It was a short story; would have been published most likely 1950s-1980s.

He's born almost as an evolutionary throwback, being only able to use deductive reasoning in a society where mankind has evolved to use inductive reasoning & intuitively solve problems. He's pitied and I think he works as janitor in a museum as it's the only job he's suited for. In the end, he steals an old museum mothballed spaceship/rocket to seek a new life and it's revealed the authorities set it all up so he could do so as a kindness.

1 Answer 1


"Kindness" by Lester del Rey (Astounding, October 1944) is the story, and it's available here.

Last homo sapiens:

Homo sapiens! In the dim, remote days when his ancestors had owned the world, they had made jokes about it, shortening it to “homo sap,” and laughing, because they’d known no other species to rival them. It was no longer a joke Homo intelligens was now the master, and he was only a living fossil painfully aware that the old pun had become reality. Danny was the last man in a world of supermen

Inductive Reasoning:

Homo sapiens had invented reason to replace the uncertain trial-and-error thinking of the other animals, and had ruled supreme for a million years. Now homo intelligens had replaced that with full intuition that leaped from fact to condusion without going through the painful intermediate steps of reasoning, and the new supremacy was his.

Arranged "Escape"

Poor kid, I’d begun to think we waited too long, and that he never would make it. Another six months—and he’d have died like a flower out of the sun! Yet I was sure it would work when Miss Larsen showed me that story, with its mythical planetoid-paradises. A rather clever story, if you like pseudohistory; I hope the one I prepared was its equal.”


“Kindness, Kindness to repay with a few million credits and a few thousands of hours of work— plus a lie here and there—for all that we owe the boy’s race!” The professor’s voice was tired, as he dumped the contents of his pipe into a snuffer, and strode over slowly toward the great window that looked out on the night sky. “I wonder, sometimes, Bryant, what kindness Neanderthaler found when the last one came to die. Or whether the race that will follow us when the darkness falls on us will have something better than such kindness.”

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    Fascinating. I've long noted this weird trend in mid-20th c. SF that holds out "intuition" as a kind of magical superpower. This reference is yet another (fairly early) example. Commented Jun 22 at 21:53
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    I think it was an idea that Campbell liked
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 22 at 22:44
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    @Andrew - Along with psychic powers, Dianetics, and the superiority of humans over aliens. And perhaps not so coincidentally, the superiority of White Americans over Black Americans and all the other branches of humanity, and men over women. Quite a charming fellow, that Campbell. The roots of modern science fiction, it seems, are as dirty as those of anything else....
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 23 at 22:00
  • Scottish/English Americans above most others, too, as I recall.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 23 at 22:09
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    It seems an update in the basics of logic are needed! It is in fact only rarely used properly by humans who reason in some mix of low-energy, flaky ad-hoc logic (due to evident computational limits) + somewhat probabilistic reasoning (because one needs to perform a lot more evaluation than logic alone can provide). Anyway for "logic" we have this: Deduction, Induction, Abduction Commented Jun 23 at 22:33

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