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Top 10 Most Overrated People Who Have Ever Lived
Person list created by Kraven
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James D. Watson and Francis Crick are universally hailed by biologists as great geniuses for being the DNA co-discoverers.
So why is he overrated? Firstly, the data Watson and Crick used was collected by Rosalind Franklin who is basically ignored. Secondly, proposing a double helix structure for DNA given x-ray data requires little ingenuity or intelligence.
There are contributions that require little intellect but lots of ingenuity, there are contributions that require lots of intellect but little ingenuity, and there are contributions that require both intellect and ingenuity. This contribution however, doesn’t require neither ingenuity nor intellect, just simple observations.
If Watson and Crick didn’t discover the double-helix structure of DNA then virtually any other biologist(s) would have given the data. It’s a contribution based off simple observations that would’ve happened by virtually any biologist, not a special kind of contribution.
When people think of inventors Thomas Edison almost always come to mind. They probably think of a light bulb or a phonograph. He is a very celebrated figure in the media.
So why is Edison overrated? Edison has over 1000 patents but Edison bought many patents and was not the originator of many of the ideas. Edison had setup many different labs and had many others working on inventions. So the vast majority of Edison’s inventions do not independently come from Edison.
Edison was not even the first one to invent the incandescent light bulb. Edison and his team invented an improved version of the incandescent light bulb, many had existed before. Fluorescent light bulbs though are much more efficient and an overall better invention than incandescent light bulbs.
Other genius engineers like Nikola Tesla are almost ignored in the media.
Edison was not the genius inventor as portrayed by the media but instead a businessman.
This guy predicted everything. The only problem is that his writing is not a simple account of the future but rather poems that can be interpreted to match any event. And that’s what’s been happening. He’s far too popular and overrated than for what he achieved. Thankfully now only the History channel cares about Nostradamus.
Showing great forethought for anniversary organisers of the future, Charles Darwin wrote his most famous book when he was exactly 50 years old. On the Origin of Species (1859) is expertly argued, beautifully written and packed with convincing, meticulous evidence. But… Darwin did not invent evolution, his opponents were not all religious bigots insisting that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago, he avoided mentioning how life might have been created in the first place, and he did not include human beings in his scheme.
A sloppy collector, Darwin tossed unlabelled finches from neighbouring islands into the same bag to be sorted out later by somebody else; and while he was dithering about whether to publish, a young naturalist working in Malaysia came up with natural selection independently. The world, wrote Darwin, resembles “one great slaughter-house, one universal scene of rapacity and injustice” – but that eloquent evocation of the ruthless competition for survival was written not by Charles Darwin, but by his grandfather Erasmus.
Christopher Columbus set out to find a new route to India and ended up discovering the New World. That’s what we hear but all of it is not true. He wasn’t trying to prove that the world was round, as Aristotle had already known that 1800 years earlier. He wasn’t even the first European to land in the Americas. The fact is he thought he had landed in India and refused to believe that he had discovered a new continent till his death.
When non-mathematicians think of the best mathematicians Pythagoras likely comes to mind. Most non-mathematicians probably think Pythagoras was the #1 mathematician or close to #1, but mathematicians don’t.
In reality Pythagoras is not the best mathematician or even close. People like Newton, Euler, Gauss, Riemann, and many other mathematicians who are completely ignored in the media for their mathematical brilliance were much better much mathematicians than Pythagoras by far.
Euler and Gauss (the mathematicians that are arguably the two best of all time) are virtually ignored in the media. I wonder what things would be like if Euler and Gauss were mentioned in the media as much as Pythagoras is.
The Pythagorean theorem and a proof of the Pythagorean theorem are not difficult things to discover. There exists literally hundreds of different proofs of the Pythagorean theorem. Most of what Pythagoras and his students did are not difficult to discover or re-discover. Just compare re-discovering the Pythagorean theorem to rediscovering Euler’s identity and it’s easy to see which requires more ingenuity.
Even though it’s true that Pythagoras and his students made some contributions Pythagoras is still far from ranking within the top 10 or top 20 best mathematicians, which is why he is one of the most super-overrated figures.
Since the vast majority of Pythagoras’s contributions are easy to re-discover and since Pythagoras is synonymous with the word “mathematician” despite being far from the best mathematician he ranks as the 2nd most overrated genius.
It is true Mandela rose to greatness. Freed after 27 years in a South African jail, the anti-apartheid fighter emerged not bent on vengeance but healing.
He negotiated a peaceful end to apartheid, and as the first president of democratic South Africa, preached - and practised - reconciliation. In this he was great. A healer. An inspiration.
For many whites abroad, he seems even Christ-like - someone who'd suffered for the sins of white guilt, and absolved those who believed in him of the sin of racism.
But Mandela was no Christ nor even Gandhi nor Martin Luther King. He was for decades a man of violence. In 1961, he broke with African National Congress colleagues who preached non-violence, creating a terrorist wing.
He later pleaded guilty in court to acts of public violence, and behind bars sanctioned more, including the 1983 Church St car bomb that killed 19 people.
Mandela even suggested cutting off the noses of blacks deemed collaborators. His then wife Winnie advocated "necklacing" instead - a burning tyre around the neck.
Mandela argued the apartheid regime left him no option but to fight violence with violence, but it is too easy to claim events proved him right. His legacy is not yet played out.
Current president Jacob Zuma until recently still publicly sang the anti-apartheid song, Shoot the Boer, in a still-divided country where many white farmers have been shot.
Mandela's support for other leaders of violence is even less forgivable. He maintained close ties to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and backed Palestinian terrorist leader Yasser Arafat. As president in 1997, he gave his country's highest award for a foreigner to Libya's dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who'd donated $10 million to the ANC. He gave the same award to the corrupt Indonesian president Suharto, who he said had donated $60 million.
