The Common Character Trait of Geniuses | James Gleick | Big Think

The Common Character Trait of Geniuses | James Gleick | Big Think

I’m tempted to say smart, creative people
have no particularly different set of character traits than the rest of us except for being
smart and creative, and those being character traits. Then, on the other hand, I wrote a
biography of Richard Feynman and a biography of Isaac Newton. Now, there are two great
scientific geniuses whose characters were in some superficial ways completely different.
Isaac Newton was solitary, antisocial, I think unpleasant, bitter, fought with his friends
as much as with his enemies. Richard Feynman was gregarious, funny, a great dancer, loved
women. Isaac Newton, I believe, never had sex. Richard Feynman, I believe, had plenty.
So you can’t generalize there. On the other hand, they were both, as I tried
to get in their heads, understand their minds, the nature of their genius, I sort of felt
I was seeing things that they had in common, and they were things that had to do with aloneness.
Newton was much more obviously alone than Feynman, but Feynman didn’t particularly work
well with others. He was known as a great teacher, but he wasn’t a great teacher, I
don’t think, one on one. I think he was a great lecturer. I think he was a great communicator.
But when it came time to make the great discoveries of science, he was alone in his head. Now,
when I say he, I mean both Feynman and Newton, and this applies, also, I think, to the geniuses
that I write about in The Information, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Ada Byron. They all
had the ability to concentrate with a sort of intensity that is hard for mortals like
me to grasp, a kind of passion for abstraction that doesn’t lend itself to easy communication,
I don’t think.



  • Mohd Saqib

    U also consider urself a genius 😁

  • River Todd

    Why is the world a shithole with so many genius… All Bullshit.

  • Mike Fuller

    My IQ is 180! 1 / 3.5 Million.

  • butthole and also nipple

    i am am infiltrate intellect smart person

  • Rocky Tablason

    Best people are crazy

  • Chris Zablocki

    A. Get exploited by socially adept capitalist or the government.
    B. Play poker.

  • InteryCreeper

    analyzing the replies to this video message has made me conclude that the key to being a genius is not abiding to peer-pressure..
    thanks, after all these people told me to do so, I will ignore others.

    yes, I will not ignore others and ignore others.

  • imobeus1

    The common character trait in geniuses…is that they're geniuses. Boom.

  • Jose Diola

    i think im a genius..
    of getting bullied and friendzoned..

  • panda007

    Isaac chose not to get laid. This explains his grumpiness.

  • Enea Pane

    Marie Curie?

  • Crinan the Thane

    You are my perspiration…..

  • Matthew Nelson

    The Smartest Person that ever lived : (

  • Donaldo Mac Eachen

    Now we have a shitload of socially retarded (and probably generally retarded) people thinking they are geniuses

  • Graham Wellington

    I don't think he was being fair to Newton. Never mind putting this Finyman (whoever he was) in the same sentence with Newton. It's the idea that he speaks so critically of him like as if it's just a given that Newton was a miserable scoundrel towards about everyone and it's settled and needn't be questioned.

  • Araniel Official

    When I'm in a creative rush, I can't finish almost until fatigue in a turbo af mode and most people I know get along with me superficially, but when they see my processes, I'm a freak!

  • Svante Ylvinger

    Concentrate really hard on the problem you are trying to solve. Take longer walks thinking only about how to solve it. "Live with the problem" for quite some time. Do not interact socially with others since it is an distraction. If you are lucky your brain will then eventually solve the problem while you are sleeping so make sure to write down the solution when you wake up.

  • Williamtipq

    Today’s famous “intellectuals” have 0 accomplishments.
    da Vinci intelligence is extinct.
    Forget that level, there are great inventors, and innovators today, but they certainly are not cultural figures.
    Famous intellectuals of today are unaccomplished dorks who debate religion and nonsense like that.
    Jaque Fresco is dead
    I think a lot of his ideas could have been too easily abused in the wrong hands, but he was undoubtedly one of the greatest minds until his death.
    You’ve never even heard of Kevin Hay, some Canadian modern Tesla.
    There’s this one Asian dude who invented the floppy disk. . . That guy is fucking inspiring.
    That might be the closest thing to da Vinci intelligence left, along with a few other inventors, and silicone valley fucks no one has ever heard of.
    Guarantee no one has ever heard of them.

  • Divine Zoomer

    Just remember you don't need to be a genius to be a great person. or even to go down in the history books.

