Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Serendipitous savant

"Real 'Beautiful Mind': College Dropout Became Mathematical Genius After Mugging"


  1. In other news: new college fad of slamming your head into a wall prior to taking your GRE.

  2. BTW, in my view, there are usually at least two or three parts to studying for any standardized test:

    First, you need to build a foundation of knowledge. Depending on the material, this could be slow-going, require a lot of note-taking, reading and re-reading, etc.

    Second, you need to be able to efficiently and effectively review the material you've learned. This could be based off of your self-made notes from the prior step. Or it could be thru a friend's or a group of friends pulling their notes together to review material. Or it could be thru purchasing review books. Or what not. Unless you're an awesome note-taker, it might not be best to rely solely on your notes for review. It's possible to miss stuff that's important. I'd probably recommend something like supplementing your self-made notes with friends' notes and review books.

    Finally, and most crucially as far as performing well on the actual standardized exam, you need to get to a point where you are doing tons and tons of questions which are as similar to the exam as possible in a setting which best reflects the actual exam or test setting. You can probably get sample tests from the company or organization that administers the standardized test. If not, then certainly commercial companies like Kaplan publish this sort of material.

    Anyway, this is just a rough outline.

  3. Of course, savants can skip all these steps and take the exam cold. :-)

  4. Just to clarify, my comment was intended as a joke. This guy gets his head beat in and becomes a math genius. Maybe the average college student would find an easier than cramming and cheaper than "smart pills".

    But I think you make good points except I've never found studying other people's notes very useful.

  5. Do you think that these supernatural abilities are innate in all of us and were somehow lost at the fall?

  6. Tabbet said:

    Do you think that these supernatural abilities are innate in all of us and were somehow lost at the fall?

    That's an intriguing question.

    Anything I have to say is purely speculative. As such, I could very easily be wrong and mistaken on several counts.

    1. I've also sometimes wondered if savant syndrome isn't an echo from the past. A sort of relic preserved in some people of what we might've been like prior to the Fall or in antediluvian days.

    Possibly related, we have accounts of many people living close to 1000 years old. Taken at face value, it would seem things were indeed different in the past with respect to the human body. At least for some (if not all) human beings.

    Similarly we have scientists like John Sanford and Todd Wood arguing for or along the lines of possible genetic decay in creation (e.g. here - I think Wood makes a very interesting point).

    Likewise neuroscience tells us there's a correlation (which of course is different from causation) between the brain and mind.

    If it's possible the human body was different, if it's possible creation itself is in a state of genomic degeneration, and if it's possible there's correlation between the brain-mind, then it's perhaps conceivable the human mind came through the physical medium of our bodies differently.

    If the mind is like a signal and the brain like a wire or cable or some sort of channel which carries the signal, then if the channel deteriorates it's possible the signal is affected as well. If so, then perhaps in the vast majority of people, the signal is dampened, so to speak. However, perhaps in some tiny minority of people, even with physical deterioration of the channel, sometimes the signal might come through even louder and clearer. In fact, maybe their brains and/or bodies have been so warped that, while they are muted in many other aspects of life, a particular portion of the signal instead somehow comes through with even more clarity or force or something.

    Obviously all this gets very thorny and tricky. I don't know what sort of genetic research (if any) has been done on savants. Also, it's difficult (not to mention controversial) for several different reasons to suggest our genes are somehow or in some way indirectly responsible for the mind or even certain aspects of the mind (especially if we mention intelligence). There could be so much more involved. And certainly other factors including our environment could affect our makeup.

    Anyway, there's a lot more to say about all this. I know I've barely scratched the surface.

    2. Maybe it's possible savant syndrome is a glimpse into what's possible for some or maybe even all human minds someday. Maybe in the world to come, when the curse is completely removed.

    3. BTW, another savant I've been impressed with is Stephen Wiltshire.

  7. Hyperthymesia (AKA superior autobiographical memory) is also very interesting.


    Here's a link to an episode of 60 Minutes that dealt with the topic


    Actress Marilu Henner has been diagnosed with hyperthymesia.