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Genius 101 (Psych 101) Kindle Edition

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About the Author

Dean Keith Simonton, PhD, is distinguished professor and vice chair of the department of psychology at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of ten books and over 300 journal articles and book chapters on creativity, genius, leadership, aesthetics, and the history of psychology. His 1999 book, Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity, won the William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association. Simonton has also won awards from Divisions 1, 8, 9, and 10 of the APA as well as the UC Davis Prize for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. He is a past president of the International Association for Empirical Aesthetics and the Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. His work has received coverage in prominent media outlets, such as CNN, the Discovery Channel, National Public Radio, Newsweek, Time, The New Yorker, Fortune, and Business Week.

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dean Keith Simonton is widely recognized as a pioneer and leader in the academic study of genius, so this book is about as authoritative as one can get. My personal interest in genius stems partly from a feeling of awe at what geniuses in various domains have been able to accomplish, but mostly from a desire to "learn from the best" in order to improve my own performance in my areas of interest.

This book responds to the latter motivation more than the former, since Simonton is a careful researcher who avoids getting into speculations unsupported by convincing evidence. The result is that this book has a "scholarly light" feel, with the aim being to educate rather than entertain, but the material is inherently fascinating and Simonton has a very personable writing style, so I found this book quite easy and enjoyable to read.

Here are the key points I noted from the book:

(1) Genius is hard to define, but it tends to involve achieving something which is both original and highly valued. The difference between genius and "ordinary" high performance may therefore be more quantitative than qualitative.

(2) Manifestation of genius tends to be domain-specific rather than universal, although it's not uncommon for geniuses to attain some distinction in more than one domain.

(3) Various ways of measuring genius (psychometric, historiometric, etc.) tend to converge in their findings.

(4) Adult geniuses tend to have had high IQ as children and adolescents. Based on IQ, the definition of genius is somewhat arbitrary and fuzzy, but some would use 140 (top ~1%) as the cutoff, with 130 (top ~2%) to 140 being considered borderline genius.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Andersen on October 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I bought this book after hearing Prof. Simonton on the radio. After reading bestsellers by non-experts about the phenomenon of genius, I was happy to find in Genius 101 a balanced, moderate, and well researched expert point of view. Genius 101 is about how geniuses are defined, how they arise, what causes some people to be geniuses and not others, why they appear more in some cultures than others, and a host of other factors. Rather than take an extremist position on genius that it is all genetic, all environmental factors, or all zeitgeist (i.e. that works of genius are inevitable and luck the main factor), Simonton takes a balanced view that many factors go into the creation of a genius and backs up his claims with statistics and well reasoned, scientific arguments. I highly recommend this as a introduction to understanding the phenomenon of genius.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jc on December 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely great book, one of the smartest people (Simonton) breaks down throughly what qualifies many people through history of the world as creative geniuses. A great read, he talks about the divergence of people that can accurately assess and understand Mozart/Michelangelo versus Newton. Compares the factors that makes people geniuses. Explains why some people we may dislike in history, such as Hitler, may be qualified as geniuses. Very intriguing, recommended for anyone that is interested on creative people in the world.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stardust22 on April 23, 2014
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The biggest thing that bugged me about this book was the writer's ego. He likes to go off on a tangant that has nothing to do with the subject and shamelessly advertises his research and past books in every chapter. He mentions Harvard a million times and just doesn't seem to have much to say.
I got this on sale for $2, so it wasn't a big loss. Don't buy at full price! Overall, I wouldn't recommend this book.
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