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jerryking : genius   17

Opinion | The Secrets of Jewish Genius - The New York Times
By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist

Dec. 27, 2019

** “Genius & Anxiety," by Norman Lebrecht.
An erudite and delightful study of the intellectual achievements and nerve-wracked lives of Jewish thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs between 1847 and 1947. Sarah Bernhardt and Franz Kafka; Albert Einstein and Rosalind Franklin; Benjamin Disraeli and (sigh) Karl Marx — how is it that a people who never amounted even to one-third of 1 percent of the world’s population contributed so seminally to so many of its most pathbreaking ideas and innovations?.....The common answer is that Jews are, or tend to be, smart. When it comes to Ashkenazi Jews, it’s true. “Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data,”.....the “Jews are smart” explanation obscures more than it illuminates. Aside from the perennial nature-or-nurture question of why so many Ashkenazi Jews have higher I.Q.s, there is the more difficult question of why that intelligence was so often matched by such bracing originality and high-minded purpose. One can apply a prodigious intellect in the service of prosaic things — formulating a war plan, for instance, or constructing a ship. One can also apply brilliance in the service of a mistake or a crime, like managing a planned economy or robbing a bank.........But...Jewish genius operates differently. It is prone to question the premise and rethink the concept; to ask why (or why not?) as often as how; to see the absurd in the mundane and the sublime in the absurd. Ashkenazi Jews might have a marginal advantage over their gentile peers when it comes to thinking better. Where their advantage more often lies is in thinking different.
Where do these habits of mind come from?

There is a religious tradition that, unlike some others, asks the believer not only to observe and obey but also to discuss and disagree. There is the never-quite-comfortable status of Jews in places where they are the minority — intimately familiar with the customs of the country while maintaining a critical distance from them. There is a moral belief, “incarnate in the Jewish people” according to Einstein, that “the life of the individual only has value [insofar] as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful.”

And there is the understanding, born of repeated exile, that everything that seems solid and valuable is ultimately perishable, while everything that is intangible — knowledge most of all — is potentially everlasting.
These explanations for Jewish brilliance aren’t necessarily definitive. Nor are they exclusive to the Jews......At its best, the American university can still be a place of relentless intellectual challenge rather than ideological conformity and social groupthink. At its best, the United States can still be the country that respects, and sometimes rewards, all manner of heresies that outrage polite society and contradict established belief. At its best, the West can honor the principle of racial, religious and ethnic pluralism not as a grudging accommodation to strangers but as an affirmation of its own diverse identity. In that sense, what makes Jews special is that they aren’t.

They are representational

The West, however, is not at its best. It’s no surprise that Jew hatred has made a comeback, albeit under new guises. Anti-Zionism has taken the place of anti-Semitism as a political program directed against Jews. Globalists have taken the place of rootless cosmopolitans as the shadowy agents of economic iniquity. Jews have been murdered by white nationalists and black “Hebrews.” Hate crimes against Orthodox Jews have become an almost daily fact of life in New York City. Jews of the late 19th century would have been familiar with the hatreds. Jews of the early 21st century should recognize where they could lead. What’s not secret about Jewish genius is that it’s a terribly fragile flower.
19th_century  20th_century  Albert_Einstein  anti-Semitism  books  Bret_Stephens  capitalization  genius  heresies  high-minded  human_capital  human_intelligence  IQ  Jewish  mental_dexterity  originality  outsiders  purpose  smart_people  talent  think_differently 
7 weeks ago by jerryking
Da Vinci code: what the tech age can learn from Leonardo
April 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Ian Goldin.

While Leonardo is recognised principally for his artistic genius, barely a dozen paintings can be unequivocally attributed to him. In life, he defined himself not as an artist but as an engineer and architect......History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. The Renaissance catapulted Italy from the Medieval age to become the most advanced place on Earth. Then, as now, change brought immense riches to some and growing anxiety and disillusionment to others. We too live in an age of accelerating change, one that has provoked its own fierce backlash. What lessons can we draw from Leonardo and his time to ensure that we not only benefit from a new flourishing, but that progress will be sustained? When we think of the Renaissance, we think of Florence. Leonardo arrived in the city in the mid 1460s, and as a teenager was apprenticed to the painter Verrocchio. The city was already an incubator for ideas. At the centre of the European wool trade, by the late 14th century Florence had become the home of wealthy merchants including the Medicis, who were bankers to the Papal Court. The city’s rapid advances were associated with the information and ideas revolution that defines the Renaissance. Johann Gutenberg had used moveable type to publish his Bible in the early 1450s, and between the time of Leonardo’s birth in 1452 and his 20th birthday, some 15m books were printed, more than all the European scribes had produced over the previous 1,500 years.

