Today, someone from Arlington, Virginia
arrived on my blog with a curious search: “Cannot become a theoretical
physicist because of prodigies”. I thought this a most odd search in what it
said about the searcher’s understanding of prodigies.
Firstly, let us look at the situation with
regards to prodigies. Many researchers put the number of true prodigies, of all
types lumped together, at one in five million people. That means that the rarer
types of prodigy, such as omnibus
prodigy (the type Ainan has now demonstrated himself to be – a prodigy with a
multitude of talents), are much rarer still. There are, therefore, very few
prodigies. How many in Physics have there been in recorded history? Well,
Wikipedia’s list of child prodigies musters only 8 names. Thus, the entire
competition from child prodigy physicists amounts to just 8 people.
It takes little imagination to see,
therefore, that prodigies are not, truly, in competition with the masses of
others, who are not prodigious. There are too few prodigies for it to be a
truly competitive situation – prodigies are simply overwhelmed numerically by
So, to my searcher in Arlington, Virginia –
you need not worry about the presence of prodigies in theoretical physics...no
matter how talented they are, they will be numerically too small a number, to
worry about, in any real competitive sense. This applies to all categories of
prodigy...no-one need worry about prodigies out competing them, because there
will always be too few of them to take up all the spots at the top, as it were:
there will always be space for a bright individual who took more time to
develop to their fullest.
There is only one way prodigies could
become real competition at the top, in all fields: and that is if they were,
perhaps, a thousand times more prevalent. In such a situation, they would tend
to dominate – but that situation is unlikely to happen and, in fact, would be
impossible without major intervention in human evolution and population
genetics. This is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future, though it is conceivable
that it might happen one day – probably beginning in a state that has less
scruples than others, over possible ethical issues, most likely in Asia. I
doubt, however, whether that is going to be something present adults will have
to face, because the relevant technologies will take a significant time to
mature and may, of course, never be implemented in humans at all.
Prodigies are not anyone’s competition.
What they are, is human colour: they add to the spectrum of interesting humans
out there in the world and should be welcomed, not feared, or shunned. What
prodigies bring to the table is so rare that it is not, truly, in competition
with anyone. Each prodigy should be treasured and valued, for the human rarity
they are. Then again, if people fear their competition, people will tend to
hamper the prodigy’s development...they will attempt to stymie them in every
way they can. That, would be a truly sad loss of the prodigy’s talents. A
prodigy should be aided, in every way, to become what they may – for though
they add to life and society, they don’t take away opportunity from others,
because they are simply too few.
Celebrate the prodigies in your midst...and
don’t worry about competing with them. It is not about competition, it is about
making the best of life, for us all.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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Labels: are prodigies competition?, human colour, the acceptance of prodigies, the prevalence of genius, the rarity of prodigies