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A Review
Chapter VIII
Boris Sidis'
Philistine and Genius
by Doug Renselle

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Move to any Chapter of Boris Sidis' Philistine & Genius,
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Chapter VIII
Business & Educational Bureaucracies Choke Education.
©Quantonics' contrived chapter title.


(Most quotes verbatim Boris Sidis, some paraphrased.)

(Relevant to Pirsig, William James Sidis, and Quantonics Thinking Modes.)
45 "From time to time the 'educational' methods of our philistine teachers are brought to light. A girl is forced by a schoolma'am [Boris' word. PDR] of one of our large cities to stay in a corner for hours, because she unintentionally transgressed against the barrack-discipline of the school-regulations. When the parents became afraid of the girl's health and naturally took her out of school, the little girl was dragged before the court by the truant officer. Fortunately 'the judge turned to the truant officer and asked him how the girl could be a truant, if she bad been suspended. He didn't believe in breaking children's wills.'" (Our bold emphasis. Our bracketed notes.)

"In another city a pupil of genius was excluded from school because 'he did not fall in with the system' laid out by the "very able business-superintendent." A schoolmistress conceives the happy idea of converting two of her refractory pupils into pin-cushions for the edification of her class. An 'educational' administrative superintendent of a large, prosperous community told a lady who brought to him her son, an extraordinarily able boy, 'I shall not take your boy into my high-school, in spite of his knowledge.' When the mother asked him to listen to her, he lost patience and told her with all the force of his school-authority, 'Madam, put a rope around his neck, weigh him well down with bricks!'

"A principal of a high school in one of the prominent New England towns dismisses a highly talented pupil because, to"

(Our bold emphasis.)

"quote verbatim from the original school document, 'He is not amenable to the discipline of the school, as his school life has been too short to establish him in the habit of obedience.' 'His intellect,' the principal's official letter goes on to say, 'remains a marvel to us, but we do not feel, and in this I think I speak for all, that he is in the right place.' In other words, in the opinion of those remarkable pedagogues, educators and teachers, the school is not the right place for talent and genius!

"A superintendent of schools in lecturing before an audience of 'subordinate teachers' told them emphatically that there was no place for genius in our schools. Dear old fogies, one can well understand your indignation! Here we have worked out some fine methods, clever rules, beautiful systems and then comes"

(Our bold emphasis.)

Then genius shall make a right place for itself! Genius shall leave dunder-dweebs in their own abyss of stasyss. Times are nigh. Stases are bases of sciolises.

"genius and upsets the whole structure! It is a shame! Genius cannot fit into the pigeonholes of the office desk. Choke genius, and things will move smoothly in the school and the office.

"Not long ago we were informed by one of those successful college-mandarins, lionized by office-clerks, superintendents and tradesmen, that he could measure education by the foot-rule! Our Regents are supposed to raise the level of education by a vicious system of examination and coaching, a system which Professor James [William James, philosopher, psychologist, mentor of Boris and William James Sidis], in a private conversation with me, has aptly characterized as "'idiotic.'

"Our schools brand their pupils by a system of marks, while our foremost colleges measure the knowledge and education of their students by the number of 'points' passed. The student may pass either in Logic or Blacksmithing [Boris' capitalization]. It does not"

(Our bold emphasis. Our bracketed notes.)

"matter which, provided he makes up a certain number of 'points!'

"College-committees refuse admission to young students of genius, because 'it is against the policy and the principles of the university.' College-professors expel promising students from the lecture-room for 'the good of the class as a whole,' because the students 'happen to handle their hats in the middle of a lecture.' This, you see, interferes with class discipline. Fiat justitia pereat mundus. Let genius perish, provided the system lives. Why not suppress all genius, as a disturbing element, for 'the good of the classes,' for the weal of the commonwealth? Education of man and cultivation of genius, indeed! This is not school policy.

"We school and drill our children and youth in schoolma'am mannerism, school-"

(Our bold emphasis.)

Notice how "the system" is not practicing an evolutionarily stable strategy!

Not an ESS! Why? First of all it is not THE systems, it is only a tiny part of THE systems.

Secondly, genius represents newer, more dynamic, more highly evolving intellect. "The system" represents older, more static, less evolved, more slowly evolving culture. Genius is telling "the system," to "hurry up, or you'll be replaced in a r-evolutionary way." "The system," is telling genius, "stop your dynamic behavior, and follow our rules, else we will kill you!" (As examples, consider, Hippasus, Socrates, Jesus, Bruno, Galileo, Loyola, Zuni Brujo, William James Sidis, Pirsig, et al.) But what "the system" does not understand is that genius wins ultimately. It cannot lose longer term. So "the system" best learn to increase its rate of adaptation, or become extinct. That is the only winning ESS for "the system." Nature designed her rules to make it so... Intellect has tentative moral privilege over society. But intellect, too, shall be surpassed (assuming no catastrophic intervening events) by an ascension of something like our quantum stage. 14May2000 Doug.


"master mind-ankylosis, school-superintendent stiff-joint ceremonialism, factory regulations and office-discipline. We give our pupils and students artisan-inspiration and business-spirituality. Originality is suppressed. Individuality is crushed. Mediocrity is at a premium. That is why our country has such clever business men, such cunning artisans, such resourceful politicians, such adroit leaders of new cults, but no scientists, no artists, no philosophers, no statesmen, no genuine talent and no true genius.

