could call an engineer in mechanics but also in biology (botanist, anatomist...), etc. He was on many topics. Today we tend to have people more focused on only one domain. Would intelligence be the capacity to be extraordinary in all domains?
    Another aspect is that he was thinking ahead of his time. So was Jules Verne from what I understand. It seems to be considered as intelligence to foresee technologies. Then can't we put as extremely smart people also the people who saw, for example, the end of slavery as the right path for mankind, when it was the norm everywhere?

    So I would say everyone could give a different answer to who has been the smartest guy ever, based on all those factors and what's important to them :)

    But clearly, with the hints of the criterias mentionned in the OP, Da Vinci would be a good candidate for me.
     
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  15. Joij21

    Joij21 King

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    You still proved my point. At the end of the day rules are things that the majority of people make up and agree to about how something is to be measured (unless it's a dictatorship in which the dictator can proclaim himself the smartest and make it a fact).

    Doesn't matter. If you don't prove yourself to the world your capabilities, than your no different than anyone else who chooses to live the simple life. Our society is based on proving yourself to be true to your word.

    If a person was really good at football (and maybe they are) and claimed they could beat Tom Brady (which perhaps they could) but never actually versed him in a game, then everyone would simply make fun of him and treat him like crap until he can prove the claim by actually competing against him in a real life game. Should he lose to Brady after making such a bold claim, then people would ridicule him even more and this person would become a public disgrace.

    Same goes for this humble smart person you describe. If he don't prove his intelligence publicly, than he ain't intelligent and would be nothing more than a joke if he personally claimed otherwise.

    Now you might not like this, but we do live in a society and these are the metrics by which society determines what is and isn't. It's all about action, people want to see action. Not talk, action.
     
  16. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I don't really agree with that, because intelligence (if anything) is degree of complexity (of thought or other internal phenomena). And since those are internal, they exist without any output (even when there is output, it isn't the complete picture).
    Now, I accept that if one has some ridiculously high iq, they are unlikely to never show any sign of it - but it is pretty easy to have a larger iq than others and be less known/do less stuff in the world/leave a smaller imprint.
     
  17. PiR

    PiR Prince Supporter

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    I would rather say experts or committee but anyway my point was that those rules can take the subjectivity out.
    Smartest is vague but if we defined more precisely which qualities, impacts on the world, etc. we want to consider as criterias, we can come to an objective answer... to a more limited question.
    Now of course for something as subjective as defining intelligence it will depend on what the observers consider important or not as criterias/rules for competition.
    But if we change the question for something very factual, then the answer can become objective.
    And the guy who asked the original questions gets a subjective point of view on what he asked, yes.

    Totally and respectfully disagree :)
    It needs to be proven to be accepted by many people, including you.
    It doesn't need to be proven to be true.
    If I say I have a coin in my pocket, I don't need to prove it to you for it to be true or not.
     
  18. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Didn't a bunch of people claim that Napoleon was the most competent human ever to have lived?
     
  19. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I doubt it. I do know that he once claimed he would become a great scientist in his years of exile - but obviously didn't.
     
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  20. Joij21

    Joij21 King

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    Yes you do. Perceptive reality and actual reality are completely different things, however we can only gain information of our reality through perception. If Quantum Mechanics is true, without perception the Universe doesn't exist at all.

    Facts are again things that people have consented to agreeing with as the truth. They are not absolute objective things and are nothing more than a human construct of the mind.
     

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