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Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius? 391

An anonymous reader writes CBS's upcoming hacker show Scorpion is pitched as based on the real life of Irish 'eccentric genius' Walter O'Brien a.k.a. "Scorpion". Some of the claims made for the real Scorpion are extraordinary. A child prodigy with an IQ of 197, hacking Nasa at age 13, [supplying] Ireland with more Personal Computers than DELL and Gateway together. Searching online I wasn't able to find anything which, for me, clearly backed up any of these (or other) claims. For example, rather than being the sixth fastest programmer in the world in 1993, his team ranked 90th out of 250 teams. Curiously, his degree grade was an ok, but hardly stellar B+ (II-I). Does anyone know anything to back up the genius claims being made about Scorpion?
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Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius?

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  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:33AM (#47652867)

    Get in the way of a good story.

  • Better question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:44AM (#47652899) Homepage Journal

    Who cares?

  • Never heard of him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:49AM (#47652921)


  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:59AM (#47652957)
    Including the news.

    I used to say that all TV was fiction except the weather, but then I saw Fox lying about that too: severe winter weather does not contradict global warming/climate change.

  • Grades vs IQ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uolamer ( 957159 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:02AM (#47652967)

    I have have a 163 IQ. I was capable of making straight A's in high school, but was bored I just acted out and got in trouble. What they called Advanced classes was the top 25-30 students out of a class of 100 people (small school), which was a joke. I was the person who made an A on the test but didn't do a few daily grades here or there and things of that nature. In college I have a 4.0 but it was mind numbing to keep that grade. College for the most part was pure memorization and doing the daily work..

    The point of this is that grades do not reflect IQ.

  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:03AM (#47652973)

    He probably is a smart guy, but these claims here would make me not want to hire him. He's so obviously full of himself that he'd probably never admit he might be wrong about something and that is just plain dangerous. So it's not just the hollywood drama, it's based on his on ludicrous claims.

  • by darkain ( 749283 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:45AM (#47653061) Homepage

    I can't even begin to count the number of things wrong with their web site which already makes me not trust them...

    * Using Flash just to have a "fancy" text label on the home page
    * More JavaScript than I can possibly imagine for a STATIC web page
    * Video where the lighting exposure is off and the audio quality is questionable
    * Speech during the video where the guy stumbles on his own words a couple of times

    Really, for a company that supposedly "mitigated risk for 7 years on $1.9 trillion of investments" and ran by a supposed tech superstar genius, you'd think they'd at least get the basics of technology and media correct on their own e-penis self-promotion presentation...

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:14AM (#47653127)

    Not true. I work with EE faculty, and a number of them can't seem to grasp the concept that the being a brilliant engineer doesn't automatically confer one with expertise in diverse other areas such as patent law, accounting, videography, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @04:01AM (#47653261)

    Ahh - unsubstantiated willy-waving of IQ scores which are meaningless other than to show how well you took an IQ test. God, I love the internet. Never has there been a greater facilitator of self-important low self-esteem.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:41AM (#47653609)

    You're right:

    From []

    "I was coming home from school and encountered a house surrounded by black cars. Mom was on the couch, crying; Dad was not too happy. A lot of men in suits were wanting to yell at me for what I had done but were a little surprised when out of my schoolbag I pulled an extradition waiver â" which calmed the conversation down. If they signed this [the extradition waiver] then I would show them where the holes are in their network. We ended up doing a deal â" which happens in most hacking incidents you never hear about.â"


    "The showâ(TM)s creator, Nick Santora, introduced him as a man who âoehas saved the world several times over, things he canâ(TM)t even tell us aboutâ."


    "One of Scorpionâ(TM)s executive producers told Comic-Con, âoeWalter personally caught the Boston bombers by writing an algorithm that tracked motion on all the cameras within a two-mile radius of the blast. That kind of thing makes for a really compelling episode of television. He also stopped nuclear meltdowns from happening.â"

    It's so full of weasel words it's unbelievable. An algorithm that tracks motion? what you mean checking if one frame is different to the next? that's tracking motion, hardly rocket science, any CS101 student could do it. Helped stopped nuclear meltdowns from happening? Well so have I, by not becoming an incompetent nuclear engineer that goes on to produce a flawed reactor design I assure you have also done exactly this. Things we can't be told about? Oh well, I'll assume they just don't exist then or I might as well just mention that I'm personally better than this guy because I saved not only the world numerous times, but the entire universe, I just can't tell you how.

    Which is a shame because it sounds like the show may be a bit like Numb3rs, the sort of show that might interest me, but with this insurmountable pile of tosh and bullshit that's apparently surrounding it I'm going to steer VERY clear. This guy is obviously an egotistical self-publicist and a serial liar, and the guys writing about him are obviously absurdly naive and have failed to realise that they could've made up these exact same stories without getting him involved.

