Story Of The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived 2023

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Albert Einstein had an estimated IQ of 160, Isaac Newton’s estimated IQ is 190, and Mark Zuckerberg’s IQ is 152. These famous men are known as absolute geniuses around the world. But there once lived a person whose IQ was said to be between 250 and 300!

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On July 13, 1944, William James Sidis’s landlord found him unconscious in his small Boston boarding house. He had suffered a massive stroke. And lay dying. William may have been the smartest person who ever lived. His IQ was somewhere between 250 and 300. To put that in perspective, Einstein’s was estimated to be 160.

William’s parents were brilliant Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. Boris Sidis was a renowned psychologist, Sarah Sidis went to medical school at a time when few women did. William – or Billy as he was known – learned the alphabet by six months of age. At 18 months, he could read the New York Times. He enrolled at Harvard University at age 11! When he graduated, William told reporters he intended to live the “perfect life”. But that would not come to be.

William’s parents

William James Sidis’s Early Life

William James Sidis was born on April Fool’s Day, 1898, in New York City. Violent anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine, which was then part of the Russian empire, drove his parents to the Promised Land, where they met when Boris tutored Sarah in English.

She encouraged him to go to Harvard, where he studied psychology and used some of his psychological principles to help mold his son. He said: “You know the old saying – ‘As the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.’ Parents cannot too soon begin the work of bending the minds of their children in the right direction…”

William’s parents attributed his extraordinary intelligence not to genes but to his upbringing. As a baby, they treated him like an adult. When he was a few months old, William’s parents placed food and a spoon in front of him. They let William observe, and he learned to feed himself. His mum recalled: “He squealed with delight. No one had taught him; he had reasoned it out.”

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This natural way of reasoning is also how his parents taught him how to spell. Instead of learning through memorization, William learned to spell by focusing on the underlying patterns and structures. For example, if he learned the word “BAT” using letter blocks, then he understood that modifying the word by, say, swapping out the “a” for an “e” would form a new word with a different meaning.

In the same way that he learned to spell, William learned eight languages by the age of eight by understanding the fundamental principles of language structure. Besides English, he knew: Latin, Greek, German, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, French, and Armenian. He even invented his own language as a child, Vender Good which drew on European influences.

Instead of reading him fairy tales at bedtime, his parents read him Greek myths, which helped him learn about the planets. Jupiter is named after the Roman god Jupiter which is adapted from Zeus in Greek mythology. Every moment was an opportunity to learn. William had no time for or interest in playing with toys. He didn’t play sports or any games at recess. His father thought such childish pursuits were silly and meaningless. For some reason, he had a tremendous fear of dogs.

William James Sidis’s High School

His only enjoyment was riding on streetcars when his parents took him to museums, libraries, parks, and zoos. He collected 1,600 streetcar transfers by the time he was in his twenties. William ended up finishing elementary school in less than one year, and high school in six weeks. His mom remarked:

“The newspapers never missed a chance to try and prove that he was insane, or psychotic, or simply a freak. In truth, Billy was a completely normal child in every respect.” The media attention followed him to Harvard. Where they portrayed him as a “know it all”, like in this New Yorker cartoon where he’s lecturing to a group of men. After entering Harvard at age 11, he gave a lecture to the Math Club about the fourth dimension, which is an extension beyond the 3D space we experience.


Here, he’s talking about shapes with many sides in the fourth dimension, which demonstrates his astounding ability to comprehend complex mathematical concepts beyond his years. I think you would love to know about Atomic Bomb Vs Nuclear Bomb Difference.

A professor at MIT who attended the lecture proclaimed: “I predict that young Sidis will be a great astronomical mathematician.” Yet, this never happened. In fact, he would grow to resent mathematics. Shortly after the lecture, he fell ill, which made all the news. The media reported that he had suffered a mental breakdown which was a rumor that dogged him his entire life.


He did live with his family on an estate in New Hampshire that was also the grounds of the sanatorium Boris was running. (Sidis Psychotherapeutic Institute) William only returned to Harvard several months later and never fit in.

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Sidis Psychotherapeutic Institute
Sidis Psychotherapeutic Institute

His biographer Amy Wallace described how he was: “A complete freak in the eyes of his fellow students, he had none of the social graces, no interest in sports or girls, and was several years younger.”

When he graduated from Harvard, he told reporters, “I want to live the perfect life. The only way to live the perfect life is to live it in seclusion. I have always hated crowds.” His idea of the perfect life is described in a paper he wrote utopian society called Hesperia.

Hesperia’s Constitution begins with: “We, the people”, reminiscent of the U.S. Constitution. But that was where the similarities end. In Hesperia, those who want citizenship have to pass an intelligence test. Marriage is forbidden, while polygamy is completely legal. Interestingly, children are not raised by their biological parents, and instead, “Male children shall be assigned to the charge of male guardians, and female children to the charge of female guardians.”

He rejected the influence of his parents, particularly that of his domineering mother. After leaving Harvard, he took up a position teaching mathematics at Rice Institute, now Rice University in Houston. He was 17 years old. Just like at Harvard, William didn’t fit in at Rice. Students teased him for never having kissed a girl. Girls faked crushes on him as a joke.

He stayed at Rice for only eight months and then enrolled at Harvard Law School in the fall of 1916. Then, for some unknown reason, he quit in his last semester and failed to earn a law degree. His mother was furious and would tell people that her son left his studies because Harvard Law had to shut down due to World War I, which was not true. gif maker 1

William was very much anti-war. He refused to register for the draft and nearly went to prison if it weren’t for the armistice of 1918 that ended the First World War. He was extremely passionate about politics. He was briefly jailed after leading a May Day rally in Boston, an anti-war, workers’ rights rally organized by the Socialists that turned violent.

