Member Rara Avis
Not to get too far off topic, but I'll admit I grossly oversimplified color theory, which is far more complex than simple wavelengths. I'm not at all sure, however, where you pulled your three criteria from, Brad. When you talk about absorption and emission spectrum (additive versus subtractive, and not easily mixed), we're in the same ball park, but when you throw in spectral response you're getting into perception and not definition. If you change either of the two former characteristics you also change the wavelength (or, more correctly, the spectrum) and thus the color. But if you change the response you may change the color for one person, but not for the Standard Observer.
Standard Observer? Color is the perceptual result of light in the visible region of the spectrum, having wavelengths in the region of 400 nm (nanometers) to 700 nm. Radiance (physical power) is expressed in a spectral power distribution (SPD), with 31 components each representing a 10 nm band. There are exactly three types of color photoreceptor in the human eyes, so exactly three numerical components are necessary and sufficient to describe a color. This is the concern of the science of colorimetry. In 1931, the Commission Internationale de L'Éclairage (CIE) adopted standard curves for a hypothetical Standard Observer. These curves specify how an SPD can be transformed into a set of three numbers that specifies a color.
My oversimplification deals with spectral versus non-spectral colors. A spectral color is one which the eye can perceive based on a single wavelength of light. Violet is a spectral color, but purple (a combination of red and blue, whose corresponding cone sensitivity curves do not overlap) is a non-spectral color. White is also a non-spectral color; it is perceived when all three cone types are stimulated by light.
Yea, it's a bit more complex than I suggested. But I don't think that, in any way, changes my point. Color is quantifiable, whether you do it through wavelengths, spectrum, or CIE criteria, and isn't based on public opinion. One might argue that the label attached to the color (blue) is a statistical mean derived from the population, but that same argument applies to ALL labels. A dog is a dog only because everyone agrees to call it that. But eating the wrong mushrooms won't change it into a spider, even if the perception does change, and it certainly won't change the quantifiable characteristics of the animal.
To argue the origins of genius, I think we need the same kind of quantifiable definition, whether it be IQ scores or creativity (my preference) or something entirely different. If genius is a function of intelligence, it is almost certainly nature (genetical). If it is "a different way of looking at things," it is quite possibly nurture (environmental). If genius is defined by accomplishments then, again, it may not really matter.
In one sense, I suspect a color analogy is particularly apt - because, like color, genius is probably the culmination of several characteristics.