Geniuses Who Were Actually Terrible People

Without geniuses, the world would look nothing like it does today. One brilliant person can change history, create amazing art, or simply do things us normies could only dream of. But the ironic thing is that the world might actually have been a much nicer place if some of the most intelligent and talented people of all time had never existed. Sure, anyone can be a jerk, but these big brains seemed to take it to the next level.

Bobby Fischer was a raging anti-Semite

Bobby Fischer was possibly the greatest chess player of all time. He was definitely the best American chess player ever, and he proved it when he became the first (and still only) Yank to be crowned official world chess champion after checkmating Boris Spassky of the U.S.S.R. in 1972. But in between his matches he liked to hate on Jews.

The supreme irony was that he was probably Jewish himself. But you were in for a world of pain if you brought that up. According to the Jewish Press, Fischer thought Jews were "filthy, lying bastard people." He was less than thrilled when his biography was included in the Encyclopedia Judaica and demanded it be removed. He must have assumed everyone would want to convert to Judaism just because they were casually browsing this book and saw his name, and he wasn't having that. He told the publishers to "try to promote your religion on its own merits -– if indeed it has any."

If that wasn't enough, Fischer also managed to become a Holocaust denier who was obsessed with the Third Reich. Not content to keep those views to himself, he passed out pamphlets about it in front of the Los Angeles Public Library. He read such hate-filled "classics" as Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He had a large collection of Nazi memorabilia, and rumor had it he even slept with a picture of Hitler over his bed.

Isaac Newton basically erased a guy from the history books over a stupid rivalry

Isaac Newton is up there with the greatest scientists of all time. He managed to invent calculus, figure out gravity, and come up with three laws of motion among his many other significant achievements. Most of us probably would have given up science after doing just one of those things, knowing our name was already going to be in the history books.

You know whose name is barely in the history books? Robert Hooke. And that is completely down to Newton trying to wipe him off the face of the planet over a little feud.

New Historian says Hooke was a brilliant scientist too, so much so that one of his biographers referred to him as the "English Da Vinci." But he and Newton disagreed on whether light was a particle, and this disagreement turned into some seriously vicious correspondence between the two of them. It got even worse when Newton published his theory of gravity. Hooke had done work on it himself and thought he deserved some of the credit, but Newton wasn't about to give him any. Instant hate.

After Hooke died, Newton was able to start tarnishing his reputation. Soon the narrative surrounding him was that he was "bitter" and took credit for other people's work. Newton might even have been responsible for destroying the only painting of Hooke that existed because halfway measures are for losers.

Nikola Tesla believed in eugenics

It's dangerous to say anything even moderately negative about Nikola Tesla on the internet. He's become almost the patron saint of the science side, and people like to hold him up as the good guy in his fights with men like Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. But as the Smithsonian reminds us, at the end of the day he was just a dude, and no one is perfect.

What Tesla was really good at was predicting how things would be in the future, to the point that it makes you wonder if clairvoyance actually exists. Despite that, we can only hope he was totally wrong on his theory that eugenics would be all the rage by 2100.

In 1935, right as the Nazis were really starting to find their terrible groove, Tesla was writing some predictions for the magazine Liberty. And one of them was that we needed to stop making people he thought were inferior. He thought we did a good job of this in the past thanks to the survival of the fittest, but humanity had gone all soft and needed to start weeding out "less desirable strains." Sure, the sterilization of criminals and insane people that was taking place in some areas was a start, he said, but we also needed to make marriage more difficult to make sure only good people were mating with each other. Marriage was hard enough to prevent at least one not-so-good person from reproducing: Tesla never married.

John Lennon was a wife beater

John Lennon is up there with the greatest musicians of all time. He emanated cool, whether it was in his mop-haired days or lying in bed talking about peace with the worst bed-head ever. He is responsible for some of the greatest songs of all time, both with the Beatles and as a solo artist. He was also a huge, gigantic, unequivocal jerk.

As recounted by Vice, Lennon's list of faults is long. He was a cheater, having a relationship with Yoko Ono while married to his first wife, Cynthia, but then he had an 18-month affair with his assistant while he was with Ono. He was a dreadful father to his first son, Julian, smacking him around for such terrible childhood crimes as not having perfect table manners. (And Julian was 5 when John left, so we're talking about a toddler here.) But perhaps the worst of his crimes was that he liked hitting women, even the two he got married to.

This isn't something that's up for debate. It's not a he-said-she-said situation, and it's not even close. Lennon admitted it himself in the Playboy interview that came out two days before he was killed. He said he hit "any woman" and then tried some weird introspection that just made it worse. He said it was the reason he was always preaching peace, because "it is the most violent people who go for love and peace." Perfect wife beater logic.

William Golding was an attempted rapist

William Golding is most famous as the author of Lord of the Flies, which you almost certainly had to read in school and probably led to your fantasy of being trapped on a desert island with some of your classmates where you would be in charge of the conch shell. One famous book wouldn't be enough to call him a genius, except he also won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and they don't hand those things out to just anybody.

According to his own writings (recounted in The Guardian), Golding had some serious issues. He tried to explain his "monstrous" side to his long-suffering wife in a memoir that wasn't read by anyone else until after he died. For one, he had a major problem with alcohol. But even when he was younger he made some bad choices, like when he attempted to rape a 14-year-old girl.

