If you are not strong, you have to be smart, the saying goes. That is of course not meant literally, strong people can certainly have a towering IQ, as you will see in one of the masterminds below. However, smartness is a highly valued feature nowadays. Our entire education system is built on the pursuit of smart people. The smarter the better. Remarkably, the German word schlimm (you pronounce it as a slam) means serious or serious. Older Dutch people sometimes use the Dutch word smart in this way. “It’s getting smarter,” my grandfather says, for example, and by that he doesn’t mean more intelligent!
That aside. In addition to smartness, measuring is also a fad of the past decades. To measure is to know, and for many years people have tried to measure smartness. Intelligence, to be precise. The most well-known attempt to measure intelligence, still in use, is via the intelligence quotient, or IQ. Because almost everyone today thinks of IQ when they think of intelligence, and vice versa, we have based our top ten ‘smartest’ people on these IQ scores. But because the formal IQ tests are only generally applied in the last century, we provide estimates for masterminds who have lived before that time. It remains a guesswork …
10. Leonardo da Vinci (IQ 180-190) and Albert Einstein (IQ 160-190)
Unusual, but tenth place is shared by two historical figures that everyone knows by name. Both have never done a formal IQ test, so the values are based on estimates. The German Albert was interested in physics, mechanics and mathematics, but is best known for his work in quantum theory. He was also awarded the Nobel Prize for general relativity (everyone knows the E = MC squared slogan). By the way, he turned 76 and survived two world wars. Albert’s IQ is estimated between 160 and 190.
Leonardo was born a little earlier, in 1452 to be precise. He barely limited himself to one area of knowledge; as a true “Renaissance man,” he was passionate about all branches of science. And all through self-study! He was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, inventor, technician, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. He too became old, for his time, 67 years. His IQ was estimated between 180 and 190.
9. Marilyn Vos Savant (IQ 190)
Personally, I am delighted to see that there is also (unfortunately only one) woman in this list. Marilyn is an American who was born in ’46. She has an IQ of 190, but you wouldn’t guess that from her job. She is a columnist, and also writes books and plays. For a while she had a column in which she solved puzzles that readers could send her. Marilyn’s IQ is officially recognized by the Guinness Book of Records, and she is officially the highest-scoring lady in the world.
8. Mislav Predavec – 192 IQ
After a short trip to the States we return to Europe. Mislav is a Croatian professor of mathematics at the University of Zagreb, and also the founder of the GenerIQ Society, a society for highly intelligent people. As if that is not enough (apparently not), he is also the founder and owner of a trading company. He also has a taste, he loves rock, Pink Floyd and such, and particularly appreciates the art of fellow genius Leonardo Da Vinci. For the computer nerds among us, Mislav plays regularly in Mafia Wars (an online computer game, lovely people, no real Mafia wars!).
7. Rick Rosner – 192 IQ
Return to America. The introduction stated that those who are not strong must be smart. Well, Rick Rosner doesn’t take a message here, he’s both. His resume is impressive, but not because of the difficult jobs, professorates or Nobel prizes. No, Rick has spent four years of his career as a bouncer in a bar. He was also a waiter on skates for a while (such things simply exist in America!). He has been a stripper and a nude model! But he is not satisfied with a score of 192. Instead, he practices day and night with IQ tests to improve his score. Maybe someday he may leave his seventh place and trade in for sixth. For the time being, however, the former archenemy of America, the Russian, is in that position!
6. Garry Kasparov (IQ 194)
Garry is a Russian who first saw the light of day in 1964. As a chess master he meets the stereo-type master brain. He is also an author and a political activist, but most people mainly know him as the ‘best’ chess player ever. By the way, he already started at the age of 11, so he has had ample time to practice. But on the other hand, not many people already win the Russian Junior Chess championships at the age of 13 (only one per year, to be precise). However, he is beaten by the super-chess computer, a huge calculator that can calculate over 200 million possible moves in one second! Well …
5. Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis – 198 IQ
A Greek, halfway through the list. And also a psychiatrist. However, Evangelos has diplomas in both philosophy and medical research technology, as well as psychological pharmacology. He is also a painter, and can do a reasonable job in the swimming pool. Art, if you can practice in the beautiful sea around Greece!
4. Kim Ung-yong (IQ 210)
We cross the 200 limit, and how ?! We also leave Europe behind, because Kim Ung-Yong comes from South Korea, born in 1963. As a half-year-old baby, Kim was already able to talk, and when he was three years old, when most children begin to understand one language, he spoke Korean, Japanese, German and English and could also solve complicated calculations. He also wrote poems, but “only” in Chinese and Korean. A year later, at the age of four, he already attended colleges at a higher level, and because of these magisterial capacities, NASA invited him to work for them at the age of eight. After having done that for a while, however, he returned to Korea and studied civil engineering. He has already published 90 articles about hydraulics.
3. Christopher Hirata (IQ 225)
Born in 1982 and finished at the age of 12 with university physics and mathematics. What to do next Simple, a year later, Chistopher won the International Science Olympiad. Like our number 2, he was recruited by NASA and worked for them on a space project to Mars. He was 16 by the way! Today, however, he teaches at the California Institute of Technology, in astrophysics.
2. Terence Tao (IQ 225-230)
Terrence was born in Australia in 1975, although he now teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles. He attended university mathematics courses at the age of 9 and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degree when he was 16. Most of us are still in high school and have not even chosen a university! At the age of 24 he was offered a full professorship, and has now more than 230 publications to his name! He is particularly concerned with the most difficult sub-domains of mathematics, because with an IQ of 230 you obviously don’t go for the ‘little ones’!
1. William James Sidis (IQ 250-300)
Our number 1 is again someone with an estimated IQ. After all, the IQ test was not even invented in its time! William James Sidis was born in New York in 1888. His parents, by the way, were Jewish Ukrainians, who fled their homeland because of Pogroms. The “rough” estimate of William’s IQ is somewhere between 250 and 300. What did he do to earn that estimate? He completed the grammar school (a rather technically-oriented high school of that time), where he went at the age of 6, within 7 months. At the age of 11 he went to Harvard, and at the age of 20 he spoke 40 languages fluently. However, that was not his specialty. His heart and soul lay in mathematics (that seems to be quite a repeating love with the masterminds from this list!). However, as a very young student he did not have it easy. Other students were jealous and started to make life miserable. He therefore went to an institution in Texas at the age of 17, but there too he was treated rough, rude or rude by older students. Moreover, he was bored to death here. He was arrested in 1919 for running a protest parade. His parents managed to get him out of jail, on the condition that he would live under their care for a year. This should help rid him of his atheistic and socialist “delusions.” But after ’21, William was more determined than ever to live an independent and private life without the help of his parents. He therefore worked as a simple handyman. All in all, despite his brilliant IQ, he has have failed to produce any real breakthroughs in science. And that while our numbers 10, with over 100 IQ points less, did.
Although IQ is often used as a measure of smartness, it is actually not entirely correct. What an IQ test measures is how well you score on the questions in the test, compared to the average person. We thereby assume that the questions in the test are an indication of someone’s cleverness. Usually it is true, people who are popularly called ‘smart’, score high on an IQ test. But let’s make it clear, IQ is not everything! Don’t forget the power of the right ‘friend’, a rich family, cunning, and appearance or inner beauty! A portion of common sense, it always works wonders, but everything in moderation!