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, December 30, 2010

Lost in the static of the internet.

My blog is just over four years old. In that time, it has been read by over a third of a million of people. It has garnered, too, some regular readers whose comments on the blog, prove interesting. What is characteristic about these regular readers is that they truly appreciate my writing and think it something special, for them. Yet, in my mind, this appreciation is juxtaposed against a modest daily readership of several hundred readers. To me, this means only one thing: my writing is being lost in the static of the internet.

I shall have to explain. By January 2009, Technorati reckoned there were 133,000,000 blogs and counting. No doubt that number has since grown. Now, this number is both inspiring and depressing. It is inspiring because so many people have taken to writing of their personal worlds. It is depressing because so many people have taken to writing of their personal worlds. You see, the vast number of blogs out there, means that any blog, no matter how good, how well written, how insightful, how memorable or how unique, is going to be swamped by the vast horde of other offerings out there. Basically, it is very difficult for any blog to find its audience, or should I say, for any audience to find its natural blog: there is simply too much out there for it to be clear what a particular reader should be looking at.

Thus it is that we have the situation on my blog about giftedness. The number of gifted people in the world is truly huge: about 2% of the world’s population, or roughly 140 million people, is moderately gifted or greater. It is difficult to estimate what proportion of those would be inherently interested in learning more about giftedness and perhaps enjoying tales of like experiences. Clearly, though it is likely to run into millions of people, out of that 140 million. So, the question is: why does my blog have several hundred daily readers, instead of several million? The answer is simple: there is no more crowded a place, filled with distractions, than the internet. My millions of natural readers, for this blog, are never likely to ever hear about the blog, or to learn that its writing would appeal to them, because it is buried in a vast ocean of other blogs, sites and random web pages.

Writing a blog is, thus, a long term investment in a future readership that may steadily grow over time, but which is not likely to be significant, over night. My blog will, I hope, remain on the net, for readers to discover, many years from now. Over time, perhaps, I will reach a greater proportion of those natural readers, as word spreads. Yet, this is going to be a slow process. I may not even be writing any longer, by the time most of those natural readers find my blog.

This fate, whilst disagreeable is, though, the common one for all blogs not written by a celebrity. I am not well known enough for hordes of people to stampede their way to my blog, finding it by active searches. At least, not well known enough at this time: that may change in years to come. Until then, I must be patient and write on, for my select audience, not knowing whether the audience will ever be much larger, despite the evident enthusiasm of the audience I do have. It is, however, in that enthusiasm that some hope lies: if you enjoy reading my blog, perhaps you might tell others of it, so that they, too, in turn, might have the chance to enjoy it. Perhaps word of mouth can overcome the nigh infinite anonymity of the internet, and point out my blog to more of those who would, naturally, find interest in it.

I hope to continue blogging in the coming year, even though my blog shall, no doubt, continue to be lost in the static of the internet, and remain relatively unknown. It may be that it will have more readers, after I have stopped writing it, than it has now. If so, then those future readers will have missed the possibility of direct interaction…but heh, I can’t wait forever. At least, I have been trying to communicate my understandings, these past four years. I can do no more, in that direction, than I already have.

Thank you for reading.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 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.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to:

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

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 @ 11:41 PM 


OpenID laktosefrei said...

Sorry for not commenting much lately. This was due to the fact that I had limited internet access. However, I read - and enjoyed reading - every entry. I wish there were more readers. I hope that features like the Livejournal syndication page will help to spread the word a little bit. If I think of any other options where I can post about your blog, I will let you know.

4:04 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

I definitely agree, and think it is rather sad that many people need to be famous to get there blogs extremely popular. I find that many of these blogs written by celebrities aren't nearly as interesting. They may be good for those who want to read of a celebrity's everyday life, but what about people like me, who would rather read something about science or the gifted? It is very hard for people like me to find blogs like this. I am very grateful to have found your blog, because it isn't only about gifted children, but it is also well written, and one of the most interesting I have ever read.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Alex. You are right. Celebrities are often not very interesting people, in themselves. This is because the reasons they are famous are often quite superficial ie. they are good looking, charming or "fit". These qualities, whilst good to have, are not likely to make for an interesting blog: that comes from actually having interesting CONTENT, in one's heart, mind and soul. Many celebrities exist on borrowed content - for instance, actors saying lines that they never wrote; or singers singings songs written by an anonymous composer and lyricist. These people become celebrities largely from the input of others. The funny thing is that the screenwriters who wrote their films, or the song writers who wrote their songs, are likely be much more interesting bloggers than they are - but no-one will know who they are, and so, ironically, few would find their blogs, even though they are the origin of the substance that made the celebrities famous. Such is the nature - rather unfair nature -of this modern, celebrity driven, world.

