The Strange Side of Smart: 20 Bizarre Things Brilliant People Do

While the world never fails to commend brilliance with awards, medals, street names, and printed faces on money, it does fail to remember the quirkiness that comes with a bright mind. It’s a given; exceptional people are unlike anyone else, but sometimes these people’s behaviors are so different that they reach levels of just plain weird.

Although the world’s most renown scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and philosophers look like total big shots today, they have had their days getting picked on for being different. Nobody touched on this better than Bill Gates; “be nice to nerds, they’ll probably be your boss one day.” Popular Everything did some extensive internet digging to provide you with the odd things these “nerds” used to do. Some of these quirky habits might throw you for a loop.

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is known as a genius filmmaker. He specialized in the horror genre, making this strange and creepy fact about him bring on little to no surprise.

Hitchcock had a dark sense of humor, and he often played practical jokes on people on set. Once he added food coloring to a meal turning all the food blue. One of his darker pranks involved giving Tippi Hedren’s six-year-old daughter a doll inside a mini coffin. The doll was made to look like her mother.

Nikola Tesla

Without Nikola Tesla’s understanding of electricity, the world would likely be years behind in the technological world. His success might even make this wacky habit worth a try.

Before going to bed, Tesla would curl his toes 100 times. He believed it would boost his brain cells. While there is no scientific evidence to prove that theory, there is a belief within the reflexology community that your big toe has a direct line to your brain.

Richard Buckminster Fuller

Architect and scientist, Buckminster Fuller, is renown for popularizing the widely used geodesic dome. He also published more than 30 books. This makes sense since the brilliant mind spent the majority of his life writing in a diary.

Fuller updated his diary every 15 minutes from the years 1915-1983. He developed many of his designs and inventions through these entries. He also documented his philosophy and day to day life. When he died his journal measured 269 feet high.


Beethoven made sure his life would be as dramatic as his music… His strange habit was way over the top! Before composing, he would pace around the room for a few minutes, then dip his head in cold water.

The musician didn’t stop there. He would also pour water over his hands and did not stop until his clothes were wet. This habit was so excessive that water would even leak down to the neighbors below him.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, the legendary inventor, used a one of a kind method to interview people who wanted to join his team. Before checking any of the interviewee’s qualifications, he offered them a bowl of soup.

If the interviewee added salt before tasting the soup, he would not be considered to join Edison’s work. His reasoning: the person had too many assumptions.

Stephen King

Stephen King has a deep hatred for a very common part of the English language; adverbs. The thriller novelist famously stated, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.”

According to King, adverbs rob details and specificity from sentences. Many see King’s advice, which he detailed in his book “Stephen King On Writing- A Memoir of the Craft” as the ultimate guide to good writing. They, therefore, took his lead and also dismiss adverbs.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, one of the worlds most brilliant scientists, was also one of the most eccentric. He was actually a slow learner in his younger years, which Einstein later attributed to his success. His strange habits became more prominent as he got older.

Einstein would let his hair grow long to avoid barbers and felt strongly that socks were unnecessary. His driver also reported that he once saw him pick up a live insect from the floor and eat it.

Friedrich Schiller

Famous poet, Friedrich von Schiller would sniff rotting apples. Apparently, the scent triggered his creative juices. According to his wife, Charlotte, her husband “could not live or work without it.”

He kept rotting apples in the draws of his desk so that if he ever needed creative inspiration, he would take a quick whiff of one. With all the recent knowledge about apple cider vinegar’s benefits, there is a chance he might have been on to something.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of the lightning rod and the face on the hundred dollar bill, had a very strict morning routine. He would stand in front of a window for half an hour wearing nothing but his “birthday suit.”

In these 30 minutes, he would read as well as jot down as many creative ideas that came to mind. He called these “air baths.” He detailed his reasoning in a letter ” I have found it much more agreeable to my constitution to bathe in another element, I mean cold air.” He felt that cold water baths were too much of a shock to the system.

Edgar Allan Poe

America’s darkest author, Edgar Allan Poe, wanted to let editors read something that would stick…literally. He refused to write on anything but a scroll containing separate strips of papers that were attached by sealing wax.

