How to Think Like a Genius

Statistically speaking, you’re not a genius. Sorry, man. But, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Some people have suggested that geniuses are born, not made, and there is certainly some evidence to support both sides. But, of course, there is some element of nurture in this equation. If it were just nature, then Lucy probably would’ve figured out solar power a long time ago.

So, what are geniuses doing that you’re not? Probably a lot. But there are a few things that you can learn from them to enhance your inner-genius. And, who knows, maybe you’ve got a ridiculous, game-changing, Earth-shattering, totally awesome, revolutionary idea cooking in your noggin, and these tips are about to unleash it.

Stephen Hawking 

Sitting down all day might help you to increase your I.Q. – rest is very important when it comes to critical thinking. But that’s probably not the deal with Hawking, since he’s got ALS.

Think like him: Stephen Hawking is perhaps one of the least surprising members of this genius list. Nothing about the way he thinks seems particularly outlandish at its most basic level. No doubt, he is naturally gifted, but he is also an extraordinarily hard worker. Consider than when he thinks of String Theory, he is “ashamed to admit [he] thinks of string cheese.” And, if that doesn’t work for you, consider this:

“It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years.”

Andy Warhol 

Andy Warhol was probably the second most eccentric genius on this list of genius. His nickname, Raggedy Andy, was a jab at his timid, unkempt, and (most of all) verbally ineloquent demeanor. He was a bad speaker, he was socially awkward, and was a hodgepodge of anxiety-based psychological disorders that, at the time, were not in the DSMV. He was also a genius and made millions painting soup cans that somebody else designed. How’d he do that?

Think like him: Andy’s fractured genius embraced a lot of things and he did it all in unusual ways. He, of course, ran his Manhattan studio, The Factory. He was a talented graphic designer. But he also was a fairly prolific if enigmatic filmmaker. His films made boring on purpose, not unlike his iconic, pop art Campbell’s soup can. He famously hung about with (and designed an album cover for) the Velvet Underground as well. So, if you want to stimulate your own brain, take a lesson from Andy Warhol and keep, like him, a lot of irons in a lot of fires.

Joe Davis

Joe Davis is known as MIT’s Mad Scientist, and that is a truly appropriate label. He is, on paper, a research affiliate with their Department of Biology, and is involved in the study of bioinformatics and new biological art forms. He is also one crazy dude, and, of the people on this list, the one without much commercial or cultural success (in the traditional sense of the word). Yet, those that know him almost all regard his as a genius, and, at least, there is something unique and interesting about how the twisted cogs of his mental machinery fit together. If you want to think like him – and we’re not convinced one way or the other as to whether you should – here’s how you might get started.

Think like him: To get us started, let’s consider some of his projects. He recorded the vaginal contractions of ballerinas in the Boston Ballet and then transmitted them into space. He implanted genetic information representing a map of the Milky Way into the ear of a transgenic mouse. He created an audio microscope that measures the light information refracted from a physical object then translates it into sound so you can look at something with your ears. He also Uses his self-made hollow steel peg leg to open beer bottles and to play a sort of hillbilly bugle on.

Why would he do all that? Well, because it’s interesting. When a reporter at asked him about each of his projects, Davis pretty much replies with some version of, “Well, I had this idea…” and then fill in the blank. He gives no rational or even artistic response for his actions. It’s like he’s doing some wacked out version of pure science and pure art. So don’t ignore your lonely impulses. While the hardworking Hawking can, indeed, yield results, you may also reap the benefits of being an intellectual car-chaser from time to time.