The fact is that my blog is only ever likely to have a large audience if I, too, become some kind of celebrity, at some point in my life. I don't imagine that I would ever be a "superstar" (too old)...but I might become a fairly well known writer or thinker (for my scientific work), over time. This would be enough, I would think, to greatly expand the audience for my blog. The irony here, of course, is that my blog is already good enough for this putative future audience to spend their time on - but until I become "noticed" by them, they wouldn't bother doing so, or even know that they could do so. It is quite sad really.

Of course, it may be, that I never become well enough known to make a significant difference to my blog readership, in which case, this blog will always be known only by a selective few adventurers in cyberspace, who have chanced upon it somehow. Whatever happens, the only think I can do, at this point, is to try to continue writing and to hope that, someday, enough people chance to read it, to make the effort worthwhile.

I am happy to hear that you enjoy my writing so much Alex. It is gratifying to know that I have succeeded, for you at least, in creating something worth reading, worth thinking about. You are right: there isn't that much out there that is really worth spending time on, in the area of giftedness and its confluence with science. I think this is due to a wariness of many gifted people to public exposure: so their thoughts remain unrecorded and hidden from general view. This is a sad loss, since they could, of course, add much to the public discourse. In deciding to start this blog, I did something, therefore, a little uncommon, for the gifted community. I am glad you find value in it.

Have a Happy New Year, Alex. You have already cheered me into mine.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The two removed posts were just accidental copies of the prior post.

Thanks Laktosefrei for your intention to see if you can spread the word about my blog. That is kind of you and much appreciated. I think, in this world, readership is directly proportional to fame and independent of merit. No matter how good you are, if you are not famous, you will not have an audience. So, too, no matter how bad you are, if you ARE famous, you will have an audience. It is all a little disturbing really, if you have any innate idea of justice. Ah well...I must write on...!

Have a Happy New Year, Laktosefrei...and thanks.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Typo noticed: it should read "thing" not think, in "whatever happens, the only think I can do..."


12:15 PM  
Blogger tearsunderstars said...

I remember the fateful day I arrived on your blog with certain search terms, hoping to discover some sort of revelation. And then I did. Even if your blog is buried in the ocean of other blogs, I've found most of the answers to my innermost questions in yours and not any other as of yet. I still enjoy your writing, keep it up!


5:17 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am heartened to learn, Tearsunderstars, that you have found meaning in my work. What deep questions, I wonder, have I helped you to answer? (If it is not too much to ask.)

If my work is meaningful, I think it is because I write truly of what I think and feel, in the moment, in a manner which attempts to most fully embody that thought. I do not write for effect, or pretense, or in any way to create an image. I write what I truly think about things. Thus, it is, that the result tends to be meaningful to others who are able to appreciate those thoughts.

I hope to continue writing, at this time - even if, as I have noted, relatively few people are aware of my writing, presently. It is a pity...but I hope that time will remedy it, and make my writing better known. If you like what I write, simply telling others about it and where to find my words, will help.


10:48 PM  
OpenID laktosefrei said...

Thank you, Valentine, and Happy New Year to you, too.

8:23 AM  
Blogger tearsunderstars said...

Well, there's quite a lot to say, but it's basically this: I knew no other way of living than the "paper chase", and following the trends, such as "You have to be good at Mandarin, because China is becoming a global economic power", "You have to get As in order to...", "You can't be shy because in the workplace...", "You must impress the scholarship providers..." I have always wondered what greatness was, and not knowing how, I listened to those things above blindly. I mean after all, who doesn't want the best opportunities, the best of everything? In the madness of chasing the trends in this image-obsessed world, deep inside I felt very lost, disillusioned, and frankly speaking I really don't wish to care about them. (I was never good at Mandarin even though I speak it at home, and even though I know I'm relatively smart I don't wish to compete with other people for grades.) The people around me aren't much help, but I cannot blame them because they too, like me, knew of no other way to "live". They believe that if those things are not pursued, it is considered "laziness", "less benefits", "something less on your resume".