  • Alexandra Ledesman

    In my sociology book, it points out a study that found out thinking by yourself yields better and more creative results in less time than participating in brainstorming with other people. It's just that most people tend to enjoy working with others more and therefore perceive their results more favorable when they work with others.

    I've never liked study groups or group projects for this reason. I learn faster and better on my own. I only like group study if I don't understand anything.

  • Kronus

    Thank you for stroking my ego, now I can say I'm lonely because I am genius and not because I'm boring as hell and can't carry a 5 minute conversation

  • TheGodEmperorofMankind

    So I am more like Newton, interesting lol

  • arnob chowdhury

    Everything was a match till he said something about concentrating deeply.

  • hoastbeef

    You know, this can all be simply explained by saying they had Asperger's Syndrome.

  • billy osullivan

    Im gay dabo dee dabo die.

  • Alfonso Cantu

    So Newton Was A "Shelton Cooper"..But The Other Guy Was A Very "Smart Tommy Boy"..Luckiest Of All To Be A "Marine Corps Grunt"..That Can Dizzle You With My Brilliants And Baffle you With My Bull Shit..An If I Can Not Convince..I Will Confuse You..Because We Have Been Doing So Much..With So Little…For So Long..That We Can Do Anything..Without Nothing..Yours Very Truely L/CPL Alfonso Cantu USMC

  • b j

    he looks stupid

  • justmadeit2

    If you can be happy, have peace of mind and don't suffer depression then you are a genius in my book

  • Francine Arriada

    I hate people but I love people. 😝

  • Johnny West

    The first step to Genius is to reject stupidity like Equality, Diversity, and Tolerance. Then continue from there.

  • yousifmq

    How do you even make such videos in which people speak but tell you nothing at the same time? It is such a talent to be honest, Disliked

  • Yetzirah Mihael

    According to Jungian Psychology
    Both Newton and Feynman had Intuition as a dominant cognitive function, but in different orientations.

    Newton had the following cognitive structure
    Dominant Ni: Subjective Intuition (Perspectives, insights)
    Auxiliary Te: Objective Thinking (Effectiveness, Inductive Logic)
    Tertiary Fi: Subjective Values (Authenticity)
    Inferior Se: Objective Sensation
    Other INTJ's: Friedrich Nietzsche, Nikola Tesla, John Nash.

    Feynman had the following cognitive structure
    Dominant Ne: Objective Intuition (Possibilities in the outside world)
    Auxiliary Ti: Subjective Thinking (Internal Logic Structure, Deductive Logic)
    Tertiary Fe: Objective Values (Interpersonal Harmony)
    Inferior Si: Subjective Sensation
    Other ENTP's: Leonardo Da Vinci, Socrates.

  • Tomislav B

    They where both narcistic and self-centred

  • alpha sting rat

    Loneliness . Intellectual loneliness but not physical loneliness. My biggest problem is I'm aware of this and have come up with multiple end results all end up pretty much the same .

  • Arisu Tsukiyama

    Intelligent people don't usually fit in,nand are often solitary.

  • Bnelen

    Geniuses are like the rest of us. It's their ideas that are interesting. Not trying to be insightful here.

  • Cookies and Cream

    Genius is are me I yam.

  • Games Cooky

    So basically if you live in solitude, you're a genius.
    That's the summary of this video.

  • Luke Solomons

    Dont look for answers…just become and the answers will find you!

  • 4c00h

    Even the need to feel unique is not unique.

  • dogs aren't dangerous

    Could listen to this guy talk for hours.

  • Optimus Phoenix Prime

    I'm always in my head 🕵️‍♀️ Dmass LoL
    Why me and technologies hyperDigi

  • Nina Willow

    Hmm…"INTJ Dyslexia" lead me here.


    Dyslexic people are the smartest, 👍

  • joelmgarton

    Being smart and creative aren't character traits. That's like saying being white is a character trait. Character is changeable and influenced by societal mores. Intelligence is genetic. It is stupid statements like that that make geniuses avoid common people.

  • Art Munio

    Feynman is very far from Newton😅

  • EVIGT IMMXRTALISERADE • 7,000 years ago

    Why are we so retarded. Honestly, we know fucking nothing and we likely never will. All we know is a fraction of a fraction of what is possible, and we will never reach that level. It's taken us more than 5,000 years to discover how to effectively fuse the hydrogen atom with efficiency. Its pathetic. We may never know and the answer is right in front of our ignorant faces.

