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Eccentric does not mean genius

Popular belief these days seems to hold the idea that eccentricity is a mark of genius or at least high creativity even to the extent of pretty much every entertainment out there depicts geniuses and highly creative people also as highly eccentric as demonstrated, for example, by Gregory House. This idea is so deeply rooted in our society that there are people out there faking eccentricity purely for the sake of making themselves look more creative as is demonstrated by many rock stars who often have music written and composed for them, but they act eccentric anyway just to make people believe how creative they are.

However this belief is false, there are certain correlations, of course, but not such as most people tend to believe there are. To tackle this question we should first and foremost define what eccentricity is and this is where it gets tricky. Everyone agrees that any behaviour outside the norm is eccentric, but just what is this norm? Most people don't act completely like one another which blurs the "normal" a great deal. So let's say "normal" is so and so wide, how far outside the norm can we go to avoid being simply weird rather than just eccentric? This is even less defined, to some Marilyn Manson is crazy, to many just eccentric, to some John Nash (as depicted in A Beautiful Mind) was weird and asocial, to some merely a tad eccentric.

So we find eccentricity is defined as being outside the bounds of normal, but still within bounds of mentally normal. What? It's a strange concept obviously. But let's look more into the correlation between eccentric, genius and creative. My understanding is that there is an eccentric (to a degree) inside all of us, it's just that most people are far too concerned with how others perceive them to ever act on those eccentric urges. They fear. Whereas geniuses, or merely very smart people, are at a higher level of understanding and simply don't care about what others think. They understand the only thing that matters is the end result and that if they achieve what they were supposed to, if they create, invent, develop, design, think, whatever nobody will really mind anything they do as long as it is within the bounds of the law.

On the other hand we have creative people who also act eccentrically, these are your average folks, not geniuses, who simply have a vivid imagination. With these, I believe, eccentricity stems more from the constant need of feeding that imagination, they get so absorbed in it they forget there were social norms they're supposed to follow. Also one has to consider how much a person' creativity rises if they simply live a creative lifestyle, if they do stupid fun things just to keep their creative juices flowing.

So, to conclude, I don't believe eccentricity is a mark of genius and creativity, I rather believe that eccentricity simply shows someone is a tad different; be it a higher intellect or higher creativity, such a person simply cannot be expected to follow the same behavioral patterns as the drones.

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Published on September 23rd, 2008 in food for thought

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