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 +

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Power Balance and the dumb world of the 21st Century.

It is a good time to be an idiot, for one will never be without company in this dumbest of all worlds. Indeed, there is a new way to identify one’s fellow idiot. All you have to do is to look for a “Power Balance” bracelet on their arms. If they are wearing one, they are a definite idiot.

For those who have never heard of Power Balance or its bracelets, I shall explain. Power Balance launched a curious little product in 2007. It consisted of a silicone bracelet (a cheap material), with a hologram embedded in it (ie. a picture with some “3 d” properties), that, Power Balance claimed, “interacted with the body’s natural energy flow”. They further went on to claim that this totally inert, useless object, with no medical or technological properties at all, would boost the body’s “balance, strength and flexibility”. Exactly how an image was supposed to do this was not made clear. It should be noted, here, that there is no scientific means by which a hologram is going to be able to do any of the things claimed. It is just not possible. It is no more likely to turn you into a sporting superman than a photo of some random object. Furthermore, it is not clear whether “the body’s natural energy flow” has any real meaning, in the first place. Certainly, the “interaction”, of an inert image, with a meaningless “concept” is not going to do you any good, at all.

Oh, by the way, these bracelets retail for the astounding price of 29.95 USD. That to me, is an indicator of the level of intelligence of those who buy them: that they would pay so much, for so little, for, in fact, nothing at all. This price is actually quite useful since it allows us to gauge how many true idiots there are in the world. Sales of this product, or should I say “product”, were 35 million USD, in 2010, a steep rise from the 8,000 USD sold in 2007. Thus, Power Balance helped identify, for all the world to see, 35 million/29.95 = 1,168,614 total idiots, last year.

Now, I realize that my language is a bit strong, here. However, I feel that it should be. This is the 21st century. Basic science education is universal in the schools of the developed world (and most of the developing world). It should not be possible, in this era, to gull so many people, with a product that, plainly has no scientific basis at all. People should not be so gullible, when everyone receives basic science instruction. Yet, they are. This can only mean that they were not bright enough to absorb the basic lessons of their basic science classes. So, in fact, my strong language is not strong at all: it is a fair description of the mental calibre of anyone who actually falls for this, let us call it what it is, total scam.

It is very telling to consider the roll call of some of those who have been seen wearing these Power Balance bracelets. Seeing the names, prompted me to reevaluate my impression of some of them – and confirm my view of others. I will leave you to decide which category is which, for me. Famous wearers include Shaquile O’Neal, who is, apparently, utterly convinced of their magical properties, Robert de Niro and Gerard Butler. Clearly, whatever skill they might show in their respective crafts, these stars are not showing a high level of intelligence here, in falling for this particular ruse.

Just in case you are a believer in this magical product, I would like you to consider the admission Power Balance made, in recent discussions with Australian authorities who were concerned about the product: “We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims.”

There. That should be enough to kill that particular con. However, given the state of the world, I rather think that it won’t. It is more than likely that sales of Power Balance’s magical little holographic silicone bracelets will continue to rise. After all, they have only sold them to about a million idiots, in the last year. There are a lot more where they came from.

Indeed, on consideration, I would like to thank Power Balance for the public service they are doing, in labelling the world’s idiots, with such a readily identifiable mark, to save the rest of us the time needed to identify the idiots concerned through actual conversation. With the advent of Power Balance bracelets, one can now begin conversations at the appropriate level for the Power Balance bracelet wearer, thus sparing oneself those awkward conversational hiatuses that come when one has misjudged the level of company present and actually said something remotely challenging. Or, indeed, if you are a salesperson or anyone in business, you might choose to devote extra special attention to them. After all, they have proven that they will buy just about anything. Thus, it can be seen that Power Balance has completely failed to understand its own product. It is not a placebo effect masquerading as advanced technology at all. No. It is actually a social innovation designed to help people talk to one another at an appropriate level – and to smooth the course of business by marking out the most vulnerable customers. Pure genius.

