We know these people are exceptionally intelligent and talented. But just how intelligent are they compared to each other? Here are 13 of the most intelligent geniuses in the world, or at least as far as two Western scientific studies had afforded us.
Estimating the IQ levels of people who had died centuries before a refined scientific intelligence benchmarking had been developed is tricky; but here we have two of the most often quoted studies: the 1926 Early Mental Traits of 300 Geniuses by American psychologist Catherine Cox, who computed the IQs of geniuses from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century; and the 1994 Book of Genius by English learning expert, Tony Buzan, who ranked a more encompassing 100 greatest geniuses of our world.
The disparity in their lists is evident. Buzan had Da Vinci at the top with an IQ of 220, while Cox gave the artist-inventor only 180 points. Still, it’s fun averaging the two lists to see who among these geniuses trump their fellow brainiacs in sheer IQ performance. Those who didn’t appear in the top twenty of both lists are automatically out of the game, but it’s not to say they are any less than intelligent than the people in this list (we can never tell).
Moreover, the list didn’t include twentieth-century geniuses such as Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Stephen Hawking. Likewise, you’ll note that these are European geniuses; hence, mind masters from Asia did not appear, too. Those things aside and without further ado, here they are: the most genius of geniuses and their mind-boggling IQ levels and achievements.
The English writer, poet, social critic. He is known for his literary masterpieces including Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield. He is also regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period, the time when England reigned supreme in the literary, science, trade and military world.
Yet another Renaissance artist made it to our list, the Italian contemporary of Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Raphael was a painter and architect, the third member of the trio great masters of the High Renaissance. His most famous works include the Mond Crucifixion, the Deposition of Christ, and the Transfiguration.
The English scientist who received little formal education. His works advanced the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, the precursor of the high technologies that we enjoy today. Testament to his genius, numerous scientific principles are named after him: Faraday’s law of induction; Faraday effect: Faraday cage; Faraday paradox; Faraday wheel; and Faraday wave among others. His research would make it possible for later inventions in electricity and current.
A Dutch philosopher. He was among the first to lay down the foundation of the age of Enlightenment that saw science challenged the status quo of the Church. The age led to great leaps in the fields of science, politics, and economics, spearheaded by among others, Spinoza’s magnum opus, the Ethics, which challenges the authenticity of the Hebrew bible.
Tied with the French philosopher is another Italian Renaissance man, the sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer, Michelangelo. Famed for his masterpieces, namely David, Pieta, Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgment, and The Creation of Adam. Many experts even argued he is the greatest artist of all time, a subjective account yet not without substance considering his contributions to the High Renaissance art.
A Dutch humanist, theologian, social critic. He was a strong advocate of religious tolerance during the Reformation age, when Catholics and Protestants were at each other’s throat. Using humanist techniques, he prepared a new batch of Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament, which would become influential materials during this tumultuous time. Although critical of the Church, Erasmus maintained his Catholic faith, believing the Catholic hierarchy could be reformed internally without the need to create an offshoot faith.
The French philosopher, mathematician, and writer. He is called the Father of Modern Philosophy because of his writings. Notably, the Meditations on First Philosophy is still a standard reference in universities around the world. He is also renowned for his mathematical contributions, specifically the Cartesian coordinate system and for bridging algebra and geometry that made the development of calculus possible.
The Italian physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher. He is best known for giving us the telescope. But that’s just a mere speck in his wide-reaching scientific achievements, namely the discovery of planetary objects such as Callisto, Galilean moons, Europa, Ganymede, and Io. He was also responsible for confirming through actual observation the heliocentrism nature of the solar system—the sun is at the center and the planets revolve around it—putting him at the crosshair of the Inquisition during his time.
An English philosopher and political economist. He is best known for his influential contributions to liberalism, the idea of individual freedom in contrast to unfettered state control in handling the economy. The Mill’s method is also widely used today to arrive at a conclusion via induction, a tool that lawyers and scientists have used in advancing their arguments.
The German philosopher and mathematician. He is regarded to have contributed to the development of calculus independent from Newton, notably his works, Law of Continuity and Transcendental Law of Homogeneity. He was also a prolific inventor in the field of mechanical calculators, making it possible for non-genius like us to calculate complex mathematical problems with the aid of this device.
The English physicist and mathematician. He is regarded to have developed much of calculus, the building blocks of today’s engineering feats. His Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy is one of the most influential scientific works, heralding the age of enlightenment when Europe burst into an era of advancements that gave birth to modern technologies.
The Italian Renaissance man. His genius spanned across science and art. Best known for his Mona Lisa, Da Vinci was actually more than an exceptionally talented painter. He was a mathematician, engineer, inventor, sculptor, architect, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He was the epitome of the Renaissance man, bringing to the world his wealth of knowledge to advance mankind’s fate.
The German poet, novelist, playwright, politician, and diplomat. He’s best known for his literary works, such as, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Sturm und Drang, and Faust. Although he’s best regarded as a literary genius, Goethe was also involved in scientific studies, particularly in the field of natural science. He had a wide collection of minerals as part of his extensive studies in geology.
These people might appear remarkable and rare, but genius is more prevalent than we imagine it to be. “Everybody is a genius,” so said Einstein, “but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
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