Sidis, William James
William James Sidis (April 1, 1898 – July 17, 1944) was an American child prodigy with exceptional mathematical and linguistic skills.
Gabriel Delanne - Materials for use in the Study of Reincarnation
William Sidis, from Massachusetts, could read and write when he was 2 years old. At the age of 4, he spoke four languages and at the age of 12, he solved geometry problems, was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the age of admission is 21 and gave a lecture on the fourth dimension of space at Harvard University, to the amazement of the high mathematics professors who listened to him.
Gabriel Delanne thought he may have been a reincarnation of a former scientist. We have indicated he had unusual functional ability, and was the recipient of many ‘revelations’ which were essentially blue sky thinking. But where did the theories come from? – was it inter composer communication from another scientist, or was he a favoured child given clues by the spirits themselves? Or was he even possessed!?
Sidis said that the kind of a God that he did not believe in was the 'big boss of the Christians,' adding that he believed in something that is in a way apart from a human being
Sidis is notable for his 1920 book The Animate and the Inanimate, in which he postulates the existence of dark matter, entropy and the origin of life in the context of thermodynamics. But the foundations of this book were laid long before.
In early 1910, Sidis' mastery of higher mathematics was such that he lectured the Harvard Mathematical Club on 'four-dimensional' space. Notable child prodigy, cybernetics pioneer Norbert Wiener, who also attended Harvard at the time and knew Sidis, later stated in his book Ex-Prodigy:
MIT Physics professor Daniel F. Comstock was full of praises.
Sidis lecture to the Harvard Mathematical Club on four-dimensional space, when he was not quite 12 in 1910, came at a time when Dark matter was being discussed by many illustrious scientists.
- William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, OM, GCVO, PC, FRS, FRSE (26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907) - In a talk given in 1884, Lord Kelvin had concluded that "many of our stars, perhaps a great majority of them, may be dark bodies".
- In 1906 Henri Poincaré in "The Milky Way and Theory of Gases" used "dark matter", or "matière obscure" in French, in discussing Kelvin's work.
- The first to suggest the existence of dark matter, using stellar velocities, was Dutch astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn in 1922
In 1910, Dark matter was in its infancy. We can perhaps hypothesise that Sidis’ child like nature had left him open to receive ideas – and dark matter was undoubtedly an idea whose 'time' had come. It would seem that he might have even been in advance of the living scientists, leading one to believe that this is genuine spirit input from the Intelligences themselves. An example of an idea that is carefully hinted to us so that we might progress according to plan. There are some ideas which are exclusively given, but some that are more or less broadcast to see who will run with it and what they will do with it. Sidis ability to reason, probably made him an ideal candidate to receive the idea whose time had come.
In this we are co-creators, we have been given reason and imagination etc for a purpose. We make the intangible idea into a physical reality. There are a number of cases on the site that appear to be plagiarism, but which were not, they too are ideas whose time has come:
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge's problems
- Mark Twain's mental telegraphy
- W B Yeats' story
- Maurice Maeterlinck's story
We are here to make the 'ideas' become more useable and known. So we are like the end chain in the manufacture of a product which starts as an idea, becomes a template and eventually crystalises into a material thing, but is an idea, which starts with the Intelligences. In the case of Dark Matter, a full understanding shows that ‘spirit’ is possible. That Energy become either Spirit or Chaos and that Spirit becomes either Form [hardware analogously] or Function [software analogously]. In other words all those angels, goblins, fairies and Intelligences may be in Dark matter.
Boris Sidis [left], William's father, had once dismissed tests of intelligence as "silly, pedantic, absurd, and grossly misleading". However it is clear from the books William Sidis wrote later in life that he was naturally bright, but not as bright as he was when he was a prodigy.
We can dismiss possession by a living spirit, as any living spirit would have published his own paper. We can also dismiss possession by a former spirit, as the idea being proposed was in advance of the current thinking. We are left with spirit input from Intelligences as about the only solution that is viable.
Early Life as a prodigy
William James Sidis was born to Jewish emigrants from Ukraine, on April 1, 1898, in New York City. It is worth mentioning that the unusual word Sidi or Siddi, describes an Indian and Pakistani ethnic group of mainly East African descent.
His father, Boris Sidis [see right], PhD, M.D., had emigrated in 1887 to escape political persecution. His mother, Sarah (Mandelbaum) Sidis, M.D., and her family had fled the pogroms in the late 1880s. Sarah attended Boston University and graduated from its School of Medicine in 1897. William was named after his godfather, Boris' friend and colleague, the American philosopher William James.
