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, September 10, 2007

Precocity, child prodigy and achievement.

What advantage is there to be being a child prodigy? Does precocity imply greater ultimate achievement? These are important questions for a society, for it helps to know who best to nurture, for the greatest beneficial outcome.

Two Chinese scientists have already answered this question, through their research.

The paper, "Life span and the precocity of scientists", by Zhao Hongzhou and Jiang Gouhua, the former at the Institute of Physics, Academia Sinica, Beijing, (People's Republic of China) and the latter at the Beijing Research Center of Science, Beijing, (People's Republic of China), addressses this issue.

The key observation of this paper is that scientists who embark on their career early and make their name by the time they are 25 years old, eclipse their older counterparts, greatly. Using this selection criteria alone (that of an early start), the precocious scientists exhibited a 44 per cent increase in lifetime achievements and a 1.7 times "life efficiency" index (meaning as it seems).

Now, I can't, at this moment clarify the meaning of the life efficiency statement, because I do not have full access to the paper. I once read the whole paper - a long, long time ago - but have not seen anything but abstracts since. I suppose I should have downloaded it.

Yet, the intent is clear: precocity, at least in scientists, but presumably in all areas, leads directly to greater lifetime achievement.

I recall something else from my original reading which is telling. These scientists were precocious - but not by much. They were only a few years ahead of their peers. They were not in the prodigious range - they were mid-teenagers or so, upon going to University - yet even this advantage of two or three years or so, led to a great difference in lifetime output.

I wonder, therefore, how much greater would the lifetime achievement of true prodigies be: with their many year advantage over their peers?

So, for those who question the value of precocity: there is your answer. A precocious scientist is worth a lot more, in terms of real achievement, than a non-precocious one.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and nine months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and two months, and Tiarnan, nineteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:36 AM 


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