|Harvard alumni Matt Damon and comedian Robin Williams playing the roles of Boston prodigy Will Hunting and MIT psychologist Sean Maguire.||Boston prodigy William Sidis (IQ=250-300) the role model for Will Hunting: accepted to MIT at age 8; Harvard mathematics age 16, law school age 17.||Harvard psychologist Boris Sidis, the role model for Sean Maguire: was Will's parole psychologist for one year (1919) after his arrest for assaulting an officer.|
|Clip of the 1998 article "Good Will Sidis", first publication to note the similarities between those of Sidis and Hunting. |
|The Prodigy: a Biography of William James Sidis, America's Greatest Child Prodigy, the book on which the script for the 1997 film Good Will Hunting is based.||Written by Amy Wallace (1986) who built on the prior biographical research (1976-79) of Daniel Mahony.|
“I knew Matt when they were writing this script and remember that the central character was based on a story that was circulating at the time about someone.”
|Will Sidis intensely reading as a child at about age 8 when he was about to graduated from high school and passed the MIT entrance exam.||Will Hunting reading a psychology book at a rate of one page per second in his apartment while he works as a janitor at MIT. |
|Skylar (left), in the racetrack scene, styles her hair (side part) based on the photo of Martha (right) in the Wallace's book The Prodigy.|
|Skylar (Minnie Driver)|
Hunting called her from jail.
|Martha Foley (model for Skylar)|
Sidis met her in jail.
|William Sidis and life-long friend |
Isaac Rabinowitz (1943), nicknamed "Rab" by Sidis
|Will Hunting and is life-long friend Charles Sullivan (1997), nicknamed "Chuckie" by Hunting.|
| Daniel Comstock|
MIT professor who gave Will Sidis his first job working at MIT working on
“some advanced theoretical problems”.
MIT professor who gave Will Hunting a job at MIT working on "some advanced combinatorial mathematics".
“Gauss is the only example in history, of all prodigies, whom Sidis resembles.”
Comstock: “I’m hiring Will for two reasons—I need a brilliant mind, and I hope to keep the boy out of jail for his refusal to go to war.”
Lambeau: “Well, if he doesn’t show up and I have to file a report saying he wasn’t here and he goes back to jail, it won’t be on my conscience,
Lambeau: “What problems does he have, Sean, that he is better off as a janitor or in jail or hanging around with –”
|NSA interview "club a baby seal" scene, which is based on Sidis quitting MIT labs after finding out his work is to be used for military purposes.|
“Why shouldn’t I work for the NSA? That’s a tough one, but I’ll take a shot. Say I’m working at the NSA and somebody puts a code on my desk. Something no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it, maybe I break it. I’m real happy with myself because I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or Middle East.
Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels are hiding. Fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problems with, get killed. Now the politicians are saying, ‘Send in the Marines to secure the area’, ‘cause they don’t give a ****. It won’t be their kid over their getting’ shot, just like it wasn’t them when they their number got called ‘cause they were off doing a tour in National Guard. It’ll be some kid from Southie over there takin’ shrapnel in the ass.
He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he got back from, and the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ‘cause he’ll work for 15 cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price.
Of course, the oil companies used a skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain’t helpin’ by buddy at 2.50 a gallon. They’re takin’ their sweet time bringin’ the oil back, for course. Maybe they even took the liberty to hire an alcoholic skipper, who likes to drink martinis and ******’ play slalom with the icebergs. It ain’t too long till he hits one, spills the oil…and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy’s out of work, he can’t afford to drive, so he’s walkin’ to the ******’ job interviews…which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is givin’ him chronic hemorrhoids. Meanwhile, he’s starvin’, ‘cause every time he tries to get a bit to eat, the only blue plate special he’s servin’ is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State.
So what did I think? I’m holding out for somethin’ better. I figure, **** it. While I’m at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pip and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.”
(Clark is said to plagiarize his views to impress Skylar
at the Harvard bar) 
“Wood drastically underestimates the impact of social distinctions predicated upon wealth, especially inherited wealth. You got that from Vickers, Work in Essex County, page 98, right?”
