Are we all Einstein? (Jim Colgan/The Takeaway)

We're running a week-long series about genius and how any of us can get that way, inspired by a new book, "The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong." The book's author, David Shenk, will take questions all week in our blog.

Read the first chapter of "The Genius in All of Us."

Listen to the full series:

(Excerpt from THE GENIUS IN ALL OF US by David Shenk Copyright © 2010 by David Shenk. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.)

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The Genius in All of Us

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When you hear the word "genius," you might think of Einstein, Mozart, or Da Vinci. But how they became geniuses is the subject of debate. Where they born that way? Or does it come from sheer tenacity? 

We begin a week-long conversation about genius and how any of us can get that way. David Shenk, author of "The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told about Genetics, Talent, and IQ is Wrong," tells us about some surprising research about what it takes to, as he puts it, "get good at stuff." Turns out it's not as hard as you might think.

Segment : [2F]      SLUG: [GENIUS]              [CH] leads

Guest:        David Shenk, author of “The Genius in All of Us”.   

Location:    IN STUDIO

 

Please pay attention to the arc – it’s important that we hit on Mozart at the end.  Also please note that there is a lot of audio pulled to pepper in over this series – a well of “geniuses on genius” to draw from.

 

ROLES (if they exist)

 

David Shenk will intro the ideas behind the book/the week - a debunking of “genius” as an inborn trait, in favor of the idea that high achievement comes from the interplay of genes and experience.

 

Betty Hart (prerecord) will support this claim with her research.  She discovered that early intelligence is *highly* correlated with the number of words spoken in the home.

 

Jim Flynn (prerecord) will support this claim with his research.  He discovered that, in the last century, the average worldwide IQs rose dramatically.

 

ARC

 

--straw man (genius is from god/genes)

--genes aren’t destiny - state thesis (genes x experience)

--intelligence can grow - support thesis (pre-record audio)

--practice is key - (Mozart)

--tomorrow, we’ll talk to a genius.

 

INTRO

 

TKTKTK [JAY COWIT] BRANDING SOUND FOR GENIUS HOUR

“MUX MUX MUX...”

 

We can all agree on who the geniuses are - Einstein, Mozart, Da Vinci, Edison.  But where does that genius come from?  Is it a gift from god?  Is it in our genes?  And - here's the question that's important to all of us - are only a select few chosen to excel, while the rest of us are doomed to mediocrity?  Not so, says David Shenk.  He’s the author of “The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong”.  This week, all week long, David Shenk will join us in a conversation, here and on the website at thetakeaway.org, about how we can *all* tap into our own extraordinary abilities.  

 

QUESTIONS

 

David, you don’t hear so much, anymore, about talent coming from God.  But you do hear a lot about genes.  When my child was born, people said, oh, he’s got your eyes, or your nose, and when he does something great, I’m tempted to say, oh, he got that from me.  But your book seems to say that that idea isn’t *quite* right.

 

[yes, genes are nothing without expression – without experience.]

 

So, when people visit the sperm bank and choose a smart man… does that ensure they’re going to have a smart child?

 

[not really.  There is no *smart*ness in genes.  It’s a lot about how you help those genes be developed]

 

But it’s true that some kids just do better in school, right from the start.  We recently talked to a researcher you mentioned in her book.  Her name is Betty Hart, and she was trying to figure out what happened in the years before pre-school that made some students much better prepared.

 

GENIUS 1 HART OBSERVED – 11s

BETTY HART, PRE-RECORD, HOME IN KANSAS

“we observed for an hour a day and recorded all the talk that went on.  some parents talked very little to the kids, some parents talked huge, huge amounts, as you can see from the numbers...”

 

David, what were those numbers, and why do they matter?

 

[it’s not about smart people inheriting smart genes, it’s about early exposure.]

 

So, just how smart can we get?  David, in your book you speak to a researcher named Jim Flynn.   We talked to him earlier about some work he did, comparing IQ scores over the last century – and here’s what he discovered.

 

GENIUS 2 FLYNN IQGROWTH – 22s

JIM FLYNN, PRE-RECORD, HOME IN NEW ZEALAND

 “IQ gains were moving at about 3 points a decade. well, over a hundred years, that would be thirty points, wouldn't it?  well, if our grandparents were 30 points below us, that would put them at 70.  and 70 is the cutoff point for mental retardation.  and that hardly seemed to make any sense..”

 

David, what does he mean by that?

 

[our brains are plastic, the parts we use get much bigger and better.] 

 

So, if genius isn't something that's just *given*, what does it take to *attain* genius?

 

[well, not so much.  Mozart got his gift from quite a lot of practice]

 

For more on this idea, visit our website where you can read an excerpt from the book.  Or you can email us with questions, at TKTKTK.  David will be answering those on the site.

 

Well, tomorrow we’ll talk to someone who really took that challenge to heart.  We'll speak to Sarah Chang, a concert violinist who first picked up the violin at age 4. 

 

AUDIO AVAILABLE (TOP BEST CUTS):

 

GENIUS 3 FLYNN DOGSRABBITS – 21s

JIM FLYNN, PRE-RECORD, HOME IN NEW ZEALAND

“and the solution that I hit on was that it's not so much that we're brighter than they are, but that we've put on scientific spectacles.  you see if you asked a kid in 1900 what dogs and rabbits have in common, they'd say you use dogs to hunt rabbits.  well that's the wrong answer.  you're supposed to say they're both mammals.”

 

 

GENIUS 4 FLYNN SMARTER – 15s

JIM FLYNN, PRE-RECORD, HOME IN NEW ZEALAND

ASKED: SO HAVE WE GOTTEN SMARTER IN 100 years?

 “if you mean are we exercising parts of our brain that we didn't exercise in 1900, for example the parts that deal with abstractions and logic, then probably under a microscope would look a little different.”

 

 

GENIUS 5 HART MESSAGE – 12s

BETTY HART, PRE-RECORD, HOME IN KANSAS

 “it's an important message.  that people realize that they can't count on capacity.  they've got to do their part!  tell the kids about things..”

 

 

 

FACTS (if any)

 

page #s

 

p 35-37 Jim Flynn’s study

p 37-39 Betty Hart’s study

p 50-51 Mozart story

 

ARTICLE (if any)

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