On the Difference Between Being Smart and Being a Genius

“Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them”
-Albert Einstein

Many a smart and diligent intellect may apply itself to the resolution crisis. It is to the avoidance of such that true genius lies.

On Cautious Optimism

“The stakes are immense, the task colossal, the time is short. But we may hope — we must hope — that man’s own creation, man’s own genius, will not destroy him. Scholars, indeed all men, must move forward in the faith of that philosopher who held that there is no problem the human reason can propound which the human reason cannot reason out.”
-Albert Einstein

It is too easy to view world events and abandon hope. We’re all doomed!! 

But not only is hope possible, it is required – a mission and a duty for all caring human beings – for finding a way out of the mess we have made.


On Tolerating Freedom – A Crisis in American Culture

“Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.”
-Albert Einstein

Law, after all, is an expression of the human mind, not, necessarily, of the human heart.

As much as Congress seems intent on weighing in on matters beyond its control – from MoveOn.org to Rush Limgaugh – it serves no purpose than to engender intolerance. A muddling of what freedom of expression really means – a sign of the times.

One or the other may be repugnant (and in fact, one is – the one that smokes a cigar – but that’s just my opinion).

Freedom of public expression does have its limits. But those limits should never be any one ideology’s – or idealogue’s –  comfort zone.

Freedom hurts. Get over it. Not everybody is going to be just like you. Or me.

Thank God.





On the Rarity of a Truly Open Mind

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
-Albert Einstein

Even the most enlightened among us are, for the most part, products of their environment and the society in which they live. Maintaining an open mind and forming unbiased opinions is not only very difficult, it is the rarest of commodities in an increasingly divisive world – whether it left vs. right, rich vs. poor, or one “true religion” vs. any other.


On Thinking About Change

“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”
-Albert Einstein

It has been called the true indication of madness: doing a thing over and over and expecting a different result. And so it is in expecting solutions to the problems that plague us to derive from a mentality that fostered the problems in the first place.

It’s an insane world. Nothing will change that until we change the way we think.

On Censoring Science

“The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of cultural life.”
-Albert Einstein

Science is the unfettered pursuit of pure knowledge. An ideal that can never be fully realized as even the most open human mind – the mind of an Einstein – carries with it the inevitable traces of personal bias. But we can maintain that ideal nonetheless.

Filtering science through moralistic dogma, political agenda, or simple delusion dooms what we would call “science”, and therefore the pursuit of knowledge, to ultimate failure. Knowledge is not advanced and human progress is diminished.

If we are not willing to follow in the path that knowledge takes us, we have no choice but to turn back toward the cave from which we came.


On Justifications for Nuclear War

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
-Albert Einstein

At a recent debate, the Republican contenders for president, save one – Ron Paul of Texas – either explicitly or implicitly supported the use of a “tactical” nuclear strike against Iran should we find the need to prevent Iran from acquiring equipment, such as a centrifuge, needed to build a nuclear weapon.

Nobody wants Iran to get the Bomb (except, perhaps, Iran), but the irony of a policy position endorsing a nuclear strike of any kind in order to prevent nuclear technology from spreading only brings closer the scenario Einstein lays out in this quote.

Much to Einstein’s horror, the genie is out of the bottle. No simple-minded Manichean worldview will ever get it back in or make the world safer from the consequences of it being set loose in the first place.


Read my essay at ProperlyChastised.com: Nuclear Weapons Will Save Us From Nuclear Weapons  

On Distraction

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

The irony in Albert Einstein’s claim that too much reading (albeit “after a certain age”) created lazy mental habits is poignant , considering the state of our current world of cell phones, television, and computer games (though I’m sure there are many that would argue that “gaming” is anything but mentally lazy).

For a man that sat and thought, and in so doing came up with E=mc2, what would he think of our current state of distraction? From the moment we get up in the morning, to the time we lay back down, it is possible to never have a moment with your own, uninterrupted thoughts.

What could we accomplish if we turned off the television, shut down the computer, switched off the cell phone, and for an hour just sat with our own thoughts?

Or is the thought too frightening?