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 +

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The genius of Ireland.

A news article, on the Irish Abroad website, was today brought to my attention by one of my readers, “Ajax”. The article is short but striking.

As everyone knows, it is not difficult to find a talkative or a friendly Irishman. But how difficult is it to find a highly intelligent one? The article suggests that that isn’t particularly difficult either. According to David Schulman, the International Honorary President of Mensa, the Irish are the most intelligent people in the world. He says this because Ireland has more members of Mensa than any other country in the world, per head of population. To put it somewhat ironically, it has a greater density of Mensa members, than anywhere else.

Now, of course, this could mean many things. It could mean that it is fashionable in Ireland to be a member of Mensa. However, his further evidence indicates that this is not so. When invited to appear on a quiz show, Mensa was unable to rustle up even two volunteers from Mensa to form a team. So, they are a shy, retiring lot and not particularly willing to come forward, or even be known as Mensa members. This does suggest there is no great social impetus to join up therefore...certainly no more than anywhere else and perhaps less so.

It should not be overlooked that joining Mensa requires the same steps everywhere and that everyone in every country has an equal opportunity to put themselves forward and be selected. The only difference between countries, potentially, is the percentage of people who cross the acceptance threshold of an IQ of 148 (according to the article...though I note the standard deviation of the test is not mentioned). Given this it does seem possible that, in Ireland, more people are above that threshold than elsewhere, though further research would be helpful to clarify this. There are two ways to achieve this: a high average and a typical standard deviation for IQ – or a more average average, as it were, and a greater standard deviation for IQ. Contemporary research would be needed to ascertain which it was, if it were either.

Whatever is the case, this statement by David Schulman, President of Mensa, does support the impressions and experiences I have of Irish people. They are a varied lot...but idiosyncrasy and “genius” are certainly to be found among them. It isn’t difficult to find a sharp Irishman (or woman) if you take a careful look.

The funny thing about this is that the Jews have the world’s greatest reputation for genius...but it could be that there is a little pocket of genius lurking in the western reaches of Europe, largely overlooked? I note that Israel was not top of the Mensa list.

Perhaps the Irish deserve a more complex reputation than that of heavy drinkers and brawlers. After all, as I noted before in another post, it wasn’t the Irish who rioted in the UK. It was the English. Who are the brawlers, then, I wonder?

For a small nation, of few people, Ireland has an interesting intellectual history, which also supports the observation of David Schulman. Perhaps I will highlight some examples in future posts.

Anyway, I am just going to get a cup of tea (note non-alcholic drink for an Irishman), to raise a toast to the genius of Ireland!

The article that references David Schulman, President of Mensa, is here:

As a final point, I note that this pre-eminence of Ireland in the Mensa membership per head of population is particularly surprising when the history of Ireland is examined. Ireland is a country with a pronounced brain drain over centuries. People left, because there wasn't the means to support them in Ireland...and so they emigrated all over the world. Typically, it is often the brightest who leave a country in disproportionate numbers, since they are the ones more likely to be able to find opportunities elsewhere. Thus, one would expect to find most of Ireland's intellectuals outside of Ireland...for their ancestors would have left long ago. Yet, enough remain, in Ireland, for Ireland to be top of the global Mensa league tables. That is particularly telling and is suggestive that there might be many more potential Irish descent Mensa members overseas. I wonder if the global records of Mensa might be scanned for Irish heritage in its global membership?

The country with a most obvious Irish influence is the United States, where about 41 million people claim Irish descent. They are particularly common in positions of influence over people, such as politics (think the Kennedys) and Hollywood (much of the "talent" seems to have Irish blood) and literary pursuits.

I shall write further, in future, on interesting Irish people of genius, in some way or other. In some cases, perhaps, their Irish ancestry has been overlooked, or is not widely known. This should be rectified, I feel. If there is genius, in someone, it should, at least, be credited to their ancestral gene pool - and that origin should be known, for it raises a whole people, thereby.

Declaration: I am Irish, by blood, on both my maternal and paternal sides. However, I haven't decided to join Mensa (though I could certainly do so, if I wished).

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:53 PM 


Blogger Shannon said...

I'll raise a cup of Irish tea, prepared with milk and a spoonful of sugar of course. I'm not surprised to learn of Ireland's overrepresentation of Mensa members.
Way to go, Ireland!!


2:42 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, indeed, Shannon...what a fine Irish name you have there!

Tea makes a fine toast, I find...

1:01 PM  

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