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, December 29, 2008

The triviality of modern medicine.

So much about modern life is trivial - even, it seems, at times, medicine.

I will explain. There is a glaucoma drug called Lumigan which had an unusual side effect (well, more than one unusual effect, but I will get to that). Commonly, users of Lumigan noticed that their eyelashes grew longer and thicker than before. So, being alert to any opportunity to make money, the pharmaceutical company behind Lumigan has remarketed Lumigan, the glaucoma drug, as Latisse, the eyelash-lengthening-plastic-surgery-in-a-pill-drug.

On hearing this news, I found myself quietly astonished. Now, there is a drug to lengthen eyelashes...and people actually want it. Journalists in the news piece I saw, interviewed women who said that they would "take the drug for the rest of their lives". The estimated cost of the drug, by one doctor, was over 100 US dollars per month, for the privilege of elongated eyelashes.

What kind of world do we live in, in which companies would actually develop drugs to lengthen eyelashes - and people would actually buy them? To my, perhaps old-fashioned way of looking at things, this preoccupation with minor details of appearance seems appallingly trivial. I cannot imagine anyone or anything more superficial than the lifelong consumption of a medical drug purely to lengthen one's eyelashes.

Interestingly, this drug, Latisse, has another side effect that its consumers might not be so keen on. Users of Lumigan, for glaucoma, also noticed that their irises tended to darken over time: light blue eyes, would darken and become brown, for instance. This is a permanent change in iris colour that cessation of the drug does not reverse. However, progression of the darkening stops once the drug is no longer consumed.

I wonder how many people are going to start consuming this drug? If it becomes popular, long eyelashes might become universal - and everyone would have dark eyes: blue eyes would become something only young children have, before they lose them to Latisse.

I would like to think that it is just my own sensibilities becoming more demanding, as I get older, but, it seems to me, that the world we live in, is becoming one of the most trivial Ages there has ever been. People are preoccupied with matters of such triviality (and superficiality) that not one thought should be devoted to them - yet they are major matters of attention, for so many. People devote their lives to pointless activities; people spend money on useless commodities - and people actually take drugs to change the length of their eyelashes. It is all mind-bogglingly stupid.

As for know, the Ancients may not have known much, but I rather think they were trying to address serious issues, and did not overly concern themselves with the length of eyelashes.

Which would you rather have? A cure for a major illness...or long eyelashes? The same research and development funds that are committed to nonsense like "eyelash extending drugs" could have been committed to matters of greater import. When the trivial is allowed a voice, it tends to crowd out matters of more substance. No drug company should be devoting funds to trivial projects, when there are so many untreatable, or inadequately treatable, illnesses in this world that need attention.

Once, medicine was a serious calling and drug manufacturers were serious businesses engaged in matters of great importance to us all. Not anymore, however: now we can look forward to a plethora of drugs for every trivial issue that ever concerned the most trivial of people. However, I bet you one thing: the serious diseases will still be incurable - and enough attention will fail to be devoted to them.

Perhaps it comes down to one thing: more people have eyelashes than have cancer - so why not treat "short eyelashes" and make money, rather than "treat cancer" and save lives (and make money, too)? It seems that triviality is an infectious disease and the pharmaceutical/medical establishment has caught a serious case of it. Perhaps it will be fatal. Let's hope so. Perhaps the doctors and pharmacologists who replace them will be a serious bunch, instead.

(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 @ 7:56 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ancients used substances like lead in their cosmetics :-p

Money talks (since forever) and sadly people with too much money (esp if inherited) tends to fritter it on the trival. Afterall it came too easily. And the "invisible hand" ensures that were there is demand, there will be supply.

The ideal world that you wish for is an impossiblity because mankind is flawed and the majority stupid .. see US-Bush, Nazi Germany-Hitler.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The Ancients used lead because it was white, that is all - they wanted something to lighten the complexion. I don't think they understood what they were doing re. health.

Yes. I couldn't agree more - most people are stupid, but that is no reason to let them run the world - and plenty of reason to prevent them from doing so. Stupidity shouldn't be indulged, but sidelined.

Thanks for your comment.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose, when there's a demand, there's a supply.

Don't underestimate women's desire of beauty. There are people who would go great lengths (if they can afford it) to make themselves more beautiful).

At present women are already going for (artificial) eyelash lengthening, perming, using fake lashes, mascara to have long lashes. So when there's a pill that would take away all the hassle of doing all the above, I guess this is a gift from heaven. LOL.

8:00 AM  

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