He was also an extreme cat person. The writer considered his tabby cat, Catterina, his literary guardian who “purred as if in complacent approval of the world proceeding under her supervision.”

Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu

Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu is the creator of 3,300 inventions including the floppy disk. His ideas for these contributional inventions have bizarre origin stories.

In an attempt to stimulate his brain and induce creativity, Nakamatsu forced himself to stay underwater until the moments before drowning. He claimed that this is how he came up with some of his most genius ideas.

Warren Buffett

World-famous investor Warren Buffett claims to eat like a six-year-old. He drinks five cans of Coke a day, large amounts of Utz Potato sticks, and often has a bowl of ice cream for breakfast.

Buffett defends his diet saying, “I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among 6-year-olds, so I decided to eat like a 6-year-old.” He talks about this diet proudly, even saying that he is made up of “one-quarter Coca-Cola.”

Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino writes all his scripts by hand. This takes him hours to do. After his script is written up, he types it into a word processor. For some reason, he only types with one finger.

The long, tedious process is actually genius. It takes him so much time that it forces him to edit the script as he goes. When the work gets to be too much, he hands his draft over to a typist.

Steve Jobs

Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, had some very strange eating habits. Jobs would got long periods of time eating only one or two types of foods. These foods would range from carrots to….you guessed it, apples.

He once ate so many carrots that his skin even began to turn orange. Jobs would occasionally fast for long periods of time or eat as a fruitarian, which is a subset of veganism that involves only eating fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Anthony Trollope

Famous author Anthony Trollope had to stick to a very strict and unique routine which allowed him to publish over 47 novels over the course of 35 years. Since he was also working a demanding job at the post office, he needed to be strategic in order to find time for writing.

Trollope wrote for three hours every morning before work from 5 AM to 8 AM. He wanted to make sure he made the most out of these three hours so he timed his sessions with a pocket watch and made sure that he wrote 250 words every 15 min. By doing this he forced himself to remain focused.

Igor Stravinsky

The renown composer Igor Stravinsky had an unusual way to clear his mind in the mornings. He stood on his head for precisely 15 minutes before starting the day.

He felt these daily headstands provided him a sense of rest and clarity. Interestingly enough, headstands have been proven to increase concentration and many dedicated yogis incorporate them into their meditation practices.

Salvador Dalí

In addition to his obsession with wild cats and anteaters, Salvador Dali had a bizarre way of staying awake. His interesting napping method kept him from oversleeping. Dali would rest his mind by closing his eyes and sitting with a metal key at hand.

Below his hands was a metal plate. The moment he fell into a deep stage of sleep the key would fall out of his hands, land on the plate, and make a noise that would wake him up.

Mark Zuckerberg

It’s strange enough that there are theories about Mark Zuckerberg being a robot, but the strangeness doesn’t stop there. The inventor of one of the centuries most addictive social media platforms, Facebook, pledged only to eat animals that he himself hunted.

When announcing this commitment on his Facebook profile, he explained that he felt it was important to know where our food comes from. He also added that he hoped it would teach him greater discipline. This strange habit only went on for one whole year.

Lord Byron

Byron was an English poet who is often compared to Shakespeare. The poetic genius studied at Cambridge University and was very easy to spot. He’d be walking around campus with a pet bear.

Lord Byron desperately wanted a pet, and when the school ordered him to send back his dog, he sifted through Cambridge policies to find that while cats and dogs were prohibited, there were no specific prohibitions against bears!

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams, a former US President, made swimming his top priority over EVERYTHING. Every morning at 5:00 AM he swam in the river. This behavior turned into a plus for reporter Anne Royall.

She knew his routine, so she showed up at the river, stole his clothes and refused to give them back unless he answered her questions. That’s when she became the first female to interview an American President.

Jack Parsons

Jack Parsons is the genius who founded NASA’S Jet Propulsion Lab. The man was a genius and a visionary, but he was not without his downfalls. Parson’s was involved in a “semi-religious” cult.

His belief in the cult was so strong that he chanted a pagan hymn to “Pan” the cults god of nature, just before igniting his rockets. It was his work in rocket science that sparked his interest in the supernatural. He felt, just as he made the impossibility of exploring the universe possible, he could also apply his genius in the field of magic.

