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 +

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is the future Asian?

I had to ask. You see, very recent experience leads me to wonder where the future epicentre of the world will be. I have the inkling that it might not be in the West for much longer.

Now, the experience that leads me to wonder whether the future is Asian is one that offers the same chance to all nationalities, but then allows me to observe their differing reponses. It was not a deliberate experiment, but it has turned out to be most informative.

On Wednesday 13th October, 2010, Ainan and I, announced some of our scientific work together. Specifically, this was to announce Ainan's discovery of a novel human sense perception, which I termed Velociperception. This is a little complicated but, in essence, is the direct perception of angular velocity as a colour coded experience. It means that Ainan is able to recognize the angular velocity of moving objects, at a glance, in that his mind automatically categorizes them, by assigning a colour code particular to an angular velocity. We believe this arises as a new form synaesthesia. Anyway, this post is not one for too many details, at this time, of this discovery in perception. What is of interest to me here, is the differential response of media from around the world.

I sent out invitations to local and Western media alike. What happened was rather startling. The Western media responded very quickly indicating interest in covering the event (we said it was to announce a scientific discovery), sometimes within half an hour of mailing them. The local media, however, were rather slow to respond: only two RSVPed, at all. All the others remained silent.

On the day of the press conference, something unexpected happened. None of the Western media showed up, despite their having RSVPed their interest. As for the local media, almost ALL of them showed up, despite not having told me they were coming. I found this quite startling. It seems the Western media - at least, the ones operating in Malaysia - just don't keep their word at all.

Now, we presented rather a lot of information to those who came - perhaps too much. So, it was no surprise that only two papers had articles the following day (the conference ended about 3.30 pm the previous day). However, later on the day after, news broke on a Chinese language news agency...and electrified the Chinese speaking world. The news has been taken up by many Chinese language newspapers and portals, including Baidu and Yahoo in Taiwan and Hongkong. Almost all of the hits, referring to the new phenomenon of Velociperception, are Chinese. All of the rest are Asian. Nowhere to be seen, is the Western media world...

To me, this is most telling. It speaks of a differential willingness to acknowledge a new phenomenon. The Western media, have remained silent so far...or have actually failed to keep their word on attending the event. This includes all major Western news agencies, which have just ignored the development. The Oriental world, however, has embraced the novelty of this discovery and news of it is spreading fast. So, who, therefore, is the more forward looking society? The silent West...or the chattering East?

Frankly, I am very surprised by these results. I had not expected this, at all. I had always believed the West to be more open to new ideas, but this may no longer be so. It is, from this diagnostic situation, the EAST, that is more aligned to an open future. The West have stonewalled the new work, so far and even if they do eventually cover it, the coverage would have come very slowly. The East, however, has come alive with the news, in a quite excited manner. Many sites have labelled our news as a "hot topic".

This situation does not auger well, for the West. A society that is not receptive to new ideas, that does not invite new ideas to be considered by the masses, dwelt on, by them, given attention by them, is a society which will become brittle and fossilized...a society which will slowly die. I had thought that the East, would be more likely to be such a society...but no, it is my native West.

Perhaps, then, it is not so bad, that we live in Asia, over the Europe of my youth. Perhaps, here, we will be better appreciated and find more ready acceptance of our work. Perhaps, here, too, we will find a more open future than the one I left behind a decade ago, when I left London, for South East Asia.

I didn't know this, then, but perhaps I made a good choice after all.

(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: 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.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:12 PM 


Blogger Louis said...

My wife is from India and I'm from the US and we often note these differences.

For education, in the East you become the most popular student by getting good grades. Doing better than average in the West will only earn you ridicule from your peers.

For culture, in the East it's more common for younger people to attend cultural events such as performances, shows, festivals, etc. In the West - we went to a book festival over the weekend and I'd say it was 75% people over 40.

I read somewhere recently that the consumer savings rate in the US is -1%. China has a 50% rate.

China and India are producing something like 50 engineers, scientists, etc to each 1 produced in the West.

All those trends tell me the West is in decline and the future is in the East.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. There does seem to be a focus on scientific education in the East/Engineering etc. When the East becomes more developed, Asian engineers and scientists will stop coming to the US...then what will it do? That time is not so far away either.

Yes. It is possible in the East to be the most nerdy and the most popular: just try that combination in an American high school!

Good luck to you in the States, Louis. What does your wife think of the US and its prospects?

1:10 AM  

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