As far as most people know, Albert Einstein is the smartest man that ever lived. And why would you believe otherwise?
Einstein's theories are on relativity are very popular, and his contributions to the real world are still evident today.
Oh, and he also had an estimated IQ of 160.
But then, Isaac Newton is estimated to have had an even higher IQ score of 190. A modern-day genius like Mark Zuckerberg has an IQ of 152.
But There Once Lived A Man Named William James Sidis, With An IQ Of 260
William was born to Russian immigrants in 1898. They were intellectual refugees.
At only 18 months, he could read the New York Times.
William was an outstanding mathematician, and he was an amazing author. At only 8, he was fluent in 8 languages including Latin, Greek, German, Hebrew, and even Armenian.
He had even come up with his own language by this age, which he called Vendergood, not to mention that he had also written four books by then.
And his genetics were partly the reason he was so smart. His father, a renowned psychologist, had 4 degrees from Harvard; and his mother was a medical doctor.
In short, his parents were geniuses, and his unusually high intelligence was expected. However, he ended up being off-the-charts smart with an IQ of 260.
To put this into perspective, Einstein was 100 IQ points below him, and Isaac Newton was still 70 points shy of this astronomical figure.
But Why Don't We Hear Of Him More Often?
Once his extraordinary intelligence became apparent, his father tried to have him join Harvard at only 9 years of age.
The application was rejected 2 years later, but he still became the youngest person to join the prestigious learning institution.
While the institution agreed his mental abilities qualified him for undergraduate work, it believed he was not emotionally mature enough for the responsibility.
Things went just as expected: he was doing exceptionally well in his studies. A year later, in 1910, he was already lecturing his mathematics professors. But he also suffered a nervous breakdown.
Seclusion, Menial Jobs, Prison Sentence
Once he had graduated from Harvard, William wanted to live a perfect life. According to him, that meant secluding himself.
He also made another drastic decision not to get married.
William took a position as a math professor at Rice University, but he could not withstand the ridicule he got for his young age and he quit after nine months.
It was obvious he was growing sick of the attention he was getting for his intelligence. He was trying to get away from it all.
In particular, he blamed his father for pushing him so hard and applying his psychological theories on him. The relationship between them was so bad that he did not even attend his funeral in 1923 after he passed on.
People who want to keep a low profile, unfortunately, don't usually enjoy the pleasure of well-paying jobs.
William Sidis ended up taking clerical jobs, but people could still spot him, at which point he would find another job.
At one time, he ended up in the news after reporters discovered he was doing a job that earned him $23 a week. In the story, they also mocked his intelligence and suggested he was not as smart as he was when young.
In 1919, William was arrested for taking part in a protest and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, his parents kept him out of prison. Instead, he ended up spending 2 years in their sanatorium.
The Sad End Of The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived
It is worth noting that although William was working menial jobs, he was still writing books under a pseudonym.
But the fact that he was estranged from his family and struggled to make a living in addition to leading a lonely life made his life miserable.
However, he is noted for having written a book that predicted black holes.
At 46 years of age, he died without having achieved much despite his incredible intelligence. He died from a cerebral hemorrhage, just as his father did when he was 56.
But for most of his life, William was running. Running from his parents, his popularity, and the larger-than-life destiny his amazing intellect had bestowed upon him.