..as Leonardo knew, and the Silicon Valley techno-evangelists too often neglect, information revolutions don’t only allow good ideas to flourish. They also provide a platform for dangerous ideas. The Zuckerberg information revolution can pose a similar threat to that of Gutenberg.

In the battle of ideas, populists are able to mobilise the disaffected more effectively than cerebral scientists, decently disciplined innovators and the moderate and often silent majority. For progress to prevail, evidence-based, innovative and reasoned thinking must triumph.
.....Genius thrived in the Renaissance because of the supportive ecosystem that aided the creation and dissemination of knowledge — which then was crushed by the fearful inquisitions. Today, tolerance and evidence-based argument are again under threat.
accelerated_lifecycles  architecture  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  capitalization  cross-disciplinary  cross-pollination  curiosity  dangerous_ideas  digital_economy  diversity  engineering  evidence_based  Florence  genius  globalization  human_potential  ideas  immigrants  Italy  industry_expertise  Johan_Gutenberg  lessons_learned  Leonardo_da_Vinci  Medicis  medieval  physical_place  polymaths  observations  Renaissance  Renaissance_Man  Silicon_Valley  silo_mentality  tolerance  unevenly_distributed  visionaries 
april 2019 by jerryking
How to keep creative geniuses in check and in profit
March 10, 2019 | Financial Times | by Andrew Hill.

The story of how Eastman Kodak invented a digital camera in 1975 but failed to develop it is one of the most notorious misses in the annals of innovation. (It’s more complicated than that, but never mind.)

Polaroid, the instant-photo pioneer, took a slower path to the technology: its first digital camera appeared only in 1996. It filed for bankruptcy in 2001, 11 years before Kodak.
Polaroid’s founding genius, Edwin Land, could, though, have been first to the digital party. In 1971, as part of a secret panel advising the US president, he advocated digital photography, which the US eventually adopted for its spy satellites.
But Land was blind to the promise of digital cameras for the consumer.

This tale of failures of leadership, innovation and organisation is well told by Safi Bahcall, a physicist, former consultant and biotech entrepreneur, in Loonshots. There are four types of failure:
(1) Leadership failure. Edwin Land was guilty of leading his company into a common trap: only ideas approved by an all-powerful leader advance until at last a costly mis-step trips up the whole company.
(2) Innovation failure. Bahcall distinguishes between product-type and strategy-type innovation. Classic P-type innovators are the folks at innovation conferences conversing about new gadgets with less attention being paid to the analysis of innovative business models. Indeed, at some forums, P-type innovations also crowd the lobby. Delegates line up to try the latest shiny robot, electric car, or 3D printer.

(3) Organizational failure. Loonshots is based, refreshingly, on the idea culture does not necessarily eat strategy for breakfast. In fact, bad structure eats culture. Bahcall gives this a scientific foundation, explaining that successful teams and companies stagnate in the same way water turns to ice. A perfectly balanced innovative company must try to keep the temperature at the point where free-flowing bright ideas are not suddenly frozen by bureaucracy. How? Since the success of Bell Labs, companies have been told they should set up “a department of loonshots run by loons, free to explore the bizarre” separately from the parent. The key, though, is to ensure chief executives and their managers encourage the transfer of ideas between the mad creatives in the lab and the people in the field, and (the culture part) ensure both groups feel equally loved.

As for the assumption companies always ossify as they get larger, that risk can be mitigated by adjusting incentives, curbing office politics, and matching skills to projects, for which Loonshots offers a detailed formula.

Success also requires a special type of leader — not a visionary innovator but a “careful gardener”, who nurtures the existing franchise and the new projects. Though not himself an inventor, Steve Jobs, in his second phase at Apple, arguably achieved the right balance. He also spotted the S-type potential of iTunes. Even if Tesla’s Elon Musk is not losing that balance, in his headlong, top-down pursuit of loonshot after loonshot, he does not strike me as a born gardener.

Persuading charismatic geniuses to give up their role as leaders of organisations built on their inventions is hard. Typically, such people figure out themselves how to garden, as Jobs did; or they are coached by the board, which may install veteran executives to help; or they may be handed the title of “chief innovator” or “chief scientist” and nudged aside for a new CEO.

(4) They may find themselves peddling a fatally flawed product.
Bell_Labs  books  breakthroughs  business_models  creativity  digital_cameras  Edwin_Land  Elobooks  Elon_Musk  failure  genius  howto  incentives  innovation  inventors  Kodak  leaders  moonshots  office_politics  organizational_failure  organizational_innovation  Polaroid  product-orientated  Steve_Jobs 
march 2019 by jerryking
Why can’t we all be as productive as Picasso?
MARCH 28, 2018 | FT | Jo Ellison.

