Today's burning question comes from Redditor CreativeBorder, who asked the online community: "Who was the smartest person you ever met? How did you know?"
Listen up. You might learn a thing or two.
"The top ranker..."
The top ranker from the university in India where I graduated. The entrance exam is by far the toughest in India, and he scored nearly full marks on it. He graduated with a CGPA that was nearly perfect, like 9.99/10. Went on graduate from Stanford with a PhD, was CTO in Vudu etc.
I have never seen such a quick mind. One the one hand he could do complex calculations in his head. On the other abstract concepts in math and physics would come so easily to him. In national level crossword puzzles he would be streets ahead of the rest of the competition.
And also a very very nice person.
"Would add another guy..."
Would add another guy from the same college, just a few ranks down the topper. He was so down to earth and funny in the four years I knew him I never realized he was one of the few gold medalists at the IMO from India, at a time where there was little or no training. He has now made Non-commutative Geometry his prime field of interest, and was with ETH Zurich for a while.
"Debate assistant coach..."
Debate assistant coach at my college. He was one of the best in his years debating, winning the Canadian National Championships. He had a way in speaking that was so damn concise but well obvious that he was extremely competent in what he spoke on.
I thought he was just your standard assistant coach until after our first tournament, where many students were approaching him as a celebrity and praising him.
It was almost intimidating to be around him as it felt that there was nothing you could say to him of value. He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet however and probably inspired me to continue debating until he passed away the following year.
"I don't know..."
I don't know the details like if he graduated early or whatever but in college a high school senior was in my Calculus III class. A little bit into the first class we noticed he wasn't taking notes, the professor even asked him if he needed a pen or something. He was a goofy awkward kid but kind of endearing, he said he didn't need to take notes and we all kind of laughed a little, the professor said well okay but I really suggest you take notes and continued the class. This kid never took notes, didn't even bring a notebook to class, but got 100% on every assignment and test.
I swear you could see him just absorbing the information, he would sit there fidgeting with his hands working things out. The professor would give us a problem on the board expecting us to take some time to work it out, the kid would stare at the board for thirty seconds, raise his hand and have the correct answer. The first few classes it was kind of annoying but then it became just impressive. I sometimes wonder where that he is now.
A classmate of mine makes links between ideas and texts and disciplines astonishingly quickly. We'll be in a tutorial and while I'm struggling to even get my head around the basic material she's asking questions which are PhD worthy according to the lecturer. Also she can break down complex ideas into tiny understandable parts for the rest of us average people.
"The best part..."Giphy
A friend of mine I met when I was his manager and he was a delivery driver. He was just there to put himself through school.
He was one of those computer nerds that just loved everything about computers as soon as he encountered one as a kid. He learned all the computer languages he could get a hold of. None of those "For Dummies" books. He was farrr beyond competent by the time he graduated high school and was obviously looking towards a career in the field. Even though he had the knowledge, no one was going to look at him without some sort of degree thus, the delivering pizzas to get through school thing.
As soon as he had the paper, he was snapped up by a relatively local company and went to work designing software technologies. He's since worked for various companies and makes a very comfortable living.
The computer bit isn't even the thing that makes him smart. I know a lot of incredibly smart people, including two legit geniuses. This guy just has a way of grasping what you say on an intuitive level pretty much as soon as you say it. This is the kind of guy who will never tell you he's got a high IQ or even bring it up. He doesn't have to. You couldn't talk with him for but a few sentences before it's obvious.
The best part is that he's also quite socially adept and hilarious in conversation; none of that "awkward genius" routine.
"Classmate in law school..."
Classmate in law school. Had a PhD in science with kids from great school. Got highest exam on bar, highest grades in law school. He was a very sweet person. The way he answered questions it was entirely obvious he was an absolute genius. He respectfully answered questions without coming across as a know it all. Everyone annoys me but this guy was an angel (a term one of his employers (my older cousin) used). Smart guy started a law firm and is kicking butt.
