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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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The Genius You Never Knew You Had

January 29, 2010, 12:33 AM
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Just as your mom always suspected, brilliance lies within you. And not only you, but nearly every seemingly normal human being. That's the provocative thesis of David Shenk's forthcoming book, "The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong." This week Shenk sits down with Big Think to explain why the relationship between nature, nurture, and genius is far more subtle than previous science has led us to expect.

In a fascinating discussion, Shenk describes how the phenomenon of child prodigies has long been misunderstood and offers suggestions as to how parents can nurture their own little geniuses—or at least avoiding squelching their potential. He also illuminates the apparent mystery of autistic savants, arguing that they are evidence not of the rarity of genius but of the extraordinary learning potential of brains in general.

Though persistence is a necessary part of the equation, it's not sufficient; brilliant achievement is rare even among people who strive for it constantly. Shenk acknowledges this but offers an explanation: paradoxically, the people who develop their natural talent most successfully are those who, in a sense, most love to fail.

 

The Genius You Never Knew Y...

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