Thursday, April 16, 2009

What does a Savant do for a living?

Financial Times:
Savant – the surname is real, it was her mother’s maiden name – has had a unique claim to fame since the mid-1980s. It was then, almost 30 years after she took a test as a schoolgirl in downtown St Louis, Missouri, that her IQ came to light. In 1985, Guinness World Records accepted that she had answered every question correctly on an adult Stanford-Binet IQ test at the age of just 10, a result that gave her a corresponding mental age of 22 years and 11 months, and an unearthly IQ of 228.

The resulting publicity changed Savant’s life.
...
When I asked her to describe how her mind approaches a problem, she said: “My first thought, maybe not thought, it’s almost like a feeling, is overview … It’s like, almost, a wartime decision. I keep thinking about all of the fronts, what’s supplying what, where are the most important points … ”

The curious thing, as The Browser observes, is "Why is the cleverest person in the world an agony aunt?" Is this the best use of her talents? Granted she still fields more math questions than Ann Landers, but she's become more of an advice columnist every day.

What really seems to have launched her is her explanation of the solution to the Monty Hall Dilemma. She wasn't the first to solve it, although the Financial Times makes it sound that way. If you're not familiar with the problem, you'll want to take a look.

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3 Comments:

Blogger DUBAI JAZZ said...

damn, the Monty Hall Dilemma fooled me. And they usually don't.

9:33 AM  
Blogger DUBAI JAZZ said...

my favorite savant is Daniel Tammet, who holds the european record of reciting 22,514 digits of pi, and who's also, believe it or not, an autistic.

10:20 AM  
Blogger DeanO said...

savant + autistic = not uncommon

in fact they are inextricably linked (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15225334)

there are some very very interesting savants with amazing capabilities in specific domains.

imagine the implications if we were able to unlock this potential in humans with minimal side effects?

8:05 AM  

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