Not much compared to others, but two of my friends are really smart. One of them got a masters from Oxford University in advanced mathematics - they contacted him to offer him a place. He's a wealth management consultant in London now and married to a consultant anaethesiologist. Another friend was a chief financial officer for a bespoke holiday company at the age of 26. Super smart. I knew he would be successful when he memorised every special move for every character on Tekken as a kid and was unbeatable.
Not bad considering we're from a small rural town.
"Grew up in poverty..."
My dad. Grew up in poverty, won scholarships to top universities, studied engineering. So intelligent that he dreamed in mathematical equations. But so kind that everyone loved to be around him and most had no idea of the scope of his intellectual and professional accomplishments. He died two weeks ago unexpectedly. The literal international outpouring from his colleagues and childhood friends was astounding. I will miss him for my whole life.
"Sounds cheesy but..."
Sounds cheesy but my father. Used to hold the world record for the most top grades ever received (in the 80s Britains education system is different now) and once won all the subject prizes apart from one (at his school there were prizes for the person who received the top mark in each subject and the only one he didn't win was geography) and went to a top exclusive grammar school. Then went on to be awarded a full scholarship to Cambridge (the joint best university in the UK with Oxford) and got a job in a pretty high bank as soon as he graduated. However socially he is extremely awkward and was recently diagnosed as autistic which explains a lot of his personality as if it wasn't for my mother and his hobby of playing chess (which my mum pushed him to join a club) he wouldn't have any friends however my mum makes up for it.
"He dropped out..."Giphy
My grandpa. He dropped out of high school when he was 17 and was very much a basic blue collar man, but my god he was smart. I was struggling with a trig problem once when I was in high school and he just picked up the book, read the example instructions and solved the problem for me in 10 minutes and explained it to me. He also solved 100 levels of Unblock me in like an hour when I showed him the game for the first time. I always wondered what he could have done if he'd had the support when he was younger to go college.
"If years from now..."
My uncle. He's 'Good Will Hunting' smart. Never went to college but can solve any puzzle, work any math you place before him, fix cars, and has excellent recall. And with coke bottle glasses even in his 70s can shoot a bottle cap off a fence post with a 22 pistol from 50 yards away--first shot every time.
If years from now we find out he was some kind of CIA assassin I'd believe it. His intelligence is terrifying.
"By far the most intellectually capable..."
I had a 3rd grade student I was assigned to work with for 2 week's, but it turned into a 2 month job.
Kid was diagnosed with autism, and it was pretty severe and he had some strong paranoia and sensory issues that were never resolved because mom refused all forms of help. He would throw things if he got something wrong, anytime someone was laughing he thought it was about him, and he chopped his food up as much as possible because his preferred way of eating was for things to essentially be blended.
He also read at a high school level, was able to master any mathematic concepts taught to him (I think we got up to algebra and somewhat difficult geometry in my time with him, I'm no math whiz), extremely intuitive with languages and broke apart words into their smaller pieces based off of instruct (loved Latin for this reason), crushed any video game you put in front of him, and had absolute perfect pitch.
By far the most intellectually capable person I've ever met. I haven't seen him in years and I really hope the system/his mom came to understand his potential.
"Went to Harvard..."
My dad. Went to Harvard from a small farming town of 200 people, read more books about more topics than I could ever count, resume four pages long, but never, EVER treated a person like they were dumb or that he was better than them.
Could teach anything to any person of age and have them understand it without being condescending in the slightest. That's what made him smarter than anyone I had ever met.
"One of my best friends..."
One of my best friends who recently committed suicide. Brilliant interventional radiologist, trained at Johns Hopkins, good at EVERYTHING he tried! Memorized the lyrics to thousands of songs and quotes from hundreds of movies. Taught himself guitar and drums. Knew all there was to know about fishing and marine life. Amazing focus and observation skills. Also loved to party and enjoy life. I will miss him dearly.
