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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Big Question: How Should We Treat Anti-Geniuses?

Posted by Alex Falcone on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 9:59 AM

[Fake editor's note: Alex has a B.A. in philosophy which qualifies him to be a couple things: a Subway sandwich Artist and pedantic. In this series, he uses the latter power to ponder some of today's most troubling moral questions. -Nobody]

Haters are right about this one.
  • Haters are right about this one.
Every story about a genius involves disproving doubters. Eight publishers passed on Harry Potter. Michael Jordan didn't make his high school basketball team. The princess wasn't in the first 23 castles Mario jumped onto.

But some people aren't geniuses, and they also face rejection. Numerous publishers refused to publish Rich Shapero's book Wild Animus; it's the worst book ever written. Like Michael, I didn't make my high school basketball team; I still can't hit a three pointer to save my life. Mario's cousin Sorryo has never saved a single princess; when you play as him, you just run headfirst into battle with a dinosaur that murders you [citation needed].

Are we, as a society, morally culpable for the continued misery that anti-geniuses like Rich Shapero, my jump shot, and Sorryo face for our near constant rejection? Haters are, by definition, gonna hate. But that doesn't mean they're always wrong. By telling people to ignore hateful feedback, are we only putting off their inevitable realization that they suck and by doing so, making that realization much more painful?

Personally, I think the larger hazard is in losing great works from geniuses that quit too soon, so we should continue to encourage people to ignore negative feedback. But once they reach the Gladwellian threshold of 10,000 hours, they should be forced to quit. Perhaps we can form an anti-genius parole board that monitors repeat failures and makes sure they don't put pen to paper, hand to ball, or frog suit to video game character again.

In exchange, we could promise to reign in haters and make sure failures receive no further negativity. But as soon as they're caught near a self-publishing website, the haters are called back in.

That's just one genius's opinion. What's yours?

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