Re: Eight-year-old physics genius enters university

From: justin corwin (
Date: Sun Nov 06 2005 - 20:07:46 MST

On 11/6/05, Maru Dubshinki <> wrote:
> I think I shall object to your characterization of Wikipedia's entry;
> I wrote and did some research for that article, and the anecotes as
> well. Of the 4 listed, #4 is doubly sourced (once in Wikipedia, and
> once outside it if you go googling), and the previous 2 derive from
> Weiner's own autobiography. #1 I do not know about, but even assuming
> uncharitably that it is false, a 75% accuracy does not render the
> whole section 'apocryphal' ("of dubious veracity", "of doubtful
> authenticity", "in the nature of an urban legend", "not canonical"),
> much less "particularly pointless"- would you have the Albert Einstein
> article not mention his place in popular culture?

It was not, in this case, my intent to attack Wikipedia, or even any
of the media that propagated this view of prodigies(with the possible
exception of The New Yorker). They are accurately conveying the public
record, I should think.

In this case, I'm using apocryphal in the greek 'hidden things' sense,
where I'm trying for a sense of after-the-fact stories intended to
characterize the subject aside from representative or historical
accuracy. I was unaware they came from his autobiography, which I
suppose alters my view of their inclusion a bit, but to clarify again,
my argument is not with wikipedia or the authors of that piece.

I'm using it as an example of the place he holds in general historical
review. I might object to the characterization of Albert Einstein
being a poor student and an enemy of the establishment because the
popular consensus these days is that he was, but I would not object to
reporting that people believe so.

It's true that Sidis withdrew from mathematical life. It's true that
Mozart was emotionally troubled. It's true that Tesla and Hughes died
victimized and neurotic in hotel rooms. These are facts, but they are
anecdotal, and do not constitute a trend powerful enough to generalize
to every prodigy or genius. Yoo-geun has more in common,
statistically, with all the 8-year olds that die of choking on
unfamiliar foods, and it's a much more pressing threat to his

Justin Corwin

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