The Proximity To Genius Effect

by @edent | # # | 5 comments | Read ~566 times.

The student approached the master.
“Master!” The student wailed, “My code always crashes when I reach this point!”
The master was deep in thought. “Show me,” she muttered.
The student ran the code once more.
Lo! It did not crash.
“Thus,” whispered the master, “is the proximity to genius effect demonstrated.”
And the student became enlightened.

For years, I’ve been talking about the “proximity to genius effect.” It turns out, according to Google, I’m the only one who has heard of this term!
Google Bomb Proximity To Genius Effect
(Or, at least, I’m the only one to have mentioned it on the Internet before.)

The effect is simple to explain – it’s a form of Rubber Duck Debugging. When demonstrating a problem to a person, the issue resolves itself.

How many times has this happened to you? Just today I had a colleague ask me to find out why an HDMI cable wasn’t working in a new monitor, I watched him open the Windows’ config panel, click a few buttons and – lo! – the second monitor came to life.

A little latter, our top-notch designer couldn’t get a site to load. “Have you tried it without the https?” I asked.
“Yes! Look…”

You can guess what happened next!

Why Does This Happen?

There are three logical explanations.

With Rubber Duck Debugging, the user has to fully articulate her thought process. In doing so, she hears the assumptions and mistakes she has made and is able to correct them.

PGE has a similar impact. The act of demonstrating forces the user to think about all the steps they need to take and then perform them in order.

Secondly, geniuses often make leaps in their assumptions.

In the example above, I would bet that the “genius” knows that after switching on the home entertainment system, one has to wait 60 seconds in order for it to connect to the Internet. A “non-genius” hasn’t made that assumption and isn’t bound by the genius’s limitations. Therefore, when the genius is around, the TV works – when he is absent it often breaks.

The final explanation is that the mere presence of a genius has a positive impact on the electrons of modern machines. The calming influence we radiate prevents a build up of negative ions which so often leads to a system crashing or a machine not working.

By strategically hiring geniuses and placing them around your house or place of work, you can eliminate up to 100% of digital problems.

5 thoughts on “The Proximity To Genius Effect

  1. Long ago I used to have the opposite effect — I’d walk into the school computer room and they’d all crash 🙂

    1. We have a name for people like you. And it isn’t a nice one!

  2. There must be a book about this somewhere: The Zen of Genius Maintenance, a guide on how to use Feng Shui to position your geniuses around the workplace for optimal Chi.

  3. Ross says:

    I used to work in an electronics store. Customer comes in shouting “my laptops bust!” Thanks I say ok, gimme a look at it. Customer says, “crap, it’s working now…”

  4. jamie says:

    wow…that is some genius work right there, i too have experienced this effect in work + social situations sooo many times, i may actually stop claiming to use ‘the force™’ now i have some proper theory to spread.

    im favouring the assumptions theory the most, as i do naturally think the way technology tends to work, others around me dont. im constantly having to tell co-workers (who are all geniuses in their own way, even if that way is making a luvvly cup of coffee) not to bang the mouse on the desk when the screen is lagging or not to click print 50 times, instead of trying to work out why clicking it once did not work. to them its an obvious train of thought , pointer on screen is sticking, pointer controlled by mouse, punish mouse…bang bang.

    lol I wish I had a positive influence on the flow of electrons though, that would be awesome and probably top of the Cv , right after my name… jamie smith (influencer of electron flow) lol

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