The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, October 23, 2006

Genius IQ and Genetic Inheritance

If you have a genius child, where does that genius come from? The short answer is you...

There has been a century long nature-nurture debate regarding human intelligence: are we born great or are we made great? Does brilliance shine forth from the womb...or is it something grown laboriously later? Is genius a genetic gift, or the product of good education and parenting?

Uncomfortable though it may be for some, there is a strong answer to this question that has long been known. The evidence comes in the heritability of IQ. You see, if you have a gifted child, whether moderately gifted, highly gifted, exceptionally gifted, or profoundly gifted, there will be a strong correlation between the IQ of the parents and that of the child: gifted child implies gifted parents.

This correlation is not so clear in childhood, but strengthens as the child grows older, such that by the time the child is an adult, the correlation between the IQ of the parents, and the IQ of the child, as an adult, is 0.8. That is a very high correlation, considering that a correlation of 1.0 would indicate identity of IQ, and perfect correlation. There is, therefore, relatively little room for the influence of the environment on the IQ of the resulting adult: all that fuss about education and worries over parenting style, make relatively little difference to adult smartness.

In brief, if you have inherited smart genes, you are overwhelmingly likely to be a smart adult. If you have profoundly gifted parents, you too are likely to be profoundly gifted - or perhaps exceptionally gifted. The same story applies to your children: a genius IQ is an inherited gift, like so many other human atttributes.

As I have noted before, there are many other attributes to true genius, than just IQ test results - but it is one factor, and an important one, that has been proven to have a very high genetic heritability.

This post is, in a way, an extension of my comment in the previous post on Prodigy and Pushy Parents - myth or truth? You see those who bluntly accuse the parents of gifted children of pushy parenting should realize something: the true gift is in the genes - if it is there, it is there because of inheritance, not tutors and extra classes, and demanding the best from one's child. To blame another for their genes, is the height of foolishness - yet that is what, in effect, many other parents do, when confronted with the gifted child and their gifted parents.

Genius is a gift, so too is extreme intelligence, or intelligence of any degree. Cherish that inheritance, but realize that that is what it is: an inheritance - and thank your parents for it - as I do mine, here.

(For posts on Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, and his gifted brothers, go to: )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:37 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are no resources for gifted children in my community so I decided to homeschool my gifted son. I constantly hear comments about pushing him too hard. "Why make him do such advanced work, etc" I have never pushed-he just runs along quite happily. It is great to find a conversation that is not anti-gifted.

4:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, the latest New Scientist has an article on the heritability of various aspects of intelligence, but I daresay you have seen it already - "High-speed brains are in the genes".

12:23 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the tip re. the is more confirmatory evidence that giftedness is genetic.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

What are your opinions on the studies of Lazlo Polgar and Anders Ericsson?

1:19 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I think Polgar and Ericsson are motivated not by what is true, but by what they would like to be true. Both are profoundly mistaken for reasons which I will discuss in another venue (this is not the place or time). In some ways, their views are dangerous in that they lead to overlooking the needs of the gifted.

I will post on my blog when I have raised these issues in an appropriate venue.


1:47 PM  

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