He was 18 and on a break from studying at Oxford. In his memoir he tries some intense victim-blaming, saying the girl was "depraved by nature" and "sexy as an ape." It's not clear what kind of apes he'd been looking at, but regardless, we're talking about a child here. Children are not sexy. He claimed he could tell she "wanted heavy sex," which is why he thought it was okay to try and force himself on her. He must have been so confused when she ran away.

Father of rock 'n' roll Chuck Berry served a lot of time and was a Peeping Tom

It takes a pretty talented person to create a whole new genre of music, and Chuck Berry did that. (With a little help, obviously, from his cousin Marvin and Marty McFly.) This "new sound" would go on to dominate the charts for decades.

But in his personal life, Berry could not stop screwing up. According to Biography, as a teenager, he committed armed robbery and was sent to jail for three years. History recounts how, at 33 years old, he took a 14-year-old girl across state lines. That isn't illegal in and of itself, but she claimed to the police that there was something sexy going on between them, which is illegal under the Mann Act, which says you can't cross borders with minors if it has an "immoral purpose." He spent another 20 months in federal prison for that one.

But prison must not have taught him a lesson. The Telegraph reported that he settled a class-action lawsuit in 1990 with 59 women who accused him of taping them while they went to the bathroom in his Missouri restaurant. The case never went to trial because he paid out $1.2 million, but reports stated that cops had found hidden camera tapes of women in his house. We're not sure what kind of weird fetish makes you like seeing people pee, but it must inspire some great music.

Steve Jobs was a tyrant who screwed over his friend

Apple visionary Steve Jobs could have his own very long list of terrible things he did. While he might have been the brains behind some of the most popular electronics of the past few decades, he was a huge jerk to almost everyone he came into contact with.

Business Insider listed enough examples to last a lifetime. Once he thought some employees were working too slow on a project so he burst into a meeting with a string of profanities we can't repeat here. When he was in charge at Pixar he fired people with no notice and no severance pay. He screwed over one of Apple's first employees by never giving him stock options. He asked at least one potential recruit if he was a virgin during his interview. And more.

He started as he meant to go on. When he was young and working for Atari he was given a task to do and offered a large bonus to do it. Instead he got his friend Steve Wozniak to do it and lied to him about how much they were being paid, only giving him a small percent of the fee.

But he was perhaps worst to his daughter Lisa, denying paternity for a long time. She ended up on welfare while he enjoyed his millions. But hey, at least we all have cool phones now, right?

Winston Churchill's racism ended up killing a lot of people

It's not many people who are so great they get to be on money. But Winston Churchill is such a hero that he got his face on the 5 pound note and was once voted the greatest Briton of all time. He was a brilliant leader in wartime and was critical in helping defeat the Nazis. Which is weird considering a lot of his views sound shockingly similar to Hitler's.

Churchill was a Class A racist. And because he had lots of power, his racism got people killed. According to the Independent, this was at the time when the U.K. ruled India, and Churchill hated Indians. He called them "a beastly people with a beastly religion." This might be part of the reason he decided to let three million of them starve to death. During a famine he continued to export huge amounts of rice that would have helped the hungry people, and he even turned down aid offers from other countries to India.

But it wasn't just Indians. He hated everyone equally. Once he talked about spearing tribesmen in Afghanistan. When he was in charge of Kenya he set up concentration camps that saw cases of mutilation, rape, and castration. And he believed in the use of poison gas, but just against Middle Easterners. If you're British, you've probably never wanted to spend money so fast just to get it out of your pocket, have you?

Albert Einstein was a really terrible husband

Albert Einstein is pretty much required to be on any list of geniuses. He was brilliant and came up with tons of new science, most of which goes completely over layman's heads. Let's go with E=mc2 and leave it there.

But one person who probably didn't think Einstein was all that was his long-suffering first wife, Mileva Maric. According to the New York Times, his correspondence showed he could be brutal to her and cruel to their two sons. It was one letter that really laid out just how bad things had gotten. After their marriage started deteriorating, Einstein thought it would be a good idea to send his wife a list of all the rules she would have to follow if they were going to stay married. And the list (via Lists of Note) has "jerk" written all over it.

She still had to do his laundry and make him three meals a day, which he would eat alone because screw you, wifey. His space had to be cleaned but she had to leave it when told. And their marriage was going to be completely devoid of intimacy which she was not allowed to ask for. Plus, she had to shut up when he told her to. Despite all this she was never allowed to say anything rude about him to the kids. No wonder she left Einstein a few months later.

Elia Kazan got people blacklisted

Elia Kazan was the brilliant director behind classics like On the Waterfront, East of Eden, and A Streetcar Named Desire. He helped found the prestigious Actor's Studio and helped launch many careers.

The American Scholar has the real story, though. In 1952 he was called in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and asked about a Communist group he had been a part of at a prestigious theater. Possibly to save his own butt, he named names: eight of them, to be exact. He didn't feel bad about doing this and even took out an ad in the New York Times two days later, urging other liberals to do the same thing he had. The people he had named were completely blacklisted, their careers ruined. Kazan's star would continue to rise.

Only three years later he would win the Oscar for best director for On the Waterfront, a movie about how being a snitch is totally cool. At the time there was no controversy, but that would change when he was given the Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1999. Actors including Sean Penn took out an ad decrying the decision. On the night, hundreds of protesters were outside the broadcast. When he received the award, actors like Ed Harris and Nick Nolte refused to stand for him or even clap.

Kazan never felt bad about what he did, writing in his 1988 autobiography that he did it out of his "true self."