Dean Keith Simonton


On his book The Genius Checklist: Nine Paradoxical Tips on How You Can Become a Creative Genius

Cover Interview of April 10, 2019


Authors are probably overly inclined to engage in big fantasies about the consequences of their work. After all, even a book that’s only a few hundred pages took a lot of effort to write. Going through the copyediting and proof-correcting phases is by no means fun. Hence, the writer has to look for some compensation down the line.

There are always the forthcoming royalty checks. But here I do not have high expectations. University presses seldom publish bestsellers. Indeed, I’ve long ago stopped visiting to see what my best sellers rank might be. Darn, I was just tempted to look, and right now there are more than 100,000 books that are higher ranked!

Luckily, as a scientist I put a bigger premium on influence. I want the Genius Checklist to exert an impact on what people know about the science of genius. I’d like to get them beyond the popular myths and stereotypes associated with world-class creators. And insofar as the scientific results have any practical use, then may this book lead to real-world applications. Such as helping parents who find themselves with a highly gifted child, or teachers who find that same child disrupting their classroom, or prospective employers who are grappling with a job applicant with a rather unusual résumé once that child grows up.

Who knows? The volume might even enjoy a positive influence on future research as well. A reader might be a scientist who becomes inspired by one of the paradoxical tips to conduct original inquires. Or the book might be assigned in an undergraduate course that then has repercussions when a student later goes to graduate school and selects some issue for their doctoral thesis and later research program—like I did more than four decades ago.

Am I fantasizing again? It’s way too early to know, given the recent publication date. But I’m hopeful. I just learned that the book will be translated into Mandarin and Japanese. So right there I have a substantial increase in potential bookstore and online browsers. Besides, the worst-case scenario is not all that bad anyway. I wrote a book that needed to be written. It was put out by a prestigious publisher that did excellent production and promotion. Plus, I received an invitation for this interview!