Who has the highest IQ in history? It's a more important question than modern society might make you think. You may not realize it by taking a quick glance at the pop culture material we collectively consume, but intelligence is the most highly valued human trait there is. Sure, sometimes the smart kids have it rough in school; athletics and popularity play a big part in perceived social status at such a young age. Fortunately, in the real world all people generally care about is what you can get done. Being of above average intelligence is therefore a massive advantage when compared to people who are living their lives at the top of the normal curve – comfortably average.
The importance of intelligence has sparked many debates on the subject, particularly determining whether intelligence is innate or developed. In other words; is intelligence an ability that can be nurtured and grown over time, or is it a seed that’s only planted in individuals who won the genetic lottery? This question has puzzled developmental scientists since the dawn of the field. In antiquity, the general consensus was that intelligence was an innate trait that some people had and others lacked. If a child didn’t demonstrate any noticeable ability from a young age then it was a foregone conclusion that he or she lacked the spark to develop true wisdom later on in life. In the modern era, that consensus was thrown on its head. Intelligence wasn’t an innate trait, but rather something that could be developed in any child so long as they were in the right environment and raised by the right people. People and environment that would foster learning rather than exploit or suppress it. After all, what good is intelligence to a society if their brightest mind withers in a bad schools or is raised by criminals - and goes on to create ransomware rather than pursue more humanitarian efforts?
In practice, we now believe the truth to be a combination of the two. Yes, intelligence must absolutely be developed over time and in the right conditions, but there are also genetic factors at play. It’s the reason why two children, raised in very similar environments by similar people, will inevitably have some variation when having their intelligence tested using the most common measurement available, the IQ (intelligence quotient) test. Although it may not calculate all the varying dimensions of intelligence (and is prone to cultural bias), there is certainly a correlation between high IQ scores and intelligence in action. These are the 10 highest IQs ever recorded.
10 #10 Stephen Hawking – IQ 160
9 #9 Albert Einstein – IQ 160-190
8 #8 Judit Polgar – IQ 170
7 #7 Leonardo da Vinci – IQ 180-190
6 #6 Marilyn Vos Savant – IQ 190
5 #5 Garry Kasparov – IQ 194
4 #4 Kim Ung-Yong – IQ 210
3 #3 Christopher Hirata – IQ 225
2 #2 Terence Tao – IQ 225-230
1 #1 William James Sidis IQ 250 – 300
William James Sidis is another individual whose exact IQ score is unknown. Experts have pegged his IQ somewhere in the range of 250 to 300, which would give him the highest IQ score in history. What did Sidis do to earn such an accolade? Born in 1898, he entered Harvard at the age 11 to study mathematics, which at the time made him the youngest person to ever enroll at the prestigious university. After completing his studies he began teaching, but found that the students in his class who were older than he was did not take kindly to being educated by what they perceived to be a boy. Because of his rapid rise through the educational system he suffered socially, unable to maintain close friendships. The rest of his life was marred by legal trouble after participating in socialist movements, and a stint in a sanatorium after his parents who attempted to reform his political views put him there. Upon his release in 1921, the troubled genius stepped away from mathematics and academics entirely, and lived a relatively normal life. He died at the age of 46 from a cerebral hemorrhage.
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