Genius families

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In genius studies, genius families (LH:24), key: (GF:#), refers to families who maintained a rare confluence of genius; namely: Adams family, the chief family of US founding fathers[1], Shelley group, Darwin family, Curie family[2], Bernoulli family[3], the linchpin in the "Euler genealogy"[4], the Thomson clan (see: Thomson genealogy)[5], and the Huxleys, being the top five.


The following, collated from the top 2000 rankings (see: full list + candidates), are the rankings of genius families, ordered by a combination of number of geniuses in the family and the sum of the top 2000 ranking numbers for each member; the slated symbol "§" means that the shown person is listed in the top 2000 "candidates" page:

Member 1 Member 2 Member 3 Member 4 Member 5 Family
Henry Adams | #20 John Adams | #293 John Q. Adams | #437 Abigail Adams | § Brooks Adams | § Adams family[6]
Percy Shelley | #60 Mary Shelley | #341 Mary Wollstonecraft | #693 William Godwin | #694 Huxley family[7]
Charles Darwin | #106 Erasmus Darwin | #257 Francis Galton | #966 C.G. Darwin | § Darwin family[8]
Marie Curie | #121 Pierre Curie | #439 Irene Curie [2] Frederick Curie [2] Curie family[9]
Jacob Bernoulli | #353 Daniel Bernoulli | #425 Johann Bernoulli | § Bernoulli genealogy[10]
William Thomson | #52 James Thomson | #279 James Thomson (mathematician) [11] Thomson genealogy[12]
Thomas Huxley | #387 Aldous Huxley | § Julian Huxley | §
Galileo | #10 Vincenzo Galilei [13]
Sadi Carnot | #26 Lazare Carnot | #242
Pythagoras | #85 Telauges | #318
George Byron | #136 Ada Lovelace | #703
Alexander Humboldt | #199 Wilhelm Humboldt | #297
Voltaire | #17 Emilie Chatelet | #120 [14]
William Pitt (the Younger) | #224 William Pitt (the Elder) | #444
William James | #405 Henry James | §
Carl Sagan | #406 Lynn Margulis | #1081
Moses Mendelssohn | #651 Felix Mendelssohn | #652
Pliny (the Elder) | #466 Pliny (the Younger) (CR:7) [15]
Seneca (the Younger) | #591 Seneca (the Elder) [16]
Charlotte Bronte | #634 Emily Bronte | §
Benjamin Disraeli | #636 Isaac Disraeli [17]
Henry Beecher | § Harriet Stowe | § Beecher family[18]


Genius fathering genius?

In 1998, Hans Eysenck, in his Intelligence: a New Look, stated that there is no case on record of a genius fathering a genius:

“There is no case of a genius having a genius father — the best we can do is Mozart, whose father was a reasonably good musician, and Bach, who had several musically gifted relatives in his family, none of genius rank. For the great majority, father and mother were ordinary folk, without any special gifts or achievements.”
— Hans Eysenck (1998), Intelligence: a New Look (pg. #)[19]

Correctly, the seven names shown bolded are "geniuses born to genius fathers", contrary to Eysenck's claim.[19] Eysencky's claim, accordingly, seems to be a grasping at truth rule of thumb, which leans toward the "bachelorhood and genius"[20] correlation.

Genius skipping one generation

One salient feature noted, from the above, is that if genius does run in families, it does so, in some cases, by skipping a generation, e.g. Charles Darwin was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin; Henry Adams was the grandson of John Q. Adams; Julian Huxley and Aldous Huxley were the grandsons of Thomas Huxley, all of whom are established geniuses of their own accord.


A depiction of the "Shelley family", one of the top genius families, in the top 2000 minds. William Godwin (#694) and Mary Wollstonecraft (#693) produced Mary Shelley (#341), who married Percy Shelley (#60), in the "Church of Elective Affinities"[21], a repercussion of "this idea"[22], and in whose circle was George Byron (#136), who fathered Ada Lovelace (#703), who was tutored by Mary Somerville (#579), and who introduced her to Charles Babbage (#447) and Michael Faraday (#96); a rare confluence of genius, to say the least.

In 1869, Francis Galton, one of the members of the illustrious “Darwin family”, published Hereditary Genius, wherein he attempted, via citation to historical examples, to argue that “genius” was an “inherited” phenomena, or something to this effect?[23] Naturally, Charles Darwin, his half-cousin, balked at this contention. As the following table shows, with the top 1,100 minds now ranked (Dec 2020), geniuses running in families is a rather rare phenomena:

The Adams, Darwins, Bernoullis, Shelley group, Curie family, Thomsons, however, are rather singular phenomena, to say the least. The Ellis "genius, insanity, and fertility" quote below is testament to the opposite of what Galton seems to argue.

Among these families, the Curie family tends to be cited, in popular media, as having won five total Nobel Prizes (two won by Marie, herself).[2] Winning five Nobel Prizes, in the bigger picture of all-time geniuses, however, is a drop in the bucket. Big geniuses, such as Galileo and his father Vincenzo, Sadi Carnot (and his father), Telauges and his father (Pythagoras), etc., aren't after gold medals, but rather something bigger. We note that 75% of double Noble Prize laureates, are EPD products. Some of these geniuses families, we note, can be traced to one single family member who was "strong" in the mind with his or her "vision"; these are shown bolded above.


The following are related quotes:

“There would appear to be a considerable resemblance between the fertility of genius families and of insane families.”
Havelock Ellis (1901), “A Study of British Genius, VI: Marriage and Family” (pg. 213) [24]
“All the Bernoullis.”
— Lynam (2015), “Top 1000 missing geniuses”, Hmolpedia forum [3]

End matter

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  1. Founding fathers fallacy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Curie family – Wikipedia.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bernoulli genealogy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  4. Euler genealogy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  5. Thomson genealogy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  6. Adams political family – Wikipedia.
  7. Huxley family – Wikipedia.
  8. Darwin-Wedgwood family – Wikipedia.
  9. Curie family – Wikipedia.
  10. Bernoulli genealogy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  11. James Thomson (mathematician) – Hmolpedia 2020.
  12. Thomson genealogy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  13. Appeal to authority – Hmolpedia 2020.
  14. Note: Voltaire and Chatelet only had a clandestine "affair"; hence, were not technically a "family"; nevertheless, their "union" is singular and unusual phenomena in the top 2000.
  15. Pliny the younger – Hmolpedia 2020.
  16. Silent historians problem – Hmolpedia 2020.
  17. Genius#Quotes
  18. Beecher family – Wikipedia.
  19. 19.0 19.1 (a) Eysenck, Hans. (1998). Intelligence: a New Look (pg. #). Routledge, 2018.
    (b) Gallagher, Brian. (2018). “The Case Against Geniuses”, Nautilus, Dec 31.
  20. Bachelorhood and genius – Hmolpedia 2020.
  21. Church of Elective Affinities – Hmolpedia 2020.
  22. This idea – Hmolpedia 2020.
  23. Galton, Francis. (1869). Hereditary Genius: an Inquiry into its Law and Consequences. London: Macmillan.
  24. Ellis, Havelock. (1901). “A Study of British Genius, VI: Marriage and Family”, Popular Science Monthly, 59:209-.
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