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Fact Check: Newspaper and Magazine Articles about W. J. Sidis at the Time of His Death

Compiled by Dan Mahony, M.Phil.

(Articles follow.)


TIME, July 31, 1944
“Boris Sidis filled scientific journals with articles about his son…”


As Boris's Bibliography shows, he wrote no articles about his son. Philistine and Genius is a book about education in general in which he argues for early childhood educationof the first psychologists to do so.


New York Times, July 18, 1944
"His father, a distinguished psychotherapist, wrote articles and books about him, made the child his guinea pig."

Boston Traveler, July 19, 1944
"...rebellion against being pushed ahead..."  "...unwise pushing..."   "...victim of experiment..."


See "The Sidis Story," Chapter 5, written by his mother Dr. Sarah Sidis. His parents simply provided him with the books. Young William did the rest. "He asked me a question one day, and then triumphantly said, 'But you will say, "Let's look it up!" and I can look it up myself!' That is the last lesson I gave Billy. During the day he would go occasionally to his room and close the door and read. He never studied."


TIME, July 31, 1944
“In 1910 the world learned with alarm that he had suffered a nervous breakdown…”

New York Times, July 18, 1944
"He broke down at Harvard; when he got back from the sanitarium he was shy, distrustful, averse to companionship."


"His death in 1944 as an undistinguished figure was made the occasion for reawakening the old wives tales about nervous breakdowns, burned out prodigies and insanity among geniuses."Dr. Abraham Sperling in Psychology for the Millions, 1946

As his Harvard Transcript shows, there was no interruption of his studies, he achieved high grades, and graduated cum laude. Secondly, the family lived at the Sidis Psychotherapeutic Institute, hence his presence there when school was off.


Boston Traveler, July 17, 19, 1944
"...apparently destitute..." "Hub prodigy dies penniless."

Boston Herald, July 18, 1944


As his financial documents show, he had $650 in the bank which is equivalent to more tham $8000 today.   Inflation Calculator


New York Daily News, July 23, 1944
"For the second fifteen years [of his life], maladjusted to society, frightened and alone, he fought the world."


"Sidis had plenty of loyal friends. All of them found his ideas stimulating and his personality likable."―Shirley Smith Letter to the Editor

Sidis went to Harvard Law School at age 18. Harvard Transcript


New York Times, July 18, 1944
"The best study of his character was written by Jared L. Manley for The New Yorker."


In his lawsuit againstThe New Yorker, Sidis said that nearly all of the article was untrue and so listed only the few actual facts. See also his letter to Julius Eichel.


TIME, July 31, 1944

 TIME stooped to publishing this distorted picture of him.


Last but not least, to entitle an obituary of a person “Prodigious Failure” was a low-point in the history of American journalism. A public apology to his memory is long overdue.

"I am thoroughly familiar with his desire to avoid publicity and his friends' wishes to observe that desire. However, since the appearance of so many distorted news and magazine articles about Bill since his passing, a true and worthy account of the noble spirit and motives that guided Bill Sidis through life is more than justified."―Dr. Abraham Sperling in Letter to Julius Eichel





            Boston Traveler, July 18, 1944








                                                            New York Times, July 18, 1944.



      New York Daily News, July 23, 1944



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