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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HoS Micropost: Polymaths are going extinct

Posted by Darin Hayton on 09/29 at 07:58 AM

The Last Days of the Polymath, in the on-line edition of Intelligent Life, claims that today’s few polymaths are poor imitations of those from days gone by. Unsurprisingly, most people lauded as polymaths are or were scientists first and polymaths second.

This article raises some questions about the relationship between polymaths and scientists:
Are scientists naturally brilliant? Are brilliant people inclined to be scientists? Do brilliant scientists, after they have done their important work (i.e., science), dabble in the trivial (i.e., non-science) activities?

Or is there some other selection process going on here, one that is predisposed to see scientists in a particular light and to view the past through halcyonic lenses?

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