Nassim Taleb

Nassim Taleb is the genius statistician, risk analyst, and author who predicted the 2008 financial crisis. Taleb strongly believes that anything non-natural needs to prove its harmlessness before he can trust it. He sticks to this belief when it comes to his diet.

He won’t eat any sure or fruits that don’t have a Hebrew or ancient Greek name. That means no mangos or papayas. As for liquids, he’ll only drink wine water and pure coffee… go figure. He also goes to bed at 8:00 PM every night.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was the guy who invented the first thing you learn in every science class; The Scientific Method. He remained highly influential during the scientific revolution and proved himself a genius.

He also had a strange liking for working with a hangover. “I often like working with a hangover […] because my mind is crackling with energy and I can think very clearly,” he wrote.

Richard Feynman

One of the greatest physicists of our generation, Richard Feynman, had a very peculiar way of getting inspired for his next physics breakthrough. He frequented strip clubs and dranks heavily.

Feynman won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on quantum electrodynamics. He developed this very idea in a gentlemen’s club. Feynman was a strong believer in not caring what other people think. He felt this kept you from second-guessing or feeling doubtful.


The philosopher responsible for that theorem you might vaguely remember from high school, the Pythagorean theorem, sparked his creativity by starving himself.

For forty straight days, this genius would live off water alone. He believed it aided his perceptions and creativity. Some believe that starving himself was the ultimate cause of his death.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is hands down one of the greatest writers of his time, but this guy’s genius came with a dash of quirkiness. Dickens was said to be extremely OCD about his hair. He always had a comb on deck and would fix his hair hundreds of times a day.

He also constantly rearranged the furniture in his home. Dickens made sure that every bed he slept in was aligned north-south. He had an obsession for tidiness and even cleaned other homes besides his own.

Howard Hughes

One of the 20th centuries wealthiest men, Howard Hughes was a major germaphobe. He went to extreme measures to assure he did not come in contact with germs. Before he used a spoon, he would first have it wrapped in tissue and then cellophane on top.

He would also insist that anyone serving him food would cover their hands with paper towels. He even had a manual for his employees on how to properly serve his food. Hughes also reportedly walked around with Kleenex boxes on his bare feet.

Honoré de Balzac

There’s no doubt about it; a genius has a lot of work to do. While most people get in the zone by having a cup of coffee, genius playwright Honoré de Balzac had 50!

Honore was a novelist and a playwright who went down in history for his literary work. We owe him and coffee a big thanks for the contribution!

Jane Austen

Jane Austen wrote several novels that changed the literary world. She is most famously known for her novel “Pride and Prejudice.” This literary genius had a strange habit of her own.

Apparently, she was very protective over any of her unfinished work. She made sure no one would look at her drafts by making sure that her bedroom door would creak every time it was opened. That way, she would know if someone was entering her room in search of her work.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche was a grand thinker that contributed loads to the world of philosophy. In addition to his work as a philosopher, he was also a poet, a philologist, and a Greek and Latin scholar.

Nietzsche’s strange habits came along with a solid belief that valuable thoughts only came to mind while a person was walking. Of course, ADD was not diagnosable back then. “There I have caught you, nihilist!” he wrote. “The sedentary life … is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.”

Agatha Christie

Christie is big in the mystery novel world. She had a couple of strange habits. Agatha refused to write in an office. She would write her work wherever she felt worked for her at the current moment. This could range from a kitchen table to a hotel room.

Her other talent was making poisons. Apparently, the author had extensive knowledge of chemistry that she learned while she was a nurse. The mystery novelist could whip up a potion to put you under in no time.

Leonardo da Vinci

Da Vinci was not the biggest fan of sleeping. He had his own schedule when it came to rest. Da Vinci followed the polyphasic sleep cycle that involves very little amounts of sleep.

Every 24 hours, he would take a short nap and that was it. This probably explains how he got so much work done.

JK Rowling

The author that graced the world with the Harry Potter series is quite the genius. However, her habits get a little quirky when it comes to writing. Rowling came up with the plot to Harry Potter while she was commuting on the train.

She was too shy to ask people for a pen so she would mentally write down everything in her mind. She also avoided setting her mind on the destiny of her characters and allowed the ideas to marinate in her mind before she wrote anything down.