What is a genius? Is a genius able to figure out any logical problem without prior studies? Or is a genius someone who is able to memorize lists and lists of unrelated items and quickly recall them at the precise moment to maximize their potential use? Or are they much more than that? Hollywood and American culture have portrayed geniuses as people with these abilities on top of a whole lot more. For instance, the 2001 biographical drama, A Beautiful Mind, shows a brilliant mathematician who struggles with paranoid schizophrenia, and the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting that portrays a young hoodlum able to accomplish stunning intellectual feats without any appreciable effort. But are either of these notions accurate, or is Hollywood just duping Americans with exaggeration of anecdotes for its profits?
Well the research points to the latter.
In the case of John Nash, an extraordinary genius (that actually existed) is plagued with schizophrenia. Thanks to this movie, and probably a more-than-healthy dose of jealousy, many Americans think of highly gifted geniuses as prone to mental illness and severely lacking in social skills, basically making them unattractive for anything but their intelligence. However, research shows that only a slightly greater proportion of geniuses are socially inept and predisposed to mental illness than the general public.
In the case of Good Will Hunting, a young Matt Damon plays a character that can solve a seemingly impossible linear algebra problem at first glance. However, research shows that geniuses in any field are not born geniuses in a particular field; they must work hard to perfect their abilities in that area. It is hypothesized that it takes at least 10,000 hours to accomplish this.