  • Lee Turner

    sex with themselves maybe!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Yuhua

    I macht all the trayts , I is genious.

  • Johnny Blaze

    Are we all possibly narcissists

  • Michael Alexander

    I am an INFJ personality type and IQ 157…. we need to time out from people and it is then that we get very creative…so I can relate to what he is saying…well done

  • Leandro de Oliveira


  • Leandro de Oliveira

    Being a genius don't change de fact that we all will desappear…and the time will erase everything you know..

  • Plebian Bargain

    Sometimes you just get so alone it makes sense

  • Mspaint Art

    Very hard to understand geniuses. Only they know and feel what goes on in their minds.

  • John Pickup - CDHS

    In a world where people generously suck, the simpleton human, lacking the desire for their company, considers himself a "genius".

  • garderobert

    Dont skip school kids. 🖖

  • SC EM

    “Full of self”

    God’s inconvenient Truth: God told us specifically of this time. Be not surprised. Go see it for yourself.

    2 Timothy 3 King James Version (KJV)

    3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

    7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  • Alfredo Hernández Lara

    Not having a mullet?

  • Rhuth K

    We as humans would be able to concentrate because we have the power to. unfortunately, that power is reduced by social media which has only made us have the attention of a squirrel. We have lost the power to focus and concentrate on one thing for a long time due to our ficklemindedness. Our biggest creation is the reason why we are losing who we are as humans. It's making us more and more prone to simple things in life and things around us, therefore we never take a keen look into the depth of something. Our curiosity and ability to think, has decreased because of how simple it has become to find answers by just googling it instead of working or thinking to find the answer or solution to a certain problem.

  • Filipenko

    damn i can relate to these geniuses so much which means im a genius too. yes i came to that conclusion using my genius intelligence and reasoning!

  • moe al

    everybody is dumb in a way. in a dumb person way yall Don't have l the facts that makes you kinda dumb but I do deserves not even to be known..

  • Kick butoxy

    Isaac Newton is still head fucking us with his theories 😒

  • Kc Cooper

    I just search this up bc I took a test and my IQ is 124

  • Pedro Takahashi Gunderson

    i'm an excellent driver

  • Ally Cindy Abbaren

    Society is Changing, and most people today doesn't know what life really is.

  • CessPool Ω

    Take note on how he speaks. Notice how he thinks about what he is saying while he's talking and takes his time. This is how a well read person communicates.

  • Gilberto Hernandez

    im not genius cause i had to look at the last comment to spellit. I will say this, I have a lot of both. I get along with every one and love to tell jokes. at the same time i like to be alone. i think im smart but i also think im dumb. and i sometimes think that i must be from another place. i dont care for grammer as long as i can get my point across. but rarely i do. can you relate? And i searched am i as smart as i think i am? i cant find something to help me tone it down and just be like all the rest. one of the most intresting inventions to me is how wipers on an auto work. it is crazy!

  • Snee Zee

    go ahead, make my day

  • Snee Zee

    grow up

  • Damani Dorsey


  • Doss Dawson

    I em a genius,

  • Xander Smith

    this guy is comparing Newton to Feynman lol

  • Kono Dutch

    Yeah he's like a genius…. I need to study.

  • Sopho Nax

    Hm. A bit shallow, no?
    The title of the video was promising.

  • rafaeln21

    This guys is a genius
    I am gonna wait till he is dead then I am gonna write about him

  • Wesley Williams

    I feel so alone. I feel like no one gets me at all. I’ve always tried to be social but most never really got me.

  • spongebog ssj

    Oh no Ian dumb

  • dumbcreaknuller

    nobody nowdays are even close to the iq of newton, tesla, alexanderson, galileo and edison. what we have now are celebrits like dawkins, daniel dannett and others. the new ones are just dog food material. to be the star in the show of bullshit is what is now a hype of the media. i hardly find anyone of the media showbiz industry of scientists intelligence other than average. a real genius is one that could make flying cars and force fields. this person would not seem very intelligent among others as he does not reflect the masses ideas of intelligence. only average people think those slightly above average in iq are geniuses. if the person was 3 times as smart as average he would been seen as a utter moron for doing things that does not make sense to the average person and must be done because of stupidity. i wish there was more people like newton and less people like idiots. newton was in some sense way byond average in iq as myths to him was not read like a person with learning disability like the norm in a higher sense of functioning. my point, lets say math, a person is told how many apples that fred gave to linda. a retard brain would wonder what did linda need apples for instead of reading the example as numbers. newton read myths like he chould. other people read myths like retards. they read the myth as a story rather than a riddle. newton read the myth as a riddle for alchemy and created some of the ancient alloys of the ancient alchemists. this would been impossible if he head read the myth like a retard. newton was in some sense way smarter than me. iq is a spectrum. tests only look for math intelligence and not other types of cognitive skills. we are all geniuses in somthing but most anything else we are stupid as hell.