(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.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:01 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Valentine. I have a response to what I believe is your first post, regarding earl language development:

I also said my first word earlier than my peers, though not nearly as early as Ainan, at 7 months. I have never been formally tested for gifted, but I am considered to be highly intelligent for my age. I think speaking at 2 weeks is extremely early, but I believe. Did Ainan's early speaking result in early development of other language skills, such as reading and writing?

I have also been wondering for awhile now, how old was Ainan when you first realized his gift for science, and how did you identify this?

Thanks! :)

10:17 AM  
Blogger tearsunderstars said...

The world's really upside down... Those people would pay US$29.95 for a useless bracelet but not donate a single cent to your blog, filled with reflective and informative thoughts.


7:09 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. You make an interesting comparison. It could be, however, that anyone dumb enough to fall that Power Balance con, is not bright enough to appreciate my blog...

People don't seem to spend their money in ways that enhance the world, really...but seem to fall for the latest marketing ploy for useless goods. Quite simply, they are not thinking or evaluating for themselves.

Best wishes, Tearsunderstars.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Alex, Ainan's early speech did lead to early development of his other language skills. He read his first letter at eight months, spontaneously, without direct tutoring and would read bits off the cinema screen (titles/credits) at one years old - again without direct tuition: he seems to have worked it out himself by observation. At three years old, he was a regular independent surfer of the internet, using the computer on his own, typing his destinations and studying mathematical sites for hyperdimensional shapes, then, somewhat later, chemistry sites. So, yes, it did all form an accelerated pattern.

The earliest signs of scientific interest came as a toddler, when he would choose science books in the library to look at. He preferred them, by far, to fiction, even so young.

We only really wakened to it, though, when he was six and he answered the questions right on a chemistry paper we gave him, (O level) after seeing him read a textbook. We really had to react then.

Thanks for your interest.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping out, Valentine. I am very interested in gifted children.

I don't know when I began to read, as it was awhile ago and I was too introverted for my parents to know. I do remember reading books at two or three years, but it easily could have been memorization. Many children began to read in school (usually ages 4-7) and many struggled at first. However, I don't remember struggling, so perhaps I knew before that.

I have decided to tell you this because your writing seems to give the message that Ainan is a bit introverted, too. Is he introverted, and does he sometimes keep a talent to himself and then randomly present them later on?

Thanks again for answering my questions.

2:59 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Ainan is quite introverted. As for surprising talents - I am still finding out things he can do, even after all this time. I don't know if he is deliberately holding back knowledge of them (probably not), it is just that they only come up, in conversation, or in action, after many years. It might give you some idea of how many different things he has shown himself able to do well, that I still find myself being surprised, at times, by something new.

Is your interest in gifted children, professional or personal?


10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Valentine.

No, my interest in gifted children is not professional. I became interested from a video on Youtube about gifted children. I then found The World's Cleverest Child and Me (featuring Ainan) so I searched his name and found your blog. Since then I have been spending much of my time researching.

If you are interested, the video I found on Youtube is titled Child Genius, and there are five parts to it. Here is the link:

11:44 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the link, Alex, I shall try to check it out.

Re. your is an intriguing topic. Good luck with your explorations.

12:34 PM  
Blogger EbTech said...

Haha that's funny, I've never heard of such a "product" before. People do believe all sorts of things, so this is somewhat less shocking.

With regards to science instruction, perhaps more effort should go towards explaining how and why the scientific process works. Knowing about scientific theories is different from understanding where they came from and being able to evaluate knowledge claims.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Hi EbTech,

Welcome back. There are a lot of "products" that depend on dumbness to sell. Singapore has cases of "magic stones", being sold...yes, you guessed it, some pretty ordinary pebbles/rocks...being sold to dupes. So, there are dumb people everywhere...and what they have in common is zero understanding of how the world works, scientifically.

People have to understand the basic principles of how the world really works, then they will see through these things. Sadly, many people just don't understand...despite being educated in science in school.

What do you mean by knowing where science comes from? Do you want them to understand the method and experimental approaches, etc?

8:24 PM  

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