Boris was a psychiatrist and published numerous books and articles, specialising in 'abnormal psychology'. Sidis's parents believed in nurturing a precocious and fearless love of knowledge. In effect William was the subject of home schooling.
With the aid of a box of alphabet blocks, [his father Dr. Sidis] actually succeeded in teaching him how to spell and read before he was three. He did this by playing with the boy, shifting the alphabet blocks around to spell different words, pointing to the objects spelt, and naming them aloud. The effect of this was not simply to teach the child spelling and reading, but also to give him a thorough grounding in the principles of sound reasoning. His mother said:
Sidis could read The New York Times at 18 months. By age eight, he had reportedly taught himself eight languages (Latin, Greek, French, Russian, German, Hebrew, Turkish, and Armenian) and invented another, which he called "Vendergood".
Although the University had previously refused to let his father enroll him at age 9 because he was still a child, Sidis set a record in 1909 by becoming the youngest person to enroll at Harvard University. He was 11.
This incredibly rapid acceleration into university life has been both praised and lambasted. For example:
8-16 October1999 - Doug Renselle from A Review of Kathleen Montour's ‘William James Sidis, The Broken Twig’
It appears that some educators assume gifted children will eventually take care of themselves. They think lesser children, statistically more common than gifted children, should be educations' focus. They think it is better to drag gifted down and lift non-gifted up. That socialist perspective is good for society. It is not good for intellectual and spiritual growth. When one assumes a single context for education with group benefit over individual benefit, we can interpret a socialist's reasoning. ….. However, reality does not work that way. …… Gifted children are change precursors of long term group survivability. Any system which degrades their opportunities reduces its own long term evolutionary stability and survivability. Gifted children, in a sense, are an apex of a natural selection process.
On the other hand, a child of nine thrust into an environment of adolescents, is going to be very lonely. Unless someone kind and probably female becomes that child’s friend and looks after him, prodigy or not, they are going to come out of a competitive, male dominated educational institution, with its violent games and sexist chatter, traumatised. These children are already sensitives, the average university is enough to unhinge any sensitive as it is, without the problem of the lack of maturity of an 11 or 12 year old.
And indeed despite doing some brilliant work, shortly after graduation, William told reporters that he wanted to live the perfect life, which to him meant living in seclusion.
Sidis had begun taking a full-time course load in 1910 and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, on June 18, 1914, at age 16. On graduation, he granted an interview to a reporter from the Boston Herald. The paper reported Sidis' vows to remain celibate and never to marry, as he said ‘women did not appeal to him’.
From LILA - Robert M. Pirsig 1991
Phaedrus thought about William James Sidis, the prodigy who read five languages when he was five years old. After discovering what he had said about Indians, Phaedrus had read a full biography and found that when Sidis was a teenager he announced he would refuse to have anything to do with sex for the rest of his life. It seemed as though in order to sustain a satisfactory intellectual life he had to cut himself off from social and biological domination except where they were absolutely necessary. This vow of ancient priests and ascetics was once considered a high form of morality, but in the "Roaring Twenties" of the twentieth century a new standard of morals had arrived, and when journalists found out about this vow they ridiculed Sidis mercilessly. That coincided with the beginning of seclusion that lasted the rest of his life.
"Is it better to have wisdom or is it better to be attractive to the ladies?" This was a question debated by Provençal poets way back thirteenth century. Sidis opted for wisdom…………
He later enrolled at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He had an equally miserable time. After a group of Harvard students threatened Sidis physically, his parents secured him a job at the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science, and Art (now Rice University) in Houston, Texas, as a mathematics teaching assistant. He arrived at Rice in December 1915 at the age of 17.
In theory he became a graduate fellow working toward his doctorate. After less than a year, frustrated with his teaching requirements, and his treatment by students older than he was, Sidis left his post and returned to New England. When a friend later asked him why he had left, he replied, "I never knew why they gave me the job in the first place—I'm not much of a teacher. I didn't leave—I was asked to go."
Sidis abandoned his pursuit of a graduate degree in mathematics and enrolled at the Harvard Law School in September 1916, but withdrew in good standing in his final year in March 1919,aged 21
In 1919, shortly after his withdrawal from law school, Sidis [a pacifist] was arrested for participating in a socialist May Day parade in Boston. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison under the Sedition Act of 1918. His father arranged with the district attorney to keep Sidis out of prison before his appeal came to trial; his parents, instead, held him in their sanatorium in New Hampshire for a year. They took him to California, where he spent another year. While at the sanatorium, his parents set about "reforming" him and threatened him with transfer to an insane asylum.
