Recently, we were apprised that the rarest of intellectual qualities, true genius, is merely an overdose of testosterone before birth.
You heard it here first and forgot it here first.
Recently, real news – of another child genius – has been making the rounds
At 12-years-old, Jacob Barnett is a genius. He’s already in college, his IQ is higher than Einstein’s, and for fun he‘s working on an expanded version of that man’s theory of relativity. So far, the signs are good. Professors are astounded. So what else does a boy genius with vast brilliance do in his free time? Disprove the big bang, of course.For a minute, just a minute, try and follow his logic. He explained his thinking recently to the Indianapolis Star:
According to those who study the phenomenon, while child geniuses usually grow up to be intelligent adults, few are super genius adults and many are creditable but not remarkable achievers. As one student of the subject puts it,
Gladwell cited a mid-1980s study (Genius Revisited) of adults who had attended New York City’s prestigious Hunter College Elementary School, which only admits children with an IQ of 155 or above. Hunter College was founded in the 1920s to be a training ground for the country’s future intellectual elite. Yet the fate of its child-geniuses was, well, “simply okay.” Thirty years down the road, the Hunter alums in the study were all doing pretty well, were reasonably well adjusted and happy, and most had good jobs and many had graduate degrees. But Gladwell was struck by what he called the “disappointed tone of the book”: None of the Hunter alums were superstars or Nobel- or Pulitzer-prize winners; there were no people who were nationally known in their fields. “These were genius kids but they were not genius adults.”
The other way to look at precocity is of course to work backward — to look at adult geniuses and see what they were like as kids. A number of studies have taken this approach, Gladwell said, and they find a similar pattern. A study of 200 highly accomplished adults found that just 34 percent had been considered in any way precocious as children. He also read a long list of historical geniuses who had been notably undistinguished as children — a list including Copernicus, Rembrandt, Bach, Newton, Beethoven, Kant, and Leonardo Da Vinci (“that famous code-maker”). “None of [them] would have made it into Hunter College,” Gladwell observed.
Sometimes they end up as unhappy failures.
Which only makes the nature of genius more elusive.