The Genius Racket

Remember that sneaky little Elizabeth Holmes who supposedly created a new test method that would revolutionize medicine, then was caught out and sent "up the river" to "the big house?" Another manufactured fake.

The next, inevitable, low, is that they stoop to exploiting children in their deceptive practices.

They manufacture celebrity by simple promotion and hype, to create something out of nothing. "The genius racket" is when they sell certain entities as more than they are, more intelligent, with special, other-worldly abilities. Einstein's promotion was used to sell people on the ideas they had him peddle, and we've heard supposed quotes from him about war, political borders, sausages, beekeeping, the intelligence of humanity, you name it.

Jacob "Jake" Barnett

Jake Barnett, born in 1998, was touted as "the next Einstein," and that's true — he's a born hustler, an ability he appears to share with his mom.

With Einstein, I had known for quite awhile that he didn't come up with any of the things he's popularly known for. He merely repackaged the work of other scientists and thinkers, while taking credit for it. But I still thought he was worthy of admiration for his work on the subject he picked up a Nobel prize for, the Photoelectric Effect (the emission of electrons when photons strike certain materials). Further investigation reveals that he didn't actually discover it, merely "promoted" work done on it by someone else! So this type of unjustified lionization of the unworthy has had legs for a long, long time.

You may not have heard of this Jake, but, for a while, when he entered his teen years, the boy was promoted in various ways. Same old ruse, because it keeps on working.

Barnett, sharing space with Einstein, Hawking, and other "geniuses," feeds a scummy industry of exploitation.

We need to do a full analysis of what "genius" really is, before we start throwing that term around.

They put Barnett on stage at one of these self-indulgent, self-congratulatory lecture series for "smart people," the "TED Talks."

There he gave a lecture well-calculated to impress the suckers, as he teased and hinted about his accomplishments, but ultimately it was a hollow boast.

Even by the lax standards of today, someone still has to accomplish something extraordinary or create a breakthrough to be hailed as a genius, which Jake, unfortunately, hasn't. That didn't stop the huckstering media from praising him to the skies, of course.

Some have observed that irresponsible adults implanted delusions in the boy, such as Jake's claim that he "derived Kepler's law." Sorry, Jake, Kepler derived Kepler's laws of planetary motion, from long study of empirical data. Then Newton ran with them and refined them.

It's an astounding thing. There's so much for a bright child to learn, from other people who have actual accomplishments, yet his handlers manipulated him, the mother using him as a springboard to sell her book, and to package him as a "misunderstood autistic genius," that she "believed in," nurtured, and raised to lofty heights.

Any child is going to think he's momentous when showered with praise and accolades.

This species of fraud is easy to perpetrate, if you've got the gall, which isn't in such short supply.

How many people are embarrassed to criticize a "scientist?" How can they battle such wit and wisdom? Especially when the scientist is of the eccentric variety, outside the norm. Being young, and labeled autistic, almost guarantees him a seat at the Parthenon of great thinkers!

It caters to a general delusion of mankind: He's unassailable because of his age and claimed disability and because he wrote some squiggles on the chalkboard. And because an "authority" said so. "That's smart, at the super-genius level! D'oh!"

An essay on the Star Wars movies mentioned Lucas used the same conceit as a tool to describe a young Anakin and patch some weak plot areas — Lucas made him an impossibly bright and accomplished super-genius.

But why pick on the little nipper, Jake?

Not an "attack." The boy seemed clever enough (in fact, it shows the absurdity of the "diagnostic" process, burdening poor children with the label "autistic," when Jake is anything but autistic, if you rely on the stereotype of a withdrawn, uncommunicative loner with severe developmental disabilities).

But this "genius" racket, is well worth picking on.

Anything to create a controversy, give media something to run with.

But you know what would be really smart?

If Jake talked about how pleased he was to find out that there were so many things he didn't know, and needed to learn; that he was starting to get a grasp on what it really meant to actually accomplish something significant; and, that he'd found out that the scientific establishment had a lot of flaws and was responsible for hindering and suppressing advances in science.