There is a terrifying paper that Wikipedia have managed to unearth by Joseph F. Kett (1978) entitled "Curing the Disease of Precocity" and published in The American Journal of Sociology. And it appears that a similar treatment [Robert Pirsig and Woody Guthrie were subjected to electric shock treatment to ‘cure ‘ them] was proffered as a threat to young William James Sidis.
And so, after returning to the East Coast in 1921, Sidis - determined to live an independent and private life - took simple jobs such as running adding machines or other fairly menial tasks. He worked in New York City and became estranged from his parents. As a consequence, Sidis became famous for his supposed eccentricity and withdrawal from public life. But this seems to more accurately represent the truth:
Shirley S. Smith, Wellesley Hills
"His numerous friends do not like the false newspaper picture of him, as a pauper and anti-social recluse. ... Bill Sidis was a quiet man who enjoyed the normal things of life. His friends respected him and enjoyed his company. I am glad to have been one of his friends."
Eventually, he avoided mathematics altogether, writing on other subjects under a number of pseudonyms. Sidis wrote many books, articles, and periodicals. He wrote using pseudonyms because he abided by the principles of anonymous contribution and avoidance of fame. Thus through his own choosing the media did not know of his highly productive life. Sidis later had a fulltime job, but did his prodigious thinking and writing in his own time.
The W. J. Sidis Archive [https://www.sidis.net/] have a copy of all of his writings found so far: four books; four pamphlets; 13 articles; four periodicals (36 issues); 89 weekly magazine columns; a design for a corporation owned and operated by a federation of its employees; and one wonderful invention - In 1930, Sidis received a patent for a rotary perpetual calendar that took into account leap years.
Sidis died in 1944 from a cerebral haemorrhage in Boston at the age of 46. His father had died from the same malady in 1923 at age 56.
Sidis' life and work are extensively discussed in
- Robert M. Pirsig's book Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (1991)
- Ex-Prodigy, an autobiography by mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894–1964), who was a prodigy himself and a contemporary of Sidis at Harvard.
Sidis was a "peridromophile", a term he coined for people fascinated with transportation research and streetcar systems. He wrote a treatise on streetcar transfers under the pseudonym of "Frank Folupa" that identified means of increasing public transport usage.
From writings on cosmology, to writings on American Indian history, to Notes on the Collection of Transfers, and several purported lost texts on anthropology, philology, and transportation systems, Sidis covered a broad range of subjects. Some of his ideas concerned "social continuity".
- The Animate and the Inanimate (1925), Sidis predicted the existence of regions of space where the second law of thermodynamics operated in reverse to the temporal direction that we experience in our local area. We have quoted from this book. When Dan Mahony sent Sidis's book The Animate and Inanimate to Buckminster Fuller, Fuller found it "a fine cosmological piece" that ‘astoundingly predicted the existence of black holes’―in 1925!
- The Tribes and the States (ca. 1935) employs the pseudonym "John W. Shattuck", and gives a 100,000-year history of the Settlement of the Americas, from prehistoric times to 1828. In this text, he suggests that "there were red men at one time in Europe as well as in America".
Dan Mahony of Ipswich, Massachusetts, read about Sidis in 1976 .Mahony spent years looking into Sidis's work. In one dusty attic, he found the bulky manuscript of 'The Tribes and the States' in which Sidis argues persuasively that the New England political system was profoundly influenced by the democratic federation of the Penacook Indians.
- The Book of Vendergood - Sidis created a constructed language called Vendergood in his second book, the Book of Vendergood, which he wrote at the age of 8. The language was mostly based on Latin and Greek, but also drew on German and French and other Romance languages. It distinguished between eight moods: indicative, potential, imperative absolute, subjunctive, imperative, infinitive, optative, and Sidis's own strongeable. One of its chapters is titled "Imperfect and Future Indicative Active". Other parts explain the origin of Roman numerals. It uses base 12 instead of base 10.
For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.
- Sidis, William James - The Animate And The Inanimate - 01 Chapter One The Reverse Universe
- Sidis, William James - The Animate And The Inanimate - 02 Chapter Two Reversible Laws
- Sidis, William James - The Animate And The Inanimate - 03 Chapter Three on Entropy and the 2nd law of thermodynamics
- Sidis, William James - The Animate And The Inanimate - 12 Chapter Twelve