Organized by the Socialists, which also conveyed a strong anti-war message. He rebelled against the capitalist system that propelled his parents from their status as poor immigrants to a position of success in American society. While in jail, he met and fell head over heels for Martha Foley, a 20-year-old Irish girl who grew up in Boston.


Despite telling the Boston Herald earlier that he vowed to remain celibate, saying,“ Women do not appeal to me.” After the arrest, he followed Martha to New York. They kissed, but Martha assured him there would be nothing more. William’s unrequited love may have affected the trajectory of his life.

William’s friend Julius Eichel said: “Sidis admitted that her love might have achieved wonders with him…” He carried a photograph of her in his pocket until the day he died. Martha went on to marry a writer and achieved notoriety for co-founding the literary magazine Story. When her memoirs were published, she briefly mentioned William in a single line, in which she called him “the famous and tragic prodigy who was the first boy ever to pay court tome.”

Despite his brilliance, William failed to achieve greatness. And any work that did show promise was overlooked. In 1925, he published a book that challenged the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the principle that the universe is headed toward “heat death” where all energy is evenly spread out, so there won’t be any energy left to power any processes.

In this state, nothing will move, change, or live. In The Animate and the Inanimate, he explored the possibility of reversing the universe’s direction. He theorized that living things could tap into a hidden source of energy to counteract the process.

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In The Animate and the Inanimate Book

In The Animate and the Inanimate Book

He gave an example of a ball bouncing down the stairs, which, when played in reverse on film, appears as if a hidden source of energy is pushing the ball up the stairs. He did acknowledge that his work was speculative and his theory has never been proven. But it was never taken seriously in the first place. It was ignored. There wasn’t a single review during its time.

He made headlines for being a boy prodigy and for his private life, yet no one paid attention to his academic work. He stopped writing about physics, math, and cosmology altogether.

While in New York, he took on menial jobs, including working as an operator in an office that was using an early mechanical calculator called a comptometer. The papers were all too keen to splash headlines about the boy wonder earning an average wage of $23 bucks a week. He hid his genius from his co-workers. When they found out who he was, he’d move on to the next job.

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He refused to accept higher-paying work in which he had to use his intellect. Once, he was offered a job with a railway company that tried to put him to work solving their technical problems. One of the officials later found him crying. William told him he couldn’t bear the thought of doing math. I think you would love to know about Top 10 Female Muslim Scientists, Beautifull, Great Womens.

Another time, a cousin needed his math skills to help solve a dental problem involving the alignment of teeth. He offered William $3,000, the equivalent of $55,000 today. It would have taken him two hours to solve. But he refused. William’s biographer concludes: “…he could not take a job of complex figuring without risking emotional and physical illness.”

His entire life had been defined by pressure to perform at a high level. At the expense of mastering basic life skills. He confessed to an aunt that he had never been taught to tie his shoelaces. His parents may have provided him with an exceptional education, yet they failed to teach him the basics of grooming. He didn’t shave regularly and wore a worn-out cap.

William James Sidis and his Browning

He reportedly didn’t bathe, or at least not often, and the stench was brutal. When his father suffered a stroke and died in October 1923, he never attended the funeral. According to William’s biographer, the reason was that he refused to see his mum. William hated the way she dominated him as a child.

They never reconciled. The Sidis didn’t raise their other child with the same intensity. William’s younger sister Helena did not get a formal elementary or high school education. Helena said that her dad had become so fed up with William that he didn’t want to educate her. She was also seriously ill as a child. Nevertheless, she thrived under the guidance of her brother, who taught her how to read and write, and she passed the entrance exams to attend university.

William and his younger sister Helena

In his thirties, William settled in Boston, again, doing menial jobs. The media had a hay day when they found out he was working as a lowly office clerk. An unflattering article in a Boston daily newspaper read:“ William J. Sidis, now thirty-nine, was once declared by a group of eminent scientists to be a coming innovator in the field of science, with potentialities as great as Einstein and as brilliant as Marconi.

Yet yesterday a Sunday Advertiser writer found him in a small room, wall-papered and dark, where for the past five years he has lived unknown, unsung, uncaring.” His health had also started to decline. He was overweight and had high blood pressure, which eventually caused a stroke. The kind that claimed his father.

On July 17, 1944, William James Sidis died of a cerebral hemorrhage which led to pneumonia. He was 46 years old. He was buried beside his father in New Hampshire. gif maker

Did William Sidis’ parents push him too far?

A faculty member at Rice University, where William briefly taught, disagreed. Dr. Guérard believes: “ He was the victim not of intensive education given him by his father, nor of the romantic curse called Genius, but of the thoughtless cruelty of the public.”

The New York Times once excitedly described William James Sidis as a “wonderfully successful result of a scientific forcing experiment and as such furnishes one of the most interesting mental phenomena in history.” As we now know, early success did not guarantee a fulfilling and successful life.

BrilliantIf William had experienced a different upbringing, the outcome of his life might have been entirely different. One thing that’s certain is his exceptional mastery of science and mathematics. William James Sidis has the World’s Highest IQ. Anywhere from 250 to 300 is his IQ score, almost twice the score of Albert Einstein. At the age of eleven, William famously entered Harvard University, becoming the youngest person to enter.

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