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The Genius in All of Us

New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ

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Paperback published by Anchor (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
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.
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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.
Product Details
Paperback (400 pages)
Published: March 8, 2011
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Anchor
ISBN: 9780307387301
Other books byDavid Shenk
  • The Immortal Game

    The Immortal Game
    A History of Chess
    Chess is the most enduring and universal game in history. Here, bestselling author David Shenk chronicles its intriguing saga, from ancient Persia to medieval Europe to the dens of Benjamin Franklin and Norman Schwarzkopf. Along the way, he examines a single legendary game that took place in London in 1851 between two masters of the time, and relays his own attempts to become as skilled as his Polish ancestor Samuel Rosenthal, a nineteenth-century champion. With its blend of cultural history and Shenk’s personal interest, The Immortal Game is a compelling guide for novices and aficionados alike.

    Data Smog

    Data Smog
    Surviving the Information Glut
    Media scholar ( and Internet Enthusiast ) David Shenk examines the troubling effects of information proliferation on our bodies, our brains, our relationships, and our culture, then offers strikingly down-to-earth insights for coping with the deluge. With a skillful mixture of personal essay, firsthand reportage, and sharp analysis, Shenk illustrates the central paradox of our time: as our world gets more complex, our responses to it become increasingly simplistic. He draws convincing links between data smog and stress distraction, indecision, cultural fragmentation, social vulgarity, and more. But there's hope for a saner, more meaningful future, as Shenk offers a wealth of novel prescriptions—both personal and societal—for dispelling data smog.

    The Forgetting

    The Forgetting
    Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic
    Afflicting nearly half of all persons over the age of 85, Alzheimer’s disease kills nearly 100,000 Americas a year as it insidiously robs them of their memory and wreaks havoc on the lives of their loved ones. It was once minimized and misunderstood as forgetfulness in the elderly, but Alzheimer’s is now at the forefront of many medical and scientific agendas, for as the world’s population ages, the disease will kill millions more and touch the lives of virtually everyone. The Forgetting is a scrupulously researched, multilayered analysis of Alzheimer’s and its social, medical, and spiritual implications. David Shenk presents us with much more than a detailed explanation of its causes and effects and the search for a cure. He movingly captures the disease’s impact on its victims and their families, and he looks back through history, explaining how Alzheimer’s most likely afflicted such figures as Jonathan Swift, Ralph Waldo Emerson,and William de Kooning. The result is a searing, powerfully engaging account of Alzheimer’s disease, offering a grim but sympathetic and ultimately encouraging portrait.

    The End of Patience

    The End of Patience
    Cautionary Notes on the Information Revolution
    "David Shenk looks at the new face of our world with a curiosity and connection-making responsiveness that make him exhilarating to read. These are bits, takes, provisional sweeps at issues still coming into focus, but taken together they give us a startling glimpse of where we are. Shenk is so close to the present that most readers will mistake it for the future." -- SVEN BIRKERTS, author, THE GUTENBERG ELEGIES "If the world of constant, instantaenous communication makes you a little nervous from time to time, David Shenk can explain why. This book is a very useful antidote to the endless praise lavished on the new electronic mediums. Read it slowly!" -- BILL McKIBBEN, author, THE AGE OF MISSING INFORMATION In this provocative new collection of essays, David Shenk expands his enlightened skepticism to include thoughts on the dangers of online journalism, the ethical implications of digital photography, and the misguided hopes for computers in the classroom. Shock-jocks, computerized toys, Microsoft-bashing, and genetic testing are all subject to his incisive and discerning criticism. Is Shenk just another neo-Luddite determined to bash all things digital? Hardly. This self-described technology enthusiast -- and avid fan of the Internet -- is simply interested in clear-eyed analysis of how machines we use actually affect our lives. As one of the founders of the Technorealism movement, he insists that new technologies must be appraised for their ability to achieve traditional human ends, rather than embraced merely for novelty's sake. The End of Patience includes vignettes from Shenk's conversations with some of the most provocative technology thinkers of our time, including Mitch Kapor, Steven Johnson, Esther Dyson, Douglas Rushkoff and Steve Silberman.

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