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 +

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The importance of telling the truth.

The Beijing Olympics 2008 will long be remembered. However, I rather feel it is going to be remembered for the wrong things. The Beijing Olympics will be remembered for what it was not: truthful.

Firstly, we learnt that the "fireworks" on the opening night, were little more than a computer operator's imagination. Now, we have learnt that the girl who "sang" the opening ceremony was just a pretty replacement for the girl who actually sang. The Beijing Olympics 2008 is becoming known not for its spectacle, but for its lies and deceptions.

It seems clear that the Communist party Politburo wishes to present an image of a perfect China to the world. China is to be a country where fireworks obey their every command and explode in perfect dashes of colour. China is to be a country where the best singers in the land also happen to be the prettiest. China is a country which wins more medals than anyone else (it remains to be seen whether and how that one will be achieved.)

Sadly, China is not what China wishes to appear to be. China is a large, repressed, overly-controlled state in which the individual suffers a curtailment of basic freedoms. It is not a state to be admired or envied. It is something else, something darker. China is a model which the rest of the world should learn from - in a negative sense - that is, it is a lesson in how not to be.

We all know what China is (unless we are believers in propaganda, without thinking about it). However, it is instructive to take a look at what China has prevented itself from being seen to be.

What if China had allowed the actual 7 year old girl singer to sing at the Olympics? What effect would it have had on world opinion and the view of China if they had allowed the "buck-toothed" young girl to sing? Think about it for a moment.

I don't know your understanding - but I know this: the view of China would have been ENHANCED had they allowed the actual singer to sing in the stadium. Now, why do I say that China's reputation would have been better with a buck-toothed singer than with a pretty little model-like girl? Well, it is simple. Had China shown the buck-toothed girl with the wonderful voice, they would have been sending a global message that China values talent above superficial issues such as appearance. They would have been telling the world that China is a deep nation, with deep values, not swayed by trivialities. They would have sent a message that China had matured as a nation and was not moved by inconsequentialities. However, what they did instead was hide the girl whose voice was singing because she just wasn't pretty enough - and replace her with a pretty girl who PRETENDED to sing. China preferred a superficial lie to a deeper truth. China has thus revealed itself as many things: trivial, dishonest, short-sighted, stupid (for not knowing how damaging such deception would be) and deceitful. China has shown itself, once again, to be a nation that should not and cannot be admired or respected.

Yang Peiyi, 7, the buck-toothed girl with the beautiful voice was an opportunity for China to show itself to be a great nation, supportive of its people, proud of their gifts. It would have been far better for China to show such a girl to the world - an honest face of China, if you like - than to have set-up a calculated lie to deceive the world. The lie was a simple one: that China, statistically, has so many great singers that they can afford to choose a pretty one, too. Clearly, that is not so. Out of thousands of auditionees, they could not find one who was both a good enough singer and pretty enough (in their view) to go on TV. Thus we can conclude that China is not overflowing with talent in such areas - if it were, it would not have been difficult to find a girl both talented and cute in 1.4 billion people. So, China has shown us, by their effortful lie, that China is not as burdened with talents as one might suppose. Many things are revealed by their action.

China has lost a great opportunity to show itself as a great nation. It is, instead, revealing itself, step by step, as a place that just cannot stop lying - even when the spotlight of the world is on its every move.

I cannot help but feel sorry for the little girl who almost became a star. Her voice has been heard by billions - but I do not even know her face. Instead, the stand-in, without enough talent to be allowed to sing, made it to the front page of the New York Times. So, a girl whose only talent we are aware of is that she is quite pretty (but not very), and with an ability to lip synch becomes world famous - but the best girl singer China could find remains unknown. That is a tragedy of a kind that may destroy the little girl's life. Imagine if she never succeeds as a singer (if that is what she wants to be). Imagine how much regret she will feel at being side-lined at the Olympics, despite being the voice of it? She has been set-up for a regretful life - and all because China is too shallow to allow a less than pretty girl be seen by the world.

The other girl's life, too, promises to be a tragedy of a different kind. She has become famous for something she is not and cannot do. Her fame is a lie that will follow her for the rest of her life. That, too, is not much fun.

So, two girl's lives have been sacrificed for the greater glory of the People's Republic of China. In doing so, however, China has sacrificed something else, too: the best opportunity they have had in decades for cultivating a positive world opinion of one of the world's least free places.

Here is something for you to dwell on. It takes great courage for anyone who knows the truth of what China is doing regarding the Olympics to come out and tell that truth. One such courageous person is Chen Qigang, general music designer for the Olympics - for it was he who revealed that Yang Peiyi, 7, had been sidelined for Lia Miaoke, 9, on account of her "buck-teeth". The question is how many lies and deceptions will we never find out about because no-one is courageous enough to come out about them?

There is an irony in that the Olympics are always talking about uncovering the doping and cheating of athletes - well, how about the different kind of cheating that the organizers themselves are engaged in? So far, two deceptions have been many more are there unknown to us?

