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.