The year 1932 was a landmark moment for Picasso both personally and professionally. Having recently turned 50, the artist found himself feverishly experimenting with new styles and subjects as he reflected on his own contemporaneity and relevance. It was the year his marriage to Olga broke down, and the year in which a group of Paris dealers would mount his first ever retrospective.

Picasso’s “year of wonders” is obviously a cause for celebration — even if only for his astonishing output.
......As the New Yorker writer and critic Malcolm Gladwell so deftly pointed out in his 2008 book, Outliers, those who are blessed with the talent of a genius only become so after 10,000 hours of practice: the “magic number of greatness”. Debate has raged ever since as to the precise number at which the merely good become gifted, but Gladwell’s theory has always held a beguiling allure. If only I weren’t so appallingly lazy, I too might write a bestselling novel, or win a gold medal for figure skating, or fulfil my life-long dream of becoming a lead soprano in a West End musical. It’s always served as a peculiar comfort to know that the only obstacle to my success has been feckless indolence — and possibly the invention of the iPhone.

Which is why the Picasso exhibition was so grim. It wasn’t so much that he worked extremely hard to become the world’s most famous artist. Anyone could, technically, slave away in a studio for hours crafting their genius. It’s that he still found time to finesse such a gloriously well-rounded and fulsome life in the spaces he found in between.
Pablo_Picasso  Malcolm_Gladwell  artists  reflections  aging  genius  prolificacy  productivity  midlife  well-rounded  interstitial  personal_accomplishments  10000_hours 
april 2018 by jerryking
Review: New biography Leonardo da Vinci examines the archetypal Renaissance Man - The Globe and Mail
MICHAEL HARRIS
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 3, 2017

Da Vinci was the archetypal Renaissance Man, ignoring the borders of science and art. His promiscuous curiosity was – well, the stuff of genius......Isaacson argues that da Vinci is history's greatest creative genius and, given the evidence amassed in this 600-page work, one would be hard-pressed to argue.....da Vinci's genius springs from his disregard for categories. Whereas a visual artist today would be encouraged by a hundred confounding factors to "stay in her lane" and pursue visual art for its own sake, da Vinci would have been disgusted by such constraints. Science was no distraction; in fact, science fed his paintings.....da Vinci had a reverence for the wholeness of nature and a feel for the harmony of its patterns, which he saw replicated in phenomena large and small."......Da Vinci's was a world where life held knowable patterns. Dig deep enough, expend enough honest curiosity, and the mysteries of the universe began to unfurl. .....The book – as approachable as it is enlightening – achieves something similar; it inspires the reader to become more curious about the patterns underlying its subject – just as da Vinci was curious about the patterns underlying everything else.
biographies  books  book_reviews  creativity  genius  Leonardo_da_Vinci  Medici  patterns  pattern_recognition  polymaths  Renaissance  Renaissance_Man  transgressiveness  Walter_Isaacson 
december 2017 by jerryking
Biographer Walter Isaacson explains what made Leonardo da Vinci a genius - The Globe and Mail
RUSSELL SMITH
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 4, 2017

What we can learn from Leonardo constitutes the peculiar last chapter of this otherwise sober and cautious biography. At its end Isaacson moves from his role as historian into something closer to self-help guru. He lists a set of Leonardish attributes for us to emulate that sound a lot like advice to tech startups: "Retain a childlike sense of wonder… Think visually… Avoid silos… Collaborate…" Add this to repeated comparisons to Steve Jobs, a previous biographee of Isaacson's, and one is reminded that this is a very American biography (Isaacson was managing editor of Time magazine for years), one that sees "creativity" as primarily a corporate asset.
Russell_Smith  books  biographies  genius  Leonardo_da_Vinci  Walter_Isaacson  Steve_Jobs  polymaths  foxes  hedgehogs  renaissance  cross-disciplinary  cross-pollination  generalists  curiosity  creativity  collaboration  silo_mentality 
december 2017 by jerryking
To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old - The New York Times
Pagan Kennedy APRIL 7, 2017

Pagan Kennedy is the author of “Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World”

it’s easy for us middle-aged folk to believe that the great imaginative leaps are behind us, and that innovation belongs to the kids.

On the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that late blooming is no anomaly. A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers. Similarly, professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Hitotsubashi University in Japan, who studied data about patent holders, found that, in the United States, the average inventor sends in his or her application to the patent office at age 47, and that the highest-value patents often come from the oldest inventors — those over the age of 55.....The more I talked to Dr. Goodenough, the more I wondered if his brilliance was directly tied to his age. After all, he has been thinking about energy problems longer than just about anyone else on the planet.....“I’m old enough to know you can’t close your mind to new ideas. You have to test out every possibility if you want something new.”

