How do scientists differ from ordinary people except intelligence

    It is clear that learned people are superior to average citizens in intelligence. But another question is interesting: how is this intellect manifested, that is, in what other aspects of life do smart people differ from stupid ones? A study ( pdf ) from the University of Michigan suggests some conclusions.

    The purpose of the study was to compare the usual audience of the US population with scientists (members of the Sigma Xi society). In turn, ordinary scientists were compared with members of the National Academy of Sciences, that is, with prominent representatives of science, and with Nobel laureates, whom can be considered geniuses.

    The authors of the study traced how, with an increase in intelligence, the attitude towards crafts and “humanitarian” hobbies changes: manual labor, hobbies, drawing, literary activity, photography, music writing, theater performances, etc.

    Sigma Xi is a professional society where any scientist or engineer has the right to join. Hobbies and hobbies were determined by personal data.

    Information about hobbies and hobbies of prominent representatives of science and Nobel laureates was taken from autobiographies and articles about them. Only those cases were counted when the text directly indicated that the scientist is engaged in a specific type of activity. For example, what is playing on a specific musical instrument. Phrases like “a great music lover” did not count.

    So, with a certain degree of conditionality, we get a series: an ordinary person - an ordinary scientist - an outstanding scientist - a genius. In this series, at each stage, the average intelligence of the sample increases. What else is changing?

    Firstly, here is a chart that shows the differences between scientists and the average population. The percentage indicates how many representatives of this sample are fond of art, craft, music, performances in front of the public (perfomance), photography, and literary activity.

    The difference is quite serious. Scientists are three times more likely to play music than ordinary people. They are a little more often fond of photography. The most characteristic hobby of scientists, which sharply distinguishes them from ordinary people, is manual labor as a hobby, craftsmanship, and the manufacture of all kinds of crafts (crafts). Here, intellectuals are an order of magnitude superior to ordinary people.

    There are several areas that people with increased intelligence are less likely to do than the general public. This is art (painting, etc.), literary activity (writing poetry, etc.) and, especially, public appearances. For some reason, ordinary scientists absolutely do not like to go on stage as actors, although a lot of average people like it.

    However, if we add a sample of Nobel laureates, then the picture is radically changing. It turns out that people of genius sharply increase their propensity for almost all types of non-core activities, including the same literary activity, public appearances, painting, and more. In this sense, brilliant people are uniquely versatile personalities who are carried away literally by everyone. Literally every fourth Nobel laureate plays a musical instrument!

    If we completely average all areas of art and hobbies, a paradoxical picture develops. The average scientist is practically no different from the average person. But the more talented a person is, the more often an outsider hobby appears in him.

    Such studies are carried out not for the sake of idle curiosity, but to increase the effectiveness of scientific activity. For example, experts in cognitive sciences recently prepared a report entitled “Dual thinking for scientists”, where they are trying to formulate the meaning of the so-called left and right hemispheres in scientific activity. In their terminology, for physiological reasons, each person thinks in two ways: the “fast” uncontrolled and unconscious “first system” is responsible for intuition, and the slow “second system” of conscious thinking is responsible for reasoning and logic. According to experts, scientists are accustomed to constantly use only the second system. At the same time, the first system can help a lot.

    In other words, with the help of associative thinking, seemingly illogical intuitive actions, it is sometimes possible to make an important scientific discovery and find a creative solution to a scientific problem. There are many examples in the history of science that prove this.

    A telling story happened with the German chemist Friedrich August Kekule, who for a long time could not understand the structure of the benzene molecule with the “wild” formula C 6 H 6 . Once he dozed off in a chair in front of the fireplace - and he dreamed of a snake that bit its tail. The scientist woke up with the brilliant idea that a benzene molecule is twisted into a ring! Previously, no one could have suggested such a thing.

    To increase work efficiency, experts recommend that scientists and people with creative mental work practice actions that look like procrastination from the side. For example, aimless walks (preferably not planning a route in advance), hobbies, bathing, excessive sleep, and so on.

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