"When I was treated..."
When I was treated for ALL at MUSC, I had a whole team of doctors. It was funny how many of the top doctors seemed to come from India though. My top doctor was also from India. The way I knew he was smart was because he was friendly, inquisitive, and I watched him get interviewed on 20/20 while I was being treated by him. He was apparently leading the fight against childhood leukemia.
Then I had a younger roommate 15 years later. He was also Indian. I knew he was intelligent because he lived with me in a very low income house in order to pursue his interests (robotics and tech) instead of his parents interests. (law and medicine) He had lots of friends, but chose to invest most of his time in projects he was working on and only allowed himself to go out and let lose about once a month. The best criticism he gave was that I reward myself too easily. Well he got invited into a tech group on the big island which he was a part of for a year and a half and last I heard he was moving to LA to pursue another group. He is in his early 20's and doing the wanderlust, finding himself thing, but on his own terms. What I mean is that popularity, money, his parents ambition, none of things have distracted him from his own goals which seem to be finding interesting possibilities in robotics and science and then following them as they impact the world in order to find out what he wants to do in a longer term sense. To me this was genius on a whole new level and though he's probably to busy these days to even remember me, I am certain that he will have an impact on our quality of life in some future sense.
"He was an artist, he was a surgeon..."
My grandfather. He had 4 doctorates and knew 10 languages (including Latin, could speak it fluently and knew all plants by their Latin names which today baffles me). He was an artist, he was a surgeon, a biologist and a mathematician. He did a test for intelligence when he was in his 60s and still today holds the record, of getting 98%. This test allows you to double your annual income ad a doctor if you get 50%. Which people study for 6months to a year for. (He didn't need to study and signed up spontaneously) I cant remember what the test is called but he literally won an apartment in a London high-tower for his score. Anyway enough bragging. I cant imagine having this kind of intelligence, you would feel so alone, no one to connect with. He would always say these things. Most people you meet are idiots about 1% are worth your while. Swimming is the best exercise, the government doesn't give a shit about you, and the banks and Mark's run the world. Always learn new things. Knowledge is the only thing they can't take away from you. And banks start all the wars. He also threw a clog at me when I was 9. I'm still confused if I like him or not. He passed in 2008, and donated his body to science, we only got his body back last year and he was cremated and his ashes lay with the native flowers of Belgium where he was born and raised.
"Many people my age..."
Many people my age just make decisions based on what comes their way, what inspires them, what they are feeling at the moment.
This fellow was in a similar situation as I, but made a career switch earlier than I. He was way ahead of his time, and even though we're the same age, he started his career switching course 5 years before I did.
I still think he's the smartest person I know. He plans ahead. He's human like us all and circumstances brought him to where we were 5 years ago, but he was able to decisively do the right thing while I took many years more to do the same thing. And I do consider myself smart as well.
His talk is full of wisdom and the reason why he's the samrtest person I know is because the second smartest person I know is mainly book-smart, but cannot interact with people, cannot plan his career, just good with grades and his ego affects him.
This guy a couple grades above me. He was always known for being smart, but this story made me think he was a genius. He had gotten into a pretty bad car wreck and he was in a fugue state for a while. He missed a lot of school and about 6 units in AP Biology. He shows back up on the day of a test. The teacher says he doesn't have to take it, but he does anyways. This guy realizes he studied for the wrong unit, finishes the test, and gets the highest grade in the class. He would also take AP exams for classes our school didn't have and passed them. Dude's a genius.
"Valedictorian of my HS class..."
Valedictorian of my HS class was a legit whiz at everything. Everybody was wondering what he'd eventually go into... equally good at math, science, literature, social science, maybe a slight edge on math. Ended up being a math professor at a PhD at a big university. I'm proud that I can just manage to explain he did his dissertation about injecting chaos into hard problems and making them more solvable. Soluble. Whatever.
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We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."
This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.