December 1st, 2004 - Open Knowledge
Dec. 1st, 2004
Why productivity fades with age: The crime–genius connection
Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, Canterbury,
The biographies of 280 scientists indicate that the distribution of their age at the time of their greatest scientific contributions in their careers (age–genius curve) is similar to the age distribution of criminals (age–crime curve). The age–genius curves among jazz musicians, painters and authors are also similar to the age–crime curve. Further, marriage has a strong desistance effect on both crime and genius. I argue that this is because both crime and genius stem from men's evolved psychological mechanism which compels them to be highly competitive in early adulthood but ‘‘turns off’’ when they get married and have children. Fluctuating levels of testosterone, which decreases when men get married and have children, can provide the biochemical microfoundation for this psychological mechanism. If crime and genius have the same underlying cause, then it is unlikely that social control theory (or any other theory specific to criminal behavior) can explain why men commit crimes and why they desist.
A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of thirty will never do so.
Albert Einstein (Brodetsky, 1942, p. 699)
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