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The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genes, Talent and Intelligence is Wrong

The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genes, Talent and Intelligence is Wrong

Book rating: 03 Paperback

By (author) David Shenk

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  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 197mm | 226g
  • Publication date: 6 January 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Duxford
  • ISBN 10: 1848312180
  • ISBN 13: 9781848312180
  • Illustrations note: ill
  • Sales rank: 55,759

Product description

In this dazzling look at the new science of genetics and the frontiers of human potential, David Shenk argues that talent - for piano playing, sprinting, designing computers, you name it - is not a thing we're gifted from birth and coded in our genes, but a process - a lifelong project. Shenk discusses evidence that shows how the average London cabbie's posterior hippocampus - the part of the brain that specializes in recalling spatial representations - is not just larger than normal but increases in size as the driver's experience grows. He illustrates that Mozart, seemingly born a musical prodigy, was in fact brought up in an environment almost uniquely perfect to mould him into the child star he became. Genes, he argues, are not a 'blueprint' that bless some with greatness and doom most of us to mediocrity. Integrating cutting-edge research from a wide swath of disciplines - cognitive science, genetics, biology, child development - Shenk portrays a highly optimistic new view of human potential, and in the book's second part, he outlines his prescription for cultivating excellence within us all. Deftly written and already hugely praised, The Genius in All of Us carries a deeply revolutionary and optimistic message: we are not prisoners of our DNA, and we all have the potential for greatness

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Author information

David Shenk is the bestselling author of four previous books, including THE FORGETTING, DATA SMOG and most recently THE IMMORTAL GAME. He is a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, Harper's, The New Yorker, National Public Radio and PBS / National Public Television. http://davidshenk.com / http://geniusblog.davidshenk.com

Customer reviews

By Stacy Foster 19 Nov 2013 3

The book is a good read, but lacks the personality necessary to keep a reader engaged.

Review quote

'David Shenk sweeps aside decades of misconceptions about genetics - and shows that by overstating the importance of genes, we've understated the potential of ourselves. A persuasive and inspiring book that will make you think anew about your life and our shared future.' -- Daniel H. Pink, author of 'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us ' 'A deeply interesting and important book.' -- New York Times 'A great book. David Shenk handily dispels the myth that one must be born a genius. From consistently whacking the ball out of the park to composing ethereal piano sonatas, Shenk convincingly makes the case for the potential genius that lies in all of us. While our genes may provide a nice runway, only hard work and unwavering focus can allow true genius to take flight.' -- Rudolph E. Tanzi, Harvard Medical School 'Old fashioned beliefs, a desire to simplify and the remarkable successes of molecular biology led to an undue emphasis on the role of genes in the development of human intelligence. Environmental determinism exists too, but biology and psychology have moved well beyond these extreme positions. The importance of David Shenk's book is that he has made accessible to a wide audience the advances in the understanding of how each person develops. I congratulate him.' -- Sir Patrick Bateson, Cambridge University "The Genius in All of Us' has quietly blown my mind.' -- Laura Miller, Salon 'A welcome new book...compelling...Shenk's thesis is that intellectual capacity is not a gift, fixed permanently in our cells. It's a process.' -- Boston Globe 'Cogent and compelling...[Shenk's book] will convince many readers that the conventional wisdom about talent is due to be overthrown. Shenk gets that revolution well under way.' -- Week 'The thinking man's Outliers.' -- New York Magazine 'Engrossing...revives faith in not just practice and