When I chanced upon your blog, I learnt that, all that is called "conformist". You also mentioned before, how geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci will be shocked by the education system, how nothing in Singapore is allowed to be left out of place, how it is controlled by "sound administrative types", how education became a must-win competition, how Singapore lost a pianist, a David Beckham etc. and so many other striking statements. It resonated a lot with what I was really feeling, and made me realise that if I try to be something else that I don't really desire, in other words, "conform", I'll be nothing more than a mediocre, half-hearted academic, and the only thing I can do is be my comfortable self. (Also, a reference to your post on "Be yourself", the one on the forced concert pianist.) In fact, if great people, like you or those that you mentioned, felt that way of the way things are here, I have many reasons to be relieved.

Of course, it's the truths that you write that become meaningful to me. They really pierced the haziness of my thoughts. Most people around me, always spoke of "money", "studies" until I get REALLY sick of it. I really admire you for doing so, because doing so also means being attacked. Like that time, you wrote the post on MOE's censorship. In the end you took it down, and I was sad because your blog is record of truths of how Singapore is, one post less means one less record. I'm always seeking the truth, and it's never easy to find people being firm about speaking the truth, because, being human, they usually choose the path of least resistance (in other words, not being criticized/attacked).

4:53 PM  
Blogger tearsunderstars said...

Another thing I realised was, what it could mean having children. Deep inside, I never wanted to have children, because of the way I'm brought up. I recall how since young I was forced to study by my mother (she won't allow me to be left out of place either) and once I felt so entrapped that I considered suicide. I cannot imagine forcing my children for a paper chase for the sake of the system. Not only that, her attitude to anything interesting is rather dismissive (if it was nothing to do with fame/wealth), or along the lines of "No, you can't", "too expensive", "waste of time" or "Get good grades or else..." Basically, my image of her, made parenting seem painful. And I also grew up with pain. When I read how you write about your children, I felt like crying about what I have been denied. I learnt that bringing up children can be in so many (better) ways other than the "control and conform" method, and also can be enjoyable and entertaining.

I have told my friends about how "even though we are chasing 'A' grades, there's a Singaporean genius boy, who's passed O level Chemistry at 7, is being denied access to his educational needs here that he has to go to Malaysia." What's left for them though, is to read this blog. Sad to say though, one of them didn't read anything beyond the post about Ris Low. In fact she even told me, "you shouldn't have read that blog." (My grades slipped, because I'm already giving up on chasing grades). I feel sad, that most of them, though didn't like the system, have accepted their circumstances, the way things are, after all they are human, and they are choosing the path of least resistance.

Pardon my long answer, I know I've repeated some stuff I've mentioned before about myself, but I hope it answers your wonder about my deep questions.

Regards, and have a Happy New Year.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Tearsunderstars,

Thank you for your insightful look at your own understanding of and reflections upon my blog and what its writings mean for you.

I am struck by how much my words have spoken to you. It seems that they have shown you a different, more meaningful way to be. Personally, I always choose meaning over conforming: it leads to greater life satisfaction and sense of personal worth.

It is never too late to find a more meaningful way to live - so do not rue your past, but look forward to a more meaningful future, informed by better choices, truer to whom you are. Never forget though that those who don't understand that you seek meaning over conforming, will berate you for not being as they are and choosing as they do. Ignore them. Choose the way that makes you happy.

It is a pity that your friends are not more curious about the blog which you so enthuse about. I would have thought that your enthusiasm would be recommendation enough for them to see that it would be of interest. However, it seems that they are SO stuck in their conformist worlds than they will not even allow themselves to read a voice that speaks otherwise. What are they afraid of? Do they fear to be shown that their world view is wrong and founded on an illusion? Does this unsettle them? Do they prefer a comfortable lie over an awkward truth? It seems so. These people are unlikely to awaken to the truth of the lives they live, until far too late.

Yes. I enjoy fatherhood. It is very entertaining. I have three comedians/dramatic actors always performing in my house, ever coming up with something new, fresh and enlightening. They are called sons.

Good luck on finding your own path. Those who do are far happier than those who don't and choose a path chosen for them, by society, rather than their inner selves.

Best wishes.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Straight Grandmother said...

You have to keep in mind that you are writing in English. You estimate the world population of potential readers, but that world population is nto all English speaking. I would never live in Singapore, don't they give beatings if you throw a gum wrapper on the ground? I remember eyars and years ago there was a big new story about I think it was some American kids who got in trouble with the law, something minor and their punishment was very harsh. From that point on I was never interested in visiting Singapour.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Straight Grandmother said...

I would think that your first priority in writing this blog is to preserve it for your children. Even if no one else ever read it it will be very valuable for them one day.

11:20 AM  

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