Interesting Facts

William James Sidis: The smartest person yet forgotten by people

William James Sidis, who was only 11 years old when he enrolled in Hardvard, finished his primary and secondary schooling in less than a year. He knew eight foreign languages by the age of eight and even invented his own language, "vedergood."

The most intelligent person to ever live was born in America in 1898. William James Sidis was his name, and he eventually had an IQ score that ranged between 250 and 300. (with 100 being the norm).

His parents, Boris and Sarah, had good minds of their own. Sarah worked as a doctor, and Boris was a well-known psychotherapist. Some accounts claim that the Ukrainian immigrants settled in New York City, while others identify Boston as their hometown.

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William James Sidis in 1914. He’s about 16 years old in this photo. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In each case, the parents were proud of their talented boy and lavished financial resources on books and maps to support his early education. Yet they were unaware of how quickly their beloved toddler would catch on.

A Genuine Young Prodigy

William James Sidis was able to read The New York Times when he was just 18 months old.

He could speak English, French, German, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, and Armenian by the time he was six years old.

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Boris Sidis, William’s father, was a polyglot and he wanted his son to be one as well. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sidis created his own language as a child, which is even more impressive (though it’s unknown if he ever used it as an adult). The aspirational child also wrote a novel, poetry, and even a proposed constitution for an eventual utopia.

At the tender age of nine, Sidis got accepted to Harvard University. He couldn’t enroll in classes, though, until he was eleven.

He gave a speech to the Harvard Mathematical Club in 1910 when he was still a student on the exceedingly difficult subject of four-dimensional bodies. For the majority of the audience, the talk was nearly incomprehensible, but for those that did, the lesson was a revelation.

Sidis earned his degree from the renowned institution in 1914. He was 16 at the time.

William James Sidis’ Unparalleled Intelligence

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The town of Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard University, in the 1910s. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As there are no known records of William Sidis having his IQ tested, historians of today are left to guess as to what it might have been.

For comparison, an IQ score of 100 is regarded as average, while one of less than 70 is frequently seen as low. Anything over 130 is regarded as exceptionally gifted or advanced.

Reverse-analysis of historical IQs has revealed that Albert Einstein had a 160 IQ, Leonardo da Vinci had a 180 IQ, and Issac Newton had a 190 IQ.

William James Sidis’ IQ was reportedly between 250 and 300.

Every intelligent person will be pleased to inform you that it has no meaning (though they will probably still be a little cocky about it). Yet, Sidis was so intelligent that his IQ was equal to that of three typical people put together.

Nonetheless, despite his intelligence, he had trouble blending in with a society that didn’t comprehend him.

At age 16, after he received his Harvard diploma, he declared to reporters, “I want to live the perfect life. Living in seclusion is the only way to lead the ideal existence. I’ve never liked crowds.

The boy wonder’s strategy succeeded about as well as you might expect, especially for someone who had been so well-known for such a long time.

He briefly served as a mathematics instructor at Houston, Texas’ Rice Institute. But he was nearly driven out, in part because he was younger than many of his pupils.

The smartest person in the world passes away quietly rather than with a bang.

When William Sidis was detained during a Boston May Day Socialist March in 1919, he temporarily courted controversy. He had committed neither of the crimes for which he had been given an 18-month prison sentence: rioting nor assault on a police officer.

After his run-in with the law, Sidis was resolved to live in peace and alone. He took on a number of low-paying occupations, like entry-level accounting. Yet as soon as he was identified or his coworkers found out who he was, he would leave right away.

He later complained, “The very sight of a mathematical formula makes me physically uncomfortable.” They won’t let me be alone, even if all I want to do is run an adding machine.

Sidis made his final appearance in the public eye in 1937 when The New Yorker published a dismissive story about him. He chose to file a lawsuit for malicious libel and violation of privacy, but the judge

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