William James Sidis
IQ 250

William James Sidis was a child prodigy from the United States who excelled in math and claimed to be a multilingual speaker. His sister asserted after his passing that his IQ was "the very highest that had ever been obtained." Still, any documentation of any IQ tests Sidis underwent has been lost to time. He attended Harvard at 11 years of age and became fluent in over forty languages and dialects as an adult.

However, later, it was admitted that some of Sidis' assertions had been exaggerated. A researcher with 28 years of experience studying primary sources on various topics has reported: "Never before have I found such an abundance of lies, myths, half-truths, exaggerations, and misinformation than in William Sidis' history. Sidis first rose to fame for his early development and later for his eccentricity and exile from the public eye. He eventually stopped writing about math and began using various aliases to write about other topics.

Prodigies raised in a genius training regime are not necessarily synonymous with a happy life; the story of William James Sidis is an example. Learn about Williams James Sidis's IQ and his life through this article.

I. What is William James Sidis's IQ?

William Sidis' IQ has been the subject of numerous rumors over time. His IQ test results were never recorded, so modern historians are left to make an educated guess. William James Sidis' IQ was reportedly between 250 and 300. Any intelligent person will be happy to tell you that it has no meaning (though they will probably still be a little cocky about it). However, Sidis was so intelligent that his IQ was equal to that of three average people. Nevertheless, despite his intelligence, he had trouble blending in with a society that didn't understand him.

 William James Sidis IQ chart

Now, you might be wondering why Sidis isn't a household name like Einstein or Hawking if he was so intelligent. Why are most people unfamiliar with him? The answer to this query can be found in the somewhat peculiar life he led.

II. William James Sidis's IQ and his life 

William James Sidis, born in Boston in 1898 and living throughout his adulthood in Massachusetts, quickly became one of the greatest child prodigies and intellectual giants of his time in early 20th century America.

At an estimated IQ between 50-100 points higher than Einstein, he could read The New York Times by age two! At six, he already knew English, Latin, French, German, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, and Armenian - making him one of the youngest students ever admitted to Harvard and enrolling there at only 11 years of age!

William James Sidis IQ and his life

His parents were both extraordinary people; Boris Sidis was a well-recognized psychologist who had made significant contributions to psychopathology research, while Sarah Mandelbaum Sidis attended Boston University School of Medicine as a medical doctor. His parents were highly pushy because they wanted him to pursue knowledge alone. His mother lavishly spent cash on books, atlases, and other educational resources to support his desire to learn. Boris Sidis wanted to provide his son with the best resources for developing his capacity for logic and thought. Even as a young child, he engaged in discussions with William Sidis about psychology and other cutting-edge topics. Sidis, however, wasn't pleased to receive such preferential treatment from his parents.

1. William James Sidis Education Background 

Young Sidis was unquestionably a phenomenon of the mind. His early successes were on par with those of Johann Goethe, Thomas Macaulay, and John Stuart Mill. William Sidis could read English when he was two years old, and at four, he was typing original French content. He created a formula at the age of five that allowed him to identify the day of the week for any given historical date. He projected a brand-new logarithms table based on the number twelve at eight. 

He enrolled in Harvard at twelve and received his degree with honors before turning sixteen. His skills did not only lie in mathematics. He was fluent in reading and speaking French, German, Russian, Greek, Latin, Armenian, and Turkish at this age. The young man's "Fourth Dimensional Bodies" theories amazed students and scientists during his first year at Harvard University.

William James Sidis Education Background

2. William James Sidis's IQ and his Career

a. Living With His Genius

Living at Harvard was not simple. Although his academic performance was without question, William utterly failed in his extracurricular activities. His much older classmates frequently teased him because he had no interest in girls or anything related to social life. He nevertheless earned a magna cum laude diploma in 1914. He was 16. 

Soon after that, he relocated to Houston to pursue a graduate degree at what was then Rice University. While serving as a professor, he left within six months to return east - enrolling at Harvard Law School even though he never earned one of their law degrees!

William was arrested and given an 18-month prison term in 1919 for taking part in a socialist demonstration in Boston while still struggling to adapt to life outside of a classroom. Boris managed to keep William out of jail by sending him to a sanatorium in New Hampshire for one year; once released, he spent another year in California before returning East. There, he worked various unfulfilling jobs while writing self-published books and teaching part-time.

"The Animate and the Inanimate" was published to limited acclaim in 1925 by its publisher. According to their account, this work explored "the origins of life, cosmology, potential reversibility of Maxwell's Demon's second law, among other topics." William argues for the existence of what are now referred to as black holes. 

But by that point, the former boy genius had been branded a failure by the media. He hid himself from the public even more.

b. The Problems with Giftedness

William Sidis continues to be the most prominent example of a "failed" child prodigy. Education experts, the media, and regular parents of non-prodigies have criticized Boris and Sarah for being overbearing, overly focused on their son's academic performance, and underwhelmed by the responsibility of raising a well-rounded child. The debate over how to submit a gifted child and whether giftedness is inherited, as Boris and Sarah believed, or if the environment influences William's story still stokes it.

III. How did Sidis' intelligence come to be a curse?

Comstock's predictions, regrettably, did not come to pass. His biography sheds light on Sidis' time at Harvard and shows he struggled to lead an everyday life. In addition to the unfavorable media attention, he was frequently teased and mocked by other Harvard students. At 16, Sidis graduated from Harvard and then went to Rice University to work as an assistant professor of mathematics. He spent a year instructing college students while penning a book on Euclidean geometry. However, soon after leaving Rice University, Sidis became frustrated with his department and the disrespectful behavior of some students toward him. He then returned to Harvard to finish his law degree. Sidis spent nearly three years studying law before leaving college in 1919 for an unspecified reason.

After supporting socialist causes and marching in an anti-war demonstration led by communists in 2007, Sidis was arrested. Due to his fame among the media, his arrest made headlines around the country and resulted in him receiving 18 months imprisonment: six for rioting and one year for assaulting an officer - eventually, however, his parents managed to arrange housing at his father's sanitarium while working at MIT instead of going directly back behind bars.

He kept switching between jobs and names because he no longer wanted to be known as "child prodigy William Sidis." He wrote books, gathered streetcar transfer tickets, and even performed some unskilled labor that, for someone with his intelligence, could be regarded as highly lowly.

Intelligence is just one of the many aspects of being a human. The journey of William Sidis also demonstrates how the complexity of human life makes it impossible for intelligence always to ensure a happy life.


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William James Sidis

IQ 250


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