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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, January 12, 2009

Old and Childless.

So many, today, are old and childless. It doesn't bode well for the future of the world, for you know who these "old and childless" people are: ones with something to offer future generations.

Personally, I know several who are old but childless, who have lived full lives but never become parents. A short description of them is enough to cause alarm among those who care for the future genetic quality of Mankind. One of them has the best autobiographical memory I have ever encountered: he remembers his life in the most exquisite detail, despite being in his late sixties. He has never had a child and never will. His gift, for profound memory, will never be passed on.

I know others, too. One is a businessman and non-fiction writer. He is very intelligent and energetic and has qualities which any child would love the chance to have inherited from a parent. He is in his seventies, has never fathered a child and never will.

I know another who is actually a well-known fiction writer, of high quality literary fiction. He is about sixty, is unmarried (though has "girlfriends") and is very unlikely to have a child: he has said he doesn't want to be a parent because he doesn't think he would make a good one. I look at his written work and see a gifted man who will never pass on his gift.

I know another who is a former physicist, who is now a well-known photographer. He is old, but doesn't reveal his age. He is one of the brightest people I know of. He too has never had a child and doesn't want one - for the same reason as the one above: he is critical of himself and doesn't believe he would be a good father. His fine mind has not and will not be passed on.

Finally, there is someone I do not personally know: Robert Sawyer, who is a science fiction author of broad and deep talent. He is not yet old but is adamant that he will never have a child. As far as I remember he prefers to live on in "memes". In other words, he doesn't want a child to interfere with his attention to his creative work. He too will die without having passed on his genetic gifts. Rather appallingly, in his case, he has no relatives who are bearing children - so his entire line is dying out, with him. I find it strange that he doesn't see tragedy in this.

There are many such bright, gifted, elderly people without children in this world. It has become almost fashionable to be "unencumbered" and able to focus exclusively on one's own interests. I think all who are like this have missed the point of life - which is that it must continue, that the line must not be broken and that one must have children, who in turn have children. Otherwise, all that one is, will pass and be no more.

My friends are all very gifted, but it saddens me that they have all either decided against children or never found the right relationship in which to have them. All that they are, will pass away and there will be no more like them. Some of them have very special gifts, but all that will be gone.

This trend began with the widespread availability of contraception in the early 19th century. It has spread throughout the world with the more intelligent of each population being more likely to have few or no children. Thus it is that the world is becoming dumber each generation (see the detailed work of Richard Lynn in this regard).

The future of Man cannot be a gifted future, a bright future, a creative future if its gifted members don't raise families. What can be seen now is that Man is in decline. The day might come when Man's civilization itself might fail for the want of intelligent people to sustain it.

The old and childless might have their reasons for being so. Yet, they are doing the future of Man a disservice if they also happen to have any special gift of any kind. The future needs such gifts.

In the light of this, I am very content to be a father. Yes, it is true that being so interferes with one's own interests, work and passions. Yes, it is true that those who have chosen to be childless have more freedoms - but, at the same time, there is a lot that they miss. Live is richer and more rewarding for a parent than a non-parent. There is a lot I get to see, witness and understand that my childless friends never do and never will. On balance, being a parent is a richer experience than being a non-parent. Even knowing the "advantages" that my childless friends have, I would not swap my situation for theirs. Indeed, having known my situation, were I placed in their situation, I would mourn for the life I had lost.

It is true that my old, gifted and childless friends are enjoying their lives. They are creating interesting things. But are they missing out on something deeper? Have they missed the real point of life? Will they come to regret what they have omitted to create: a child of their own?

I know, I would.

(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: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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 @ 3:54 PM 

4 Comments:

Blogger Miao said...

Steven Pinker is also voluntarily childness.

I told a friend that Kant never married in his whole life. My friend commented that it was a pity, considering that Kant was such a genius. He could've passed on his genes to future generations. And then I commented that brilliant parents do not necessarily give birth to brilliant children - for a good example, just look at LKY (who was brilliant in his youth) and his son (who has never been brilliant at any stage of his life)...

Another example is Einstein. His descendants don't seem to be particularly ingenious at all. Sometimes I wonder if these brilliant people are just anomalies in the family tree.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is a myth that Einstein's children never amounted to anything. One of his sons was an engineering professor who published quite a lot of papers. Admittedly, he wasn't in the class of his father...but then he was a good and gifted professor which is not nothing.

It is true that the children of brilliant parents may or may not be as brilliant. Genetic inheritance is a random process. However it IS true that a child of brilliant parents is INFINITELY more likely to be brilliant than the child of dull parents. Just look at the Bach family...generation after generation of musical gift. They certainly passed it down. There are many father/mother child pairings of great gift throughout history...you just have to go looking for them. I think I should post on it...in fact, I have. Some families have had Nobel Prizes in two generations, for instance.

As for LKY..it depends on your scale of measurement. Some people would say he was brilliant in his youth...but others would look at him and measure themselves against him and say that he was never brilliant, as such, more good at spotting an opportunity. It depends on viewpoint. I take no stand on the issue because I don't know enough about his early days.

If a brilliant person has enough children, some of them will also be brilliant. I have observed this often in life. You may miss with one...but if you have several some will hit home. All you need to do to pass on your gift is to have some kids.

They are not anomalies in the family tree. Often such families have gift running through several generations before it comes to note in one individual: the whole family tends to be rather gifted. It is like a good plant growing in good soil: it doesn't get so tall without good reason.

I note that Einstein married his cousin. I don't know if he had kids by her but generally marrying cousins can lead to problems. He also married someone else...earlier. I will have to look into the kids issue there.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous saint splattergut said...

no one is born great. one can be born with privileges, but if left unnurtured, that will amount to close to nothing with the passing of time.

don't feel sorry for the world! :)

people will always heed their calling and go to them... though many are lost in the sea of life before they reach their covetted lighthouse.

wishing the best for your kids, sir!

-SS

3:05 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Some people are born with great potential - and if those who were so born don't have kids, fewer people with great potential will be born. A decline is inevitable in such circumstances.

Thank you for your well wishes.

Best wishes to you too.

6:57 AM  

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