Albert Einstein understood that intelligence is a choice.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein is often credited with this wonderful quote, but it may actually have come from a variety of different sources, which is quite fitting given its subject matter.
Let’s say you have an IQ of 100, you might argue that you are average and can not choose to be more intelligent. However, if that is your belief then you are already in the stage Einstein referred to at the end of the quote, “it will live its whole life believing it is stupid”.
A false belief has already been formed in your mind, most likely because too many times in your life you were judged, quantified, and measured incorrectly. Everyone is a genius, anyone can be as smart as Einstein.
It takes the right mixture of passion, direction, and focus but those are not genetic predispositions, they are environmental factors.
“The earliest evidence of a close match known to QI appeared in 2004, and that is decades after the death of Einstein in 1955. The self-help book “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose” by Matthew Kelly contained a chapter titled “Everybody is a Genius”
This appears to refer to an allegory called ‘antediluvian education’, intended to show the foolishness of trying to force people to learn things they don’t have the physical aptitude for. The whole thing seems silly now.
It also seems hard to see how it relates to humans at all with a distance of 50+ years of development in child education.
Perhaps one could justify the idea that everyone is a genius, and certainly, we shouldn’t castigate fish for not climbing trees. But I think the quote and Mr. Kelly misuses the word genius.
Some people spend years studying a field, a subject, or a skill and with sufficient practice, one could call them an expert.
Fish don’t climb trees because they don’t live in the air on land, humans don’t breathe underwater because we don’t live underwater.
If we apply that idea to learning and skills, we get iffy results. If you have a genius for the piano, certainly it seems a waste to spend all of your time learning the banjo.
Perhaps at best what we can take from this quote is that you should learn what you have a passion for, and then follow that path. But at the same time, you’re not a fish, so reevaluate any passion to learn to breathe underwater.
Throughout his life, Einstein published hundreds of books and articles. He published more than 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific ones.
On 5 December 2014, universities and archives announced the release of Einstein’s papers, comprising more than 30,000 unique documents.
Einstein’s intellectual achievements and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with “genius”.
In addition to the work he did by himself, he also collaborated with other scientists on additional projects including the Bose-Einstein statistics, the Einstein refrigerator, and others.
“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think,” — Albert Einstein
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