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 +

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taking advantage

I had never been to a dentist before, in Kuala Lumpur, so I went to the first one whose address leaped from the pages of the internet, recommended, in a forum. It wasn't the best way to pick a dentist.

The dentist's office, itself, was well presented and clean. The equipment was up-to-date. Everything seemed efficient. What got me was the prices. I had just finished telling her how I had discontinued some work, at a dentist in Singapore, because I had thought his charges rather steep. She nodded sympathetically. I then inquired as to her price for the same procedure. She quoted me a price of two and a half thousand ringgits - just for the procedure itself and none of the support costs: consultation fees, X-rays and preparatory visits. I nearly coughed all over her. Her fee was even higher than the Singaporean fee...and yet she was based in KL where things are meant to be half the price.

The funny thing was, she didn't stop there. She argued dismissively about the merits of the procedure I had inquired about, saying it wouldn't last long "only a few years"...and argued for another procedure, which was "durable". I asked the cost, she said: "Not much: 8,000 RM."

Not much, indeed. "That sounds quite a lot to me."

She angled her mouth downwards and shook her head. "No. Not really. Not when you think of the quality and how long it lasts. You've got to think of the long term."

I took the conversation back to the procedure, but she shook her head slowly as if I had been slow to understand her point.

"You have got to think of the long term: do you know what I mean?"

I knew alright. She wanted me to opt for the most expensive procedure possible.

I left her office with a bill for several hundred ringgits "consultation fees".

The next day I called another dentist, on recommendation from a friend. I asked about the same procedure. "That would be 550 to 600 Ringgits". They were over four times cheaper. "Would that be an all in price?"


So, make that maybe six times cheaper, when her other costs are factored in.

I felt lucky to have checked around, before commiting myself to the first dentist. I have since called several more dentists and have found that ALL of them are much cheaper than she was. It seems that she prospers on the naivety of foreigners, since her practise was so positioned as to attract quite a few of them.

She taught me a good lesson here. She was dismissive of her own prices. She poo-pooed the idea that she was expensive - yet she turned out to be several times more expensive than the other dentists I called. Not only that, but she had argued for an alternative, much more expensive procedure than the one that was necessary. Perhaps the prices she gave me, were special ones, reserved for foreigners. I cannot know - but I know this: she seemed to be just taking advantage of my unfamiliarity with prices in KL.

So, if you are new in town, like me: be careful with the prices "professionals" charge. There are some out there, who will gouge you, given a chance.

By the way, do you know what is really funny about the online recommendation for the dentist I first went to? It said: "Moderate charges". I suppose she must have written the forum comment herself!

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:
Ainan's IMDB listing is at
Syahidah's IMDB listing is at

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is at

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 6:17 PM 


Blogger Christine said...

It's terrible how people like to take advantage of foreigners. It's done everywhere. I am glad you asked around for a good dentist.
Here in Korea I was surprised how cheap health care is. Yet, we get what we pay for. Doctors don't change gloves or wear them as often as what I would expect. Also, I have heard some use hand towels each time they wash their hands.
Speaking of dentists, I know of three foreigners who had wisdom teeth taken out when they didn't expect it. For two of them it was one tooth, for one it was two teeth. They just went in to have their mouth looked at and had some wisdom teeth taken out the same day without warning.
I paid about US$40 to have two wisdom teeth removed. One was impacted. They didn't put me out for it and it took at least 45 minutes to take them both out. I wanted to cry.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Valentine,

So you did end up paying the consultation fee? Why didn't you protest, since it didn't sound from your post that you spent a long time with the dentist.


11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moderate charges, indeed. That is funny! :) I'm glad you checked around beforehand. Thank you for the life lesson.

- Carina -

10:47 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Sadly, I paid the consultation fee because, at that time, I did not know what was normal charging practice at dentists in Malaysia: I had no way of judging whether she was being unreasonable or not. It was only when I called around, later, that I learnt just how expensive she was being.

Had I known the true situation, I would have objected.

11:23 AM  

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