“Actually, I have no idea where "Wood 'drastically underestimates the impact of social distinctions predicated upon wealth, especially inherited wealth.' You got that from Vickers, 'Work in Essex County,' page 98, right?" comes from. On p. 98, I discuss the rise of the Massachusetts cod fishery in the 17th century, and nowhere in the book do I refer to Gordon Wood; I don't think I even footnote him. Finally, although I have disagreements with Wood, they don't relate much to inequality, let alone inequality based on inherited wealth. Other historians have taken him to task on this, but not me. I think Matt Damon, who I have been told took history courses at Harvard, was writing this from memory and confused both the book's title and its contents.”
|"No, no...there's no problem here. I was just hoping you might give me some insight into the evolution of the market economy in the Southern colonies. My contention is that prior to the Revolutionary War, the economic modalities, especially in the southern colonies, could most aptly be characterized as agrarian, pre-capitalist …"||"Of course that's your contention. You're a first year grad student. You just got finished readin' some Marxian historian -- Pete Garrison probably. You're gonna be convinced of that 'til next month when you get to James Lemon, and then you're gonna be talkin' about how the economies of Virginia and Pennsylvania were entrepreneurial and capitalist way back in 1740. That's gonna last until next year - you're gonna be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood, talkin' about, you know, the Pre-revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization."||"Well, as a matter of fact, I won't, because Wood drastically underestimates the impact of --."|
|"Wood drastically -- Wood 'drastically underestimates the impact of social distinctions predicated upon wealth, especially inherited wealth.' You got that from Vickers, 'Work in Essex County,' page 98, right? Yeah, I read that too. Were you gonna plagiarize the whole thing for us? Do you have any thoughts of your own on this matter? Or do you...is that your thing? You come into a bar. You read some obscure passage and then pretend...you pawn it off as your own idea just to impress some girls and embarrass my friend? See the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you're gonna start doin' some thinkin' on your own and you're gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One: don't do that. And two: You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f****n' education you coulda' got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library."||"eah, but I will have a degree. And you'll be serving my kids fries at a drive-through on our way to a skiing trip."||"Yeah, maybe. Yeah, but at least I won't be unoriginal. But .... if you have a problem with that ... we could just step outside and we could figure it out."|
“My father [Isaac Rab] would do it in ink, right off the bat. But Bill—Jesus! He would just look at the thing. He had a photographic memory and didn’t have to write down too much. Maybe one letter instead of a word, sometime in the middle so he wouldn’t lose his place, while he was doing the downs. But it was mostly done mentally.”
|The ability is similar to the claims of Russian Naida Camukova (c. 1976-), with a supposed IQ=200, who claims to read a book a day and have a photographic memory of over 3,000 books, where she remembers every comma in each book, Camukova also, coincidently had a brain hemorrhage at age 23 (in coma for 20-days) similar to Sidis who died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 46. Similar to Sidis, Camukova, started talking age 1, learned to read and write at age 2; age 14 was enrolled in both Moscow State University (history) and Daghestan State University (literature); began medical school at age 9 (or 15); speaks seven languages; age 25 became professor of history and literature; has published 25-books.|
American mega-savant Kim Peek (1951-2009), person behind the 1988 film Rain Main, who was born without a corpus callosum (the bundle of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain), may have had this ability. He would read books, memorized them, and then placed them upside down on the shelf to show that he had finished reading them, a practice he maintained. He can read a book in about an hour, and remember almost everything he had read, and was thus able to memorizing vast amounts of information in subjects ranging from history and literature, geography, and numbers to sports, music, and dates.
His reading technique consisted of reading the left page with his left eye and the right page with his right eye and in this way he could read two pages at a time with a rate of about 8-10 seconds per page. It is believed he could recall the content of at least 12,000 books from memory. On a side note, this ability is similar to John Stuart Mill (IQ=200), who “could write Greek with his left hand while writing Latin with his right.”
|Clip on how thermodynamicist William Sidis is the basis for the 1997 film Good Will Hunting.|