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 +

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rapid drop in IQ of Thai children.

There is this idea that the world is getting smarter, due to the Flynn Effect. This was so, superficially, for several decades, as children simply got better at taking IQ tests. Yet, at the same time, there was evidence of dysgenic change - that is the increasing frequency of poorer genetic endowments, in comparison to better ones. Quite simply, average performance on tests was improving (perhaps due to more exposure to such tasks), but the underlying genetic quality was in decline. This has been so for a very long the West since the 19th century, at the least.

The problem is that smarter people tend to have fewer kids, since they tend to be the ones focussed on careers and personal ambitions, delaying families and ultimately having smaller ones. This has long been so.

Recent studies are showing a very different trend in the intellectual function of today's children, than the legend of the Flynn Effect suggests. A King's College London study that I referred to in another post, proved a 25% drop in cognitive function (it wasn't an IQ test, as such), in children of the same age compared across 15 years. That was a very disturbing result. Is this a British problem, or a global problem?

Well, a 2002 study performed in Thailand indicates that the problem is not localized.

In 1997 the average IQ of Thai children was 96.5 in Bangkok, 92.3 in the central region, 87.9 in the North. Five years later, in 2002, the figures were 94.6 in Bangkok, 88.8 in the central region and 84.2 in the North.

The children in both groups were 6 to 12 years old. Clearly, this is a very marked change in so short a time.

Should this trend continue for long, it would deletriously affect the whole future of the Thai nation. It would only be a matter of decades before the country would completely lack the mental wherewithal to perform many important functions at all. Where will the doctors come from? The scientists? The engineers? A small shift in mean iq greatly reduces the numbers of the gifted and talented - much more so than is widely realized.

It is likely that other countries face the same problem: the decline in intelligence of their children. I will try to gather relevant figures.

From this data, and the King's College data, the futures of Britain and Thailand promise to be very different from their presents. It is a difference no-one would welcome.

The question is: is this a completely global decline?

I really hope not.

However, I worry that it is - because the social forces that lead to just such a decline are common to all countries.

The future may not be as bright (in every sense of the word) as many people think...

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, 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 @ 9:17 PM 


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