With irresistibly persuasive vigor, David Shenk debunks the long-standing notion of genetic “giftedness,” and presents dazzling new scientific research showing how greatness is in the reach of every individual.
DNA does not make us who we are. “Forget everything you think you know about genes, talent, and intelligence,” he writes. “In recent years, a mountain of scientific evidence has emerged suggesting a completely new paradigm: not talent scarcity, but latent talent abundance.”
Integrating cutting-edge research from a wide swath of disciplines—cognitive science, genetics, biology, child development—Shenk offers a highly optimistic new view of human potential. The problem isn't our inadequate genetic assets, but our inability, so far, to tap into what we already have. IQ testing and widespread acceptance of “innate” abilities have created an unnecessarily pessimistic view of humanity—and fostered much misdirected public policy, especially in education.
The truth is much more exciting. Genes are not a “blueprint” that bless some with greatness and doom most of us to mediocrity or worse. Rather our individual destinies are a product of the complex interplay between genes and outside stimuli-a dynamic that we, as people and as parents, can influence.
This is a revolutionary and optimistic message. We are not prisoners of our DNA. We all have the potential for greatness.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Genius in All of Us|
|Release Date: 03-09-2010|
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|Publisher: Knopf Group E-Books|
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The Genius in All of Us
How Genes Really Work
Contrary to what we’ve been taught, genes do not determine physical and character traits on their own. Rather, they interact with the environment in a dynamic, ongoing process that produces and continually refines an individual.
The sun begins to rise over an old river town, and through a fifth- floor window of University Hospital, a newborn cries out her own birth announcement. Her new, already sleep-deprived parents hold her tightly and simply stare, partly in disbelief that this has actually happened, partly in awe of what lies ahead. As she develops, who will she look like? What will she be like? What will be her strengths, her weaknesses? Will she change the world or just scrape by? Will she run a quick mile, paint a new idea, charm her friends, sing for millions? Will she have any talent for anything?
Only the years will tell. For right now, the parents don’t really need to know the final outcome—they just need to know what sort of difference they can make. How much of their newborn daughter’s personality and abilities are already predetermined? What portion is still up for grabs? What ingredients can they add, and what tactics should they avoid?
The fuzzy mix of hope, expectation, and burden begins . . .
TONY SOPRANO: And to think [I’m] the cause of it.
DR. MELFI: How are you the cause of it?
TONY SOPRANO: It’s in his blood, this miserable fucking existence. My rotten fucking putrid genes have infected my kid’s soul. That’s my gift to my son.
Genes can be scary stuff if you don’t understand them. In 1994, psychologist Richard Herrnstein and policy...