When I asked him about his late-life success, he said: “Some of us are turtles; we crawl and struggle along, and we haven’t maybe figured it out by the time we’re 30. But the turtles have to keep on walking.” This crawl through life can be advantageous, he pointed out, particularly if you meander around through different fields, picking up clues as you go along. .... The tapestry reminds him of the divine power that fuels his mind. “I’m grateful for the doors that have been opened to me in different periods of my life,” he said. He believes the glass battery was just another example of the happy accidents that have come his way: “At just the right moment, when I was looking for something, it walked in the door.”
physics  batteries  energy  creativity  biases  patents  midlife  genius  aging  late_bloomers 
april 2017 by jerryking
How to treat expired geniuses
October 31, 2015 | FT| | Simon Kuper
We simply haven't found ways to treasure expired geniuses. Look, for instance at the media's treatment of Paul McCartney. As a Beatle, he was always being criticised. After his genius ran out, he got mocked for stumbles in love or for publishing silly poems. Few people could stand back and say:"This guy enriched our lives. Let him write a bad poem".
genius  howto 
november 2015 by jerryking
Creativity vs. Quants - NYTimes.com
MARCH 21, 2014 | NYT | Timothy Egan

"Creativity remains so unquantifiable, it’s still getting shortchanged by educators, new journalistic ventures, Hollywood and the company that aspires to be the earth’s largest retailer, Amazon.com.

An original work, an aha! product or a fresh insight is rarely the result of precise calculation at one end producing genius at the other. You need messiness and magic, serendipity and insanity. Creativity comes from time off, and time out.
Aha!_moments  Amazon  contemplation  creativity  creative_renewal  genius  insanity  insights  messiness  quantitative  quants  sabbaticals  serendipity  slack_time  timeouts  under_appreciated 
march 2014 by jerryking
Why Panic Passes Him By - WSJ.com
October 15, 2008 | WSJ | By PAUL B. CARROLL who reviews
The Snowball
By Alice Schroeder
(Bantam, 960 pages, $35)

Why Panic Passes Him By
All you wanted to know about Warren Buffett – and more.

While much of Mr. Buffett's methods can't be duplicated -- genius is genius, after all -- "The Snowball" usefully emphasizes a few core Buffett imperatives: taking a close look at an investment's intrinsic value, making a brutal evaluation of its risks, and calculating a margin of safety. The book also underscores the importance of learning from failures. The Buffett-Munger approach is to "invert, always invert. Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What's in it for the other guy? What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don't we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead."
Berkshire_Hathaway  book_reviews  books  Charlie_Munger  failure  genius  intrinsic_value  investing  investors  lessons_learned  margin_of_safety  off-plan  panics  Plan_B  post-mortems  risk-assessment  thinking_backwards  thinking_tragically  Warren_Buffett  worst-case 
june 2012 by jerryking
Science Teamwork Needed - WSJ.com
FEBRUARY 5, 2011 | WSJ | Jonah Lehrer. Sunset of the Solo Scientist
teams  science_&_technology  solo  breakthroughs  genius  collaboration 
february 2011 by jerryking
How College Kills Creativity; Nothing Succeeds Like Failure
November 21, 2010 | The Chronicle of Higher Education | By
Evan R. Goldstein. What does the life of a highly creative figure like
Henri Cartier-Bresson, pictured here in 1959, tell us about the nature
of genius? Look up Sudden Genius: The Gradual Path to Creative
Breakthroughs (Oxford University Press), by Andrew Robinson.
book_reviews  Colleges_&_Universities  creativity  failure  education  genius 
december 2010 by jerryking
Have you done your 10,000 hours? - The Globe and Mail
Margaret Wente

Published on Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 7:21PM EST Last updated on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009

"Outliers", if you have not. It's all about 10,00 hours of preparation and timing. Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.
Margaret_Wente  Malcolm_Gladwell  Success  authors  genius  talent  psychology  Outliers  books  10000_hours 
november 2009 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - Genius - The Modern View - NYTimes.com
April 30, 2009 | New York Times | By DAVID BROOKS

The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a
divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even
in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers
spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft.
It’s the ability to develop a deliberate, strenuous and boring practice
routine.
10000_hours  David_Brooks  dedication  education  genius  high-achieving  op-ed  overachievers  Pablo_Picasso  practice  preparation  process-orientation  psychology  rehearsals  routines  self-discipline  self-mastery  success  systematic_approaches  talent 
may 2009 by jerryking

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