He supported Nigerian coup leader Sani Abacha, refusing to say a word publicly to stop the 1995 hanging of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
So who’s the person who’s so associated with the word genius that the image or thought of him comes in mind when the word “genius” is mentioned? It’s got to be Einstein.
Einstein is overrated for many reasons. Many people seem to believe that Einstein was a great mathematician. They probably saw on TV “E=mc2” and thought he must have been a great mathematician but in reality Einstein was not a mathematician at all. Mathematicians make mathematical contributions, Einstein applied already existing mathematics (in this case Riemannian geometry).
Another reason that Einstein is overrated is because many people think his ideas were original, but they were not. Einstein seems to have gotten a lot of his ideas directly from Michael Faraday, who Einstein was a fan of. Faraday who is ignored in the media tried to unify gravity with other forces long before Einstein. Faraday had long emphasized his belief that everything was unified as one (magnetism, light, gravity, etc…) primarily because of his religion. The main difference between Einstein’s ideas and Faraday’s is that Einstein added in the space-time dimension, but this idea is not original either since it had already appeared in science fiction novels.
Einstein is also overrated for being known by many as the smartest person ever. Some people have “estimated” his IQ to be over 200 (which is most likely impossible). People like Newton, Archimedes, Gauss, and others were likely much smarter than Einstein but they are not portrayed as such in the media.
Since the mathematics for General Relativity came from Riemann, a lot of Einstein’s ideas are inspired from Faraday, and for Einstein being so synonymous with the word “genius” he ranks as the 2nd most overrated person ever.
And The Award Goes To...
So who’s the most super-overrated genius of all time? It’s Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci is universally hailed as the greatest mind of all time. He is celebrated for his art, inventions, science, and being multi-talented.
Leonardo da Vinci is the most overrated genius of all time mainly because of the many outlandish claims made about how much of a genius he was.
Many different sources have “estimated” Da Vinci’s IQ to be over 200. This however is quite impossible. It’s literally impossible that Da Vinci had an IQ of 200+. Whenever asked for legitimate reasons as to how Da Vinci could of had an IQ of 200+ people will usually respond with an appeal to authority saying something like “this expert said so” or “this person said so”.
Da Vinci himself said “Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory”.
In order to correctly estimate IQ you have to estimate how well someone would be able to answer the most difficult IQ-style questions.
I know that Da Vinci’s IQ would not be any higher than 160 based on some simple observations:
– At least half of Da Vinci’s inventions failed when tested, this does not show high IQ at all
– Da Vinci tried to learn mathematics but didn’t really get very far
– Da Vinci was not a super-fast learner (the main sign of high IQ)
– Da Vinci’s works do not require a high IQ
Nothing Da Vinci did demonstrates that he had an IQ of 200 or higher or even close to that. Da Vinci is so overrated that people think his IQ was higher than Newton’s. But how could that be possible? Newton did things like solving the brachistochrone problem in a few hours, but what did Leonardo da Vinci do to demonstrate his intelligence? I would be surprised if Da Vinci had an IQ higher than 140.
Da Vinci’s inventions have also been grossly exaggerated. Da Vinci drew drawings and different people have personally interpreted some of the same drawings to mean different things. This has been the case with Da Vinci’s supposed calculator. Objectors once again claim this device wouldn’t actually work and isn’t actually a drawing of a calculator, but people personally interpret it to be so.
This is also the case with Da Vinci’s supposed helicopter. It’s not really a helicopter, it’s just an aerial screw. Helicopters are closer to Chinese bamboo toys than they are to Da Vinci’s sketches. The media and others simply overrated Da Vinci so much they decided to call it a helicopter (some how).
Da Vinci never actually built or tested most of his inventions and at least half of them failed when tested. The vast majority of the models of Da Vinci’s designs that really do work are modified versions of Da Vinci’s designs or strange interpretations of what Da Vinci’s designs mean. In order to get most of Da Vinci’s designs to work modifications are necessary.
The more people test out Da Vinci’s designs the more people find that his designs don’t work. What’s genius about coming up with failed designs? Basically anyone who has artistic talent, an IQ of 130 or higher, and spends all their time focusing on inventing new machines would be able to come up with lots of inventions (and having half of them fail).
Da Vinci being far ahead of his time is also an exaggerated claim. Da Vinci was born in the year 1452 AD, not the year 287 BC like Archimedes. Basically everything Da Vinci had done had been independently re-discovered without much effort by others within 200 years or less or had been done prior to Da Vinci. Since at least half of Da Vinci’s designs didn’t work I’m not sure how much it would have mattered if Da Vinci’s writings had been discovered much earlier. During Da Vinci’s time being ahead of your time didn’t take much.
Other much better engineers like Heron, Archimedes, Al-Jazari, and Tesla are ignored in the media.
Al-Jazari for instance pre-dates Da Vinci by more than 200 years, he invented one of the first programmable analog computers, camshaft, segmented gears, and more. His book is much more detailed than Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings, all of his designs work, and even though he pre-dates Da Vinci he is completely ignored in the media.
Or what about the super-genius engineer and mathematician Archimedes, who pre-dates Da Vinci by more than 1600 years. He is also ignored in the media.
Da Vinci is perhaps one of the greatest genius idiots of all time. For Da Vinci being so super-overrated that people think his IQ was 200+, for at least half of Da Vinci’s designs not working, for his inventions being grossly overrated, and for the media and many others super-overrating him he ranks as the #1 very most overrated person of all time.
There doesn’t even exist one other person in all of human history as overrated as Da Vinci.
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