Anyway, a few have caught on that something's not right with the Barnett mythos. So, in the fallout, Wikipedia removed the entry about the book by Jacob's mother. There was some debate between Wikipedia authors, where they concluded it was just an advertising gambit of shameless promotion. And, the entry on Jacob Barnett is also gone. They were unable to validate the hype over the boy, presumably, and to avoid embarrassment, pulled the page.

Some excerpts from that debate:

This reddit post suggests that Barnett has become some sort of meme, and more or less confirms that this is a hoax. Sławomir Biały (talk) 14:17, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, that would certainly appear to be the case. Truly bizarre. It seems that very little done by this person (or done in his name) is legit. Agricola44 (talk) 16:43, 5 September 2014 (UTC).

I recommend deleting this until Barnett does notable research to back up the outlandish claims being made here. So far, this article is only supported by sensationalistic articles written by people who have a kindergartner-level understanding of science. I removed some of the BS about disproving relativity, but all of this is still speculation that he might someday do something notable, which he hasn't yet.

Disagree. At least for the present, he is a minor celebrity figure and therefore the article should be retained on that basis. After all, the book was a bestselling one and the media reports/articles are numerous. (talk) 13:59, 10 December 2014 (UTC) answers a question about Jake's cred:

Stephan Hoyer, Physics Ph.D, UC Berkeley

Updated Oct 21, 2011

It is hard to say how credible Jacob's claims are without knowing the full details, but in brief they are not credible.

ESkeptic has a good article.

Furthermore, the media attention surrounding Jacob reveals that many in the public still falsely view intelligence—and especially “genius”—as an inborn trait rather than as the product of intense intellectual effort.

In public perception, high IQ plus mysterious mathematical talents plus the image of a young person at the university plus very spurious claims about a potentially Nobel Prize winning original theory all feed into the preexisting Amadeus myth. This helps to explain the media’s interest in Jacob. Add to this Jacob’s autism, and the controversies surrounding that topic, and you have a marketing phenom. What we don’t have is a body of work to judge.

You see, to be a genius is to produce a work of genius. Genius is as genius does. In his book of biographies about geniuses, Harold Bloom describes his test for genius by asking “has my awareness been intensified, my consciousness widened and clarified? If not, then I have encountered talent, not genius.”

And after all that, Jake has eased away from the spotlight, the tales of accomplishment and scientific revolutions have passed us by. But the same sources that rushed to hype him are certainly not rushing to admit it was all a flash in the pan.

This type of sensationalism is not some rare anomaly, it goes on frequently.

By definition, "genius" is very rare. But, alternatively, the supply of scam artists and deceivers is profuse, so you should be running into them all the time, which means expecting this sort of thing all the time.

New Info

Here's an unsubstantiated rumor from the web:

His (Jake's) mom was pretending to (help someone) while it made her look good. Then stopped.

They were fostering a young Disabled girl, I think from the Ukraine if I recall? When this was no longer helpful for making them look good they abandoned her leaving her with nobody. She was a child.

Net result at present, though, is Barnett has dropped off the radar. Clearly, they're finished with their fairy stories about him, and have gone on to new vistas, new shills and idols, and new BS.


Possibly everyone with any fame or presence is falsely lauded, whether as genius, statesman, innovator, revolutionary thinker... Usually they're tools to help guide you into this coming "new age" they're pushing on us. The list is potentially endless, but some big ones are:

  • Hawking, who did nothing but — supposedly — some goofy speculation, yet is lauded
  • Churchill, a worthless, war-mongering drunk
  • Shockley, apparently the fake inventor of the transistor
  • Tesla? Well, he had accomplishments, but we can't know if they're over-blowing it beyond that, as he comes off as more of a saint in the biographies. It could be they're using overselling to hide something else about him.
  • Musk, who is an entirely manufactured figure
  • MLK, who was reportedly a government agent

To summarize, it's so easy to fool mankind, when using certain tried and true strategies.

You synthesize your genius, then have him say something, and it must be right, because a genius said so. Write a book, put the genius's name on it and, presto! you get book sales. You use people's assumptions and prejudices against them, and the worship of "genius" is a type of prejudice.

Thus, "the genius racket," a racket like any other sneaky racket.


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