Nature versus Nurture
I recently posted a blog post called, Speculative Speculation, in which I discussed or proffered my opinion about Ancient Aliens helping mankind erect large megalithic structures. I also touched upon the subject of Genius. I offered the possibility of great geniuses throughout history tapping into a Cosmic Database thru meditation.
I have now read and re-read this month’s National Geographic Magazine article concerning a similar subject, Genius. The article in Nat. Geo. was very enlightening, it offered insights for me to think about. To turn over in my prodigious mind (pun), while pondering the minds mysteriousness.
I will attempt a synopsis(recap) of the article which intrigued me so much. In a study conducted by scientists, the scientists chose about 1500 individuals (children) with IQ’s of 140 or more and followed them for thirty years. Their findings were enlightening, in that super intelligence was not a guarantee to being successful, nor being recognized for your genius. So what is the discernible factor that has made the difference?
It appears there are several contributing factors, namely nature (what you are born with) versus nurture (given an opportunity by wealth or social class) and having passion and perseverance. I will attempt to elaborate.
Almost all of the 1500 children in the test group grew up to become everyday citizens like you and I. The basic norms, like doctors, dentist, politicians, salesmen and homemakers. None of them had the characteristics associated with genius; frazzled hair, disheveled, absent mindedness, etc. The deferential evidence was that none became recognized geniuses in any field or endeavor. So! How can people with exceptional intelligence just remain ordinary and not excel? A curious note I thought was odd, half the women in the study became ordinary homemakers,
It was disheartening to read about women who were exceptional but weren’t allowed to achieve and excel because of their gender. Mozart’s sister, Maria, was a genius in her own right, as talented as Mozart and a renowned harpsichordist and composer but her father made her get married and give up her career. How many women around the world are prevented from achievement by social dictates? It made me realize that intelligent women in male dominated societies are prevented if not shunned and ostracized from achieving their potential. So sad!
This is not to say women have not climbed the hill of achievement and conquered the mountain. Women of nobility and wealth who have been nurtured by their families and societal connections, achieved great things. So! Gender is a roadblock for the female geniuses for certain. To quote from the Nat. Geo. Article “People born into poverty or oppression don’t get a shot at working toward anything other than staying alive, what an incredible tragedy that thousands of geniuses or potential geniuses have withered and died”
It was also noted in this study that people with normal intelligence had achieved great things with no extensive education whatsoever. Just take a glance at Silicon Valley and The Tech. Generation. High School drop outs and what we call underachievers, have made millions. So! What is the secret?
Now we come to a specific modus operandi. It’s like several of our Presidents have quoted” You must have the fire in your belly” to want something so bad that you expend every possible effort to achieve your goal and get the recognition. Yea! I think it all comes down to work ethic, passion and perseverance. You gotta want it! Simple wishing for it or desiring it will not get you there! It takes sweat and determination! I guess one could also call it ambition! That is such an ugly word for liberal progressive democrats. Hey! I got a jab in after all. It seems that progressive liberals want to mandate equality and punish rich and successful achievers. (Class warfare) Just an observation folks!
Additionally, it was noted in the study that genius is quite hereditary, in that genius reoccurs in ancestral lines (Ancestry.Com says I’m related to Isaac Newton. Really!) It seems we are 5 or 6th cousins, 26 times removed, almost 1st cousins (pun). It was also noted that intellectual communities spur genius onward like Venice did during the Renaissance with luminaries like Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael rubbing elbows and eating at the same supper tables.
I will now quote from my experience. I have always considered myself intelligent with a lot of common sense. In other words, I am normal, just like you. I was not nurtured because my family was dirt poor with no formal education. What I did attain was a colossal work ethic.
It began when I was about 10 or 11 years old when I became a Boy Scout. I then attained a paper route and became more responsible. I had to get up early, ride my bike (which I made from spare parts) down to a place where the papers were delivered, roll the papers and deliver them prior to daylight. I then prepared my breakfast and went to school either walking or riding the school bus.
A man backed over my bicycle one night and pointedly stated it was my fault for parking it behind his car while I collected my weekly paper dues from his wife (he was a turd). I rolled that broken bike around and finished collecting that night and delivered the next morning’s papers on foot. When I got home from school that day, I viewed a brand new Western Flyer waiting for me. I had not asked, but my mother had rode the city bus downtown (we didn’t have a family auto) and purchased the bike at Western Auto. (I guess she rode it home?) I don’t remember the arrangement she made but I know I paid for that bike weekly in the store until it was paid for. Thinking back, I only made about 2 or 3 dollars a week and about 12 dollars at the end of the month when I collected from my monthly payers. I might also state that one of my first purchases was an oscillating fan to keep the mosquitos a bay while I slept
Around 13 or 14 years of age I worked on the charter boats during the summers for free but I received tips. About the age of 15, I began working as a laborer on construction sites and later became a brick mason laborer and apprentice because they paid more.
I never dated in high school because we didn’t have a car. I didn’t go to prom for the same reason. I didn’t take the SAT or ACT tests in high school because my mother didn’t have the 10 dollar fee. Yea! I was poor! I never ate lunch at school because I didn’t have the price. I bought my own clothes and shoes and hitchhiked everywhere I went. In high school I had friends with cars and I double dated a few times until they (the friends) fell in love and fogged up their windows. I became tough and hardened to life. No one messed with me because I was considered beach trash and knew how to fight. I was the (“The Fonze in the TV sitcom, Happy Days) I was tanned bronze and good looking with sun bleached blond hair and built (remember I worked as a brick mason laborer). Ha! I was God’s gift to women and just a little narcissistic you think?
That all changed my senior year(1967) when the U.S. got embroiled in the Vietnam War. I was not privileged so I joined the Navy to keep from being drafted. My richer friends and upper crust got exemptions or duty stations like Washington DC., Germany etc.
The conclusions is: Intelligence is not conclusive to becoming rich and famous. You may be a genius but at the same time you may be a blithering idiot. Social class and wealth gets you a long way if you have reasonable intelligence but in the end, you have to want it. A permanent desire to exceed and get ahead, to be better than your peers. This can be nurtured by involved parents who encourage and support their children and keep their noses to the wheel (this is so evident in the Asian Cultures like Japan and China) Countries like Israel and Germany continue to produce more geniuses of renown per population. Genetics or discipline? Other countries of note are India and the Asians. America is sucking up the rear even though we spend more money per child than most nations do. We spend more money and our children get dumber. Go Figure!
It is my personal opinion that Americans contribute to our children’s decline by pampering them and giving them their hearts desires. We empower them to not lift a finger. We are ruining them by not making them work for it. It doesn’t mean as much if you don’t earn it. Politicians ugh! They want the vote- free tuition, free books, free lunches, we give our children autos at 16, credit cards, student loans, and on and on, it never ends. I am as guilty as the rest of you!