"School-teachers have in all ages been mediocre in intellect and incompetent. Leibnitz [1646-1716. Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz. German philosopher, mathematician. Unaware, co-invented calculus with Newton. PDR] is regarded as a dullard and Newton [1642-1727. Sir Isaac Newton. English scientist and mathematician. Interpreted gravity classically, not intuiting its intrinsic quantum nature. PDR] is considered as a blockhead [In retrospect, he was. PDR]. Never, however, in the history of mankind have school teachers fallen to such a low level of mediocrity as in our times and in our country. For it is not the amount of"

(Our bold emphasis. Our bracketed notes.)

How true. Our personal experience of extraordinary teaching talent is that it cannot survive in education's prosaic and stifling church of political correctness and spoon-fed rote-recall. Only reason we can see that some stay is money and time off. Few teachers work more than a 180- or 190-day year (1 week Spring break, 2-weeks Christmas break, and 10 weeks Summer break). Benefits and chapter 501 rules make 'education' an even larger draw for intellectually inept. And 'tenure' guarantees you can be anything except immoral or illegal and keep your 'union' job. Sad...and they are "underpaid" too! Even better they are innate NEA socialist-advocates who know exactly what "the rest of us" should think and know! They're 'teaching' us?

"knowledge that counts in true education, but originality and independence of thought that are of importance in education. But independence and originality of thought are just the very elements that are suppressed by our modern barrack-system of education. No wonder that military men claim that the best "education" is given in military schools.

"We are not aware that the incubus of officialdom, and the succubus of bureaucracy have taken possession of our schools. The red tape of officialdom, like a poisonous weed, grows luxuriantly in our schools and chokes the life of our young generation. Instead of growing into a people of great independent thinkers, the nation is in danger of fast becoming a crowd of well-drilled, well-disciplined, commonplace individuals, with strong philistine habits and notions of hopeless mediocrity."

(Our bold emphasis.)

"In levelling [Boris' spelling] education to mediocrity we imagine that we uphold the democratic spirit of our institutions. Our American sensibilities are shocked when the president of one of our leading colleges dares to recommend to his college that it should cease catering to the average student. We think it un-American, rank treason to our democratic spirit when a college president has the courage to proclaim the principle that 'To form the mind and character of one man of marked talent, not to say genius, would be worth more to the community which he would serve than the routine training of hundreds of undergraduates.'

"We are optimistic, we believe in the pernicious superstition that genius needs no help, that talent will take care of itself. Our kitchen clocks and dollar timepieces need careful handling, but our"

(Our bold emphasis. Our bracketed notes.)


"chronometers and astronomical clocks can run by themselves.

"The truth is, however, that the purpose of the school and the college is not to create an intellectual aristocracy, but to educate, to bring out the individuality, the originality, the latent powers of talent and genius present in what we unfortunately regard as 'the average student.' Follow Mill's [J. S. Mill, British philosopher and economist. PDR] advice. Instead of aiming at athletics, social connections, vocations and generally at the professional art of money-making, 'Aim at something noble. Make your system such that a great man may be formed by it, and there will be a manhood in your little men, of which you do not dream.'

"Awaken in early childhood the critical spirit of man; awaken, early in the child's life, love of knowledge, love of truth, of art and literature for their"

(Our bold emphasis. Our bracketed notes.)

Yes! We need to set our bar that high, so that others, in straining to reach, will grow beyond normal expectation. Who will seed this new beginning? Will you? Who will abort socialized, unionized 'education?'

Actually, many of you already are. Congratulations! Public education is in decline, naught to return to its former 'glory.' Our society bears awful, and now very visible marks of its incompetence. Boris was right! But virtual schools and education are just now picking up all slack. Soon we will have a virtual domain for intellect and genius to grow at its own local rates without bound. Static culture has no (non-catastrophic) way to stop that now.


"own sake, and you arouse man's genius. We have average mediocre students, because we have mediocre teachers, department-store superintendents, clerkly [Boris' usage] principals and deans with bookkeepers' souls, because our schools and colleges deliberately aim at mediocrity.

"Ribot [Theodule Armand Ribot, 1839-1916, authored various texts including: The Diseases of Memory, Essay on Creative Imagination, The Evolution of General Ideas, and Heredity: A Psychological Study of Its Phenomena, Laws, Causes, and Consequences.] in describing the degenerated Byzantine Greeks tells us that their leaders were mediocrities and their great men commonplace personalities. Is the American nation drifting in the same direction? It was the system of cultivation of independent thought that awakened the Greek mind to its highest achievements in arts, science and philosophy; it was the deadly Byzantine bureaucratic red tape with its cut-and-dried theological discipline that dried up the sources of Greek genius. We are in danger of building up a Byzantine empire with large"

(Our bold emphasis. Our bracketed notes.)

"institutions and big corporations, but with small minds and dwarfed individualities. Like the Byzantines we begin to value administration above individuality and official, red-tape ceremonialism above originality.

"We wish even to turn our schools into practical school-shops. We shall in time become a nation of well-trained clerks and clever artisans. The time is at hand when we shall be justified in writing over the gates of our school-shops 'mediocrity made here!'"

(Our bold, color emphasis.)

Boris' 90 year old prediction has, essentially, come to pass. As he calls it, "...a socialist embarkation on mediocrity..." (paraphrased)
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To contact Quantonics write to or call:

Doug Renselle
Quantonics, Inc.
1950 East Greyhound Pass, Suite 18, #368
Carmel, INdiana 46033-7730

©Quantonics, Inc., 2000-2012 Rev. 26Aug2009  PDR Created: 5May2000  PDR
(12Aug2005 rev - Adjust colors. Add GIF arrows in place of wingdings.)
(14Apr2006 rev - Adjust colors. Release table constraints.)
(12May2008 rev - Reformat page.)
(26Aug2009 rev - Make page current.)

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