    Everything he says is something many people could say and it would hold as much validity, there's literally nothing about this guy that's actually in any way verifiable - the incidents he claims to have been involved in, the things he claims to have done, absolutely none of it is verifiable. A genius that got a bog standard degree at a run of the mill UK university? - Christ, it's not like his "intelligence" even got him into Cambridge early, or even at all. It says he graduated in the late 90s, so if he was 13 in 1988 then that implies he only followed the same path of literally millions of other teens the same year he did. Why if he was such a genius wasn't he doing his A-Levels or degree early like real actual genius kids consistently manage to do? Even my fucking cousin got an A-Level at 14 because she was ahead of her years and yet she wasn't exactly exceptional - a few others in her school did too. I have two degrees, one of which I studied for whilst working full time, this means my academic achievements at very least are well ahead of this guy and I'm not exactly stand out either.

    I can find not a single shred of evidence that this guy is anything other than mediocre at best.

  • Re:Grades vs IQ (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:59AM (#47653651)

    The idea of showing your workings is so you can demonstrate that you understand what you are doing and didn't just Google the question or copy the answer from someone else, etc.

    Plus - God forbid - when you actually make a mistake every once in a while, it allows your teacher to identify where you made your mistake and help you.

    You arrogant fuck.

  • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:16AM (#47653681) Homepage

    You're right, he's probably nearly as smart as myself. It's a television show, what he doesn't come up with, the writers will. Have you, somewhere on this planet, come across a reality show that had unadulterated reality in it?
    Let's examine the claims of this article; He claimed 6th fastest programmer, author claimed his team came in 90th. Still not exclusive of each other.I.Q. of 197, I merely want to know which test or groups of tests and who did the testing. Hacking NASA; which computer? What did he do, find a flimsy password for ftp? Computer philanthropy, let's see some numbers to compare to Gateway/Dell.
    It really sounds more like Unknown Lamer just wanted to stir some drama to get his blog posted as a story on the main page as much as it sounds like bullshit on "scorpions" part.

  • Re:Grades vs IQ (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:25AM (#47653721) Homepage
    What I find particularily amusing about people claiming falsely inflated IQ's is that it shouldn't rationally be anything in itself to brag about. Due to behavioural issues when I was in primary school my IQ was tested, I can't remember the score but it was decent and I was fortunate enough to get accepted into a school for children with behavioural issues which selected for potential. That meant I got a reasonable education, when most kids who had behaved like me would be lucky if the schools they got sent to didn't lead to crime and drugs. Mathematics was always my strongest area. I completed my GCSE 4 years early and did a couple of advanced courses. I remember the odd conversation with staff about how I could go on to study maths at Oxbridge and go into mathematics research etc.

    Sounds like a bragging story right? Well it isn't. What I've told you is that I had a comparative advantage as a child, no different to being given say a million pounds at birth. It tells you that it should have been easier for me to succeed than for others. However, I'm not a world renowned mathematician or running my own company. So far in my life my achievements are pretty mundane, even though I was handed a headstart. Claiming to have a high IQ and not having achieved more than average is saying you had a headstart on everyone else and you wasted it.
  • Re:Grades vs IQ (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @08:09AM (#47653869)

    What is worse is when you get a teacher that makes you down for not doing it their convoluted and retarded way. Sorry teacher but I can do all that in my head, and you are marking me down because I am not slowing down and driving myself insane with the archaic and backwards way of finding the answer.

    Its not all about you or what you think is right, and you don't actually know everything regardless of what you think. Doing it in your head is fine when the teacher isn't trying to understand what you're doing, but when it comes to understanding what you're thinking process is, not showing your work makes it fairly hard.

    Luckily I had parents that would scream at the teachers and principal. we finally went over the their heads to the superintendent where he read off questions, and I typically had the answer before he finished reading did they realize that teaching at pot head speeds did not work for me.

    So you're an arrogant prick and your parents spoiled you and let you have your way. And better still, you think its your privilege to do whatever you think is the right way and ignore people with years of experience doing something.

    Everything you've said just screams 'asshole'. Its one thing for a teenager to think the way you think, but you're old enough at this point that you should know better than to say the things you're saying.

    Fitting into the real world is just as much a sign of intelligence as your ability to do mental arithmetic, so climb the fuck off your high horse and get some social skills you arrogant prick. You aren't special, guys like you are a dime a dozen.

  • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @08:14AM (#47653885)

    Anyone will, sooner or later, make a fool of themselves


  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:55PM (#47656573) Journal

    Hey, you don't need to be a genius to know that the best way to judge a barber is to check out his sons hair!

  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:00PM (#47657135) Journal

    When you're not good at anything, you think everyone else is faking it. When you're gifted and you don't challenge yourself, you think you're good at everything. But, if you're gifted and challenge yourself regularly, you learn to acknowledge what you do and do not know. Once that happens, you claim the mastery that is your due, respect it when you see it in others, and lose patience with those who constantly want to dispute the validity of what you've become. You learn to despise the word "opinion", because you constantly have it thrown in your teeth by people whose ego is incapable of acknowledging that expertise exists at all, let alone acknowledge that you might have it.

    At least, that's been my observation and experience. It's part of why I like volunteer work. When people are benefiting from your brilliance and watching you let others lead while you learn from them, they're less inclined to constantly challenge your capabilities, and more pleasant to be around. Purely social environments like bars and parties on the other hand, are a psychologically draining environment where bullshit flies, assertions are never compared against objective reality, and just listening to people talk threatens to make you stupider by normalizing a lack of rigor and discipline in acknowledging that you have areas of ignorance that no inherent brilliance can overcome.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.