With irresistibly persuasive vigor, David Shenk debunks the long-standing notion of genetic giftedness, and presents dazzling new scientific research showing how greatness is in the reach of every individual.
DNA does not make us who we are. Forget everything you think you know about genes, talent, and intelligence, he writes. In recent years, a mountain of scientific evidence has emerged suggesting a completely new paradigm: not talent scarcity, but latent talent abundance.
Integrating cutting-edge research from a wide swath of disciplines, cognitive science, genetics, biology, child development, Shenk offers a highly optimistic new view of human potential. The problem isn't our inadequate genetic assets, but our inability, so far, to tap into what we already have. IQ testing and widespread acceptance of innate abilities have created an unnecessarily pessimistic view of humanity and fostered much misdirected public policy, especially in education.
The truth is much more exciting. Genes are not a blueprint that bless some with greatness and doom most of us to mediocrity or worse. Rather our individual destinies are a product of the complex interplay between genes and outside stimuli-a dynamic that we, as people and as parents, can influence.
This is a revolutionary and optimistic message. We are not prisoners of our DNA. We all have the potential for greatness.
©2010 David Shenk (P)2010 Random House
As a researcher on the topic of genius myself, I was very impressed with Shenk's take on the topic. He weaves together several promising lines of research to create a convincing narrative. Furthermore, he has a gift for explaining difficult concepts (e.g., heritability) and research (e.g., epigenetics). I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in genius, intelligence, creativity, and human development more generally. Brilliant!
mostly nonfiction listener
Sort of a companion piece to Gladwell's Outliers. The two books go together well as Shenk is taking on an orthodoxy of thought around the gifted few - the geniuses. Important for parents and educators to understand the potential in our kids and students to achieve if given means and motivation to practice.
Avid reader and listener, I enjoy history, popular science, suspense and legal thrillers with a dash of epic fantasy thrown in for flavor.
I have been reading extensively on talent and IQ for about three years. You know the regular suspects: Outliers, The Talent Code, Talent is Overrated, Bounce and the likes.
Shenk's book is fascinating in the depth of the science he goes into. With the book you get his full endnotes in PDF, which is quite the launching pad for further reading and research.
Well written, very well researched and very intersting.
This is a great book. It's very up to date with citation of many of modern scientific studies. Usually a book like this is very up and down. Some exciting research mixed with some very boring downside. But this managed to keep me on my toes. I am actually looking forward to listening this again after listening to a few other books about neurology and psychology, hopefully gaining a better understanding of the whole picture. I loved how they brought up the most successful people being the ones who did not give up. It's really all a numbers game, this concept went beautifully with
I listened to the concluding chapter a few times because it sums up the book really well.
I can't suggest this enough.
Outspoken introvert, geek, handcrafter, and progressive secular humanist.
I thought I had a decent understanding of genetics, but I was totally behind on epigenetics. My concept of how both effect talent/intelligence has to be completely reworked.
The author convincingly invites us to rethink our notions of talent as being inborn in light of new discoveries in genetics research. If you enjoyed Gladwell's "outliers", then this might fit your interests.
This information is powerful and far reaching for the individual and for society. It's tragic that every human on earth doesn't know what is in this book. What is "known" today about talent and ability is wrong and limiting. This is groundbreaking science. There has to be a way to speed up dissemination of new scientific information, especially on something that has such profound personal and societal implications!
Another great reference to how genius is developed and not necessarily an innate quality. Great read!
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
I feel this book is only half done. The central argument seems to be that genes can be turned on and that outside factors and will power can make a genius. Does not go into physical limitations except to say that when a human sense is cut off, others compensate. Interesting to hear the truth about identical twins separated at birth. More showmanship than science. When it comes down to it, genius is a numbers game and if you stack the odds in your favour by doing what is needed to be a genius, you can beat the odds. Now I feel I have wasted my opportunities as I didn't know I could be great with a lot of hard work, determination, the right parents, country, culture, education, nutrition, opportunities and luck. See it is more than just your genes. This is a good science book worth listening to.
It is an excellent audiobook and the facts about how genetics actually works was an eye opening experience. I would recommend it to everybody around me. Very clear a message and a plethora of fascinating stories and experiments.
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