As for buck-toothed Yang Peiyi, did no-one think that all she needed was a good dentist, not a stand-in? It seems that even with a rumoured 40 billion dollar Olympic budget they couldn't spare the change needed to correct Yang Peiyi's teeth and spare China from the shame of another world renowned lie. Or maybe they don't have any good dentists in China, either (along with no pretty and talented singers!)

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:19 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A much respected Singaporean blogger, Mr Wang, recently had a guest blogger, Mr Adrian Tan, who was advising the readers about the importance of NOT telling the truth.

Anyway, you should be grateful. Had it not for the Confucian scholars (Ming & Qing dynasties) insistence on blind obedience over truth ... Singaporeans might be blogging about the Brits' incompetence in the chinese language ;-)


2:53 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi No Name,

Mr Adrian Tan is talking about discretion in company, I believe. China is not being discrete by lying, they are just lying - it seems to be a different situation.

I am grateful that China's social and political model is not the world norm. I do believe that were it so we would be suffering under a terrible period of intellectual, cultural, spiritual and emotional stagnation - for that is what China has been doing to itself for centuries. Oh...but they have economic progress. Great.


6:17 PM  
Anonymous David said...

you are right on. There is something wrong about Asian culture be in China and Singapore where image is more important than substance, where the end always justifies the means as long as it meet its objective. Lies, deception and deceit is generally found in fast growing economic country who will resort to anything to window-dress. Singapore is one very good example. China is another. Both worship each other. Am I surprised ? Birds of same feather flock together, and leopards never change their spots.

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the underage Chinese "women's" gymnastics team?


9:54 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, indeed. That is just another case that has come to many more lies, deceptions and cheats are going on?

In some ways, it feels like Soviet era East Germany, in which anything was done to win.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Valentine,

My name is Y2K, I am the new director general of the FILB.

I like this piece very much, it somehow hits the nail on the head without beating around the bush too much.

One of the messages I think is you are trying to say even all the bird nest stadiums and watercube pools in the world cannot really stand in for what should really count in this age - real values presumably.

Agreed completely.

Recently, my team and I reconstituted an article that echoed some of the themes you wrote abt. In part at least.

I have taken the liberty of including the link here for your benefit and your readers.

I hope it adds value to the subject.

Best Regards


12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And somebody was ever so proud that the world hates Singapore because China and Russia is learning from us ....

I am sad that we chinese are still so hung up on form over subtance after 5000 years of civilisation.

Hope they will learn their lesson.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, we should all face up to the reality that the Olympic Games has long been politicised by Governments. There is now a bigger agenda beyond merely "sports" and "sportsmanship". - IrCTP

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do wonder - if the underage thing comes to light and is confirmed, will China be stripped of their titles like the doping case??

12:46 PM  
Blogger Miao said...

This reminds me of the entry you wrote on plagiarism. China is basically telling its people: It is all right to claim credit for other people's contributions. If Stephen Hawking were born in China, the government probably would have felt ashamed of him - of his physical disabilities, of his inability to speak - in spite of his brilliance and ingenious achievements. This might sound like an exaggeration, but who knows? Maybe the Chinese government would have attributed all his scientific discoveries to someone who is fairly good-looking and attractive. Shouldn't we all be glad that Hawking wasn't born in China?

Lia Miaoke is too young to make decisions on her own, so it was probably her parents who agreed to the arrangement on her behalf. I am afraid to find out what kind of person Lia Miaoke would grow up to be. With parents who have no qualms about claiming undeserved credit (they probably wanted to show off to their relatives and friends that their daughter was so special and 'talented'), Lia Miaoke most likely would grow up with the wrong morals under such bad influence.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Your thinking, Miao, regarding Stephen Hawking is an apt example and speculation. The attitude expressed in China is, indeed, one that would hide a Hawking and promote a Chinese "Brad Pitt", in his stead.

As for Lia Miaoke - I have to agree regarding the parents: they have participated in a global lie which will follow their daughter as long as she lives. I wonder how she will feel about it when she grows up? Will she be ashamed? Or will she revel in the falsely won fame?

Best wishes

1:27 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Regarding the stripping of titles for the underage gymnasts: if proven, I would assume that would be the case. The problem here is that the holder of the age records (the Chinese government) is also the potential perpetrator. I think it is going to be difficult to get them to incriminate themselves.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes IrCTP, it does seem rather like the old days of a battle of political systems and ideologies. Now it is China trying to prove that its system (that of national oppression and conformity) is better than the West's (that of individual freedom and expression).

1:32 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

A nation is in trouble if China and Russia are able to learn from them. It is strange that certain people don't see that.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you Y2K for the piece to which you link: interesting and complimentary, in some ways, to the piece I have written. I will perhaps comment further later.


7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel embarassed as a Singaporean that the political editor of my country's only mainstream newspaper keeps writing syconphantic articles that insult the people's intelligence. And I am even more embarrassed that there are people (a minority I hope) who agree with her writing.....

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't help but go off topic and agree with NoName. That Adrian Tan lawyer is a total cop out when he said truth is a luxury. The sad state of Singapore's legal profession really.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You are quite right. It is disgusting in a very profound way, that lawyers have so little respect for the truth. That, of course, calls into question the whole of the legal system - after all, what does it mean when those who pursue advocate lying at all costs?

12:30 AM  

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