  • ebw343

    On December 20, 1997, Gleick was attempting to land his Rutan Long-EZ experimental plane at Greenwood Lake Airport in West Milford, New Jersey when a build-up of ice in the engine's carburetor caused the aircraft engine to lose power and the plane landed short of the runway into rising terrain.[18] The impact killed Gleick's eight-year-old son and left Gleick seriously injured.[19]

  • DJB 2007

    I think i am so genius because until now i dont do anything..and alone..

  • Rajeev Kumar

    Except for Newton n Euler..I don't think there were any other genius

  • slamtimeson

    nothing will ever match your own, the one true key i have noticed, people that are extraordinary or considered so at certain things can conceptualize past their peers, how far past a thought can you look, any thought. how much farther down the thought process can you progress, the wall you reach is your wall, until it isn't anymore, explaining brilliance is a foolish notion, mainly because that is a subjective view.

  • david schlorman

    wait issac newton was a VIRGIN ??? WHAT THE….

  • Rajan Paudel

    How do i become genius? I am practicing much but gained 0 out of it

  • Laila Dobb

    I am quiet smart and creative and a antisocial yet still quite social yet still doesn’t work well with other. But they could be my Autism?

  • MLG no_scoper rekt

    I don't believe that all things we know today were invented by those that are believed to have. For example, someone else long ago in an isolated village could've invented the concept of gravity, but was shunned as someone who was crazy. Then possibly killed. Impossible to know

  • RedbullAddict

    I love how everyone is pulling out big boy words to make them seem more intelligent in the comments lol

  • Tommy Wolmart

    ENTP vs. INTJ, duh…

  • Hordur Valsson

    Another thing we often do, is complain about the excessive lack of IQ amongst highly educated people. If you’re a psychiatrist reading this, I’d be stunned to find out that your IQ is higher than 60-70. Following a script like a parrot does not under any circumstances equate to being of much use, except for as a government approved dealer of strong narcotics.

  • Propaganda Slayer

    Being a genius means being alone and miserable.

  • Max Alcheev

    we are looking for a vocalist for a heavy band

  • Muhammad

    I a genius. I can retaliate tot his.

  • Augustine

    Aloneness sure seems to be a common trait among the great geniuses.

  • aniokay

    I searched for entp bored and found this. I am still bored…

  • Propaganda Slayer

    A geniuses greatest fear, is for his potential and talent to never be recognized, no matter how much he tries, or is completely unable to excorsize his great mental capacity beyond basic necessity.

  • Richard Feynman

    I approve this.. 👍

  • melissa saint

    Genius as a special category aside, growing up exceptionally bright and creative (unless you grow up in an environment full of equally bright, supportive and emotionally available loved ones) is an isolating experience– I suspect more so before the internet.
    Even a modestly gifted person, with, say, an 20 IQ points above average, has probably grown up surrounded by people whom they eventually found were noticeably less intelligent. They may have interests and passions that arent widely shared by those around them. They might be ridiculed for their differences, depending on their social skills and environment. But even if they arent, it can be a lonely way to grow up.

    The greater the gap, the more powerful the potential effect.

    Growing up like that can have a damaging, isolating effect. It can make you arrogant, or misanthropic, or emotionally withdrawn or hesitant, or it can make you the kind of person who presents a dumbed down persona to the world to avoid hurting others or being rejected.

    The internet has made things different, you can now find peers and people who share your interests more easily, no matter who you are. Though, it can also mean a broader, more anonymous audience to reject outliers for being nerds,
    and a broader and apparently dumber hoi polloi to help foster arrogance and misanthropy 😞
    I guess it would take a series of studies to find out whether highly creative and intelligent people who were born after, say, 1990
    Feel less alone than those born before?

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  • cheemsburbger

    i think im like partially retarded but also like a super genius, what do

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