4-year-old geniuses: There are probably loads of smart ones out there

Is 4-Year-Old as Smart as Einstein? Not Quite, Scientists Say | Intelligence & Genius | LiveScience.

One of the latest members of the high-IQ club Mensa is a mere 4 years old, with an IQ of 159 — but psychologists warn against pulling out the Albert Einstein comparisons just yet.

As many media outlets have reported, Heidi Hankins of Winchester, England, scored only a point below Einstein and physicist Stephen Hawking on standardized intelligence tests. While there’s no doubt that Hankins is bright (according to reports, she read at an 8-year-old level, and could count to 40, by age 2), it’s not possible to compare IQ across age groups, according to Frank Lawlis, the supervisory psychologist for American Mensa.

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There is debate about whether genius can be detected so young. See this piece by Scott Barry Kaufman:

Heidi displays precociousness in one particular area: speed of learning. She does appear to have been born wired to learn. Many cases like Heidi do exist all around the world, and what she’s going through is a very real phenomenon, linked to her unique brain wiring. But what we must understand is that Heidi can be extremely high in this one dimension but be a normal, average young girl on many other dimensions, including social and emotional development. To become a genius takes so much more than just being high on one trait. It takes many, many factors coming together, such as drive, imagination, opportunity, perseverance, and just plain luck.

And more important, he takes the Daily Mail to task for their sensationalist headlines that compare her to Einstein. It’s just to soon to tell if her development will continue or level out, but a more important point is, all children should be given a chance to engage in early learning to their potential. It’s just not accomplished in today’s modern culture and that’s sad.

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  1 comment for “4-year-old geniuses: There are probably loads of smart ones out there

  1. Massachusetts
    April 18, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    The worst thing you can do to a very intelligent child is harp on how intelligent they are. The socialization of these kids is challenging enough even if the point isn’t stressed, let alone when they get this label attached to their names and become media sensations.

    Still, it’s interesting. You’d think that, intelligence being rather useful, evolution working through natural selection would have pushed us all further along the path for such traits. I’d like to look into that more.

    The Outliers book spotlighted at least one officially recognized genius who is surprisingly unsuccessful professionally (I didn’t read it actually but it’s on my list and I’ve been told this by a trusted source). My understanding is that this is somewhat of a trend, which is at first glance surprising.

    Though high intelligence is fascinating I do believe the bulk of the worlds discoveries and innovations are achieved by bright people who are highly motivated and focused, rather than official “geniuses” scoring off the charts on standardized IQ tests (The 120-something IQ people who really go for it rather than the 170 move over Stephen Hawking crowd).

    Super genius of course has it’s uses but it can be a hindrance too, especially due to social factors, like jealousy, and failure to master “the system” when it’s necessary to get the job done.

    And of course, there’s the whole issue of how accurate can a three digit number really be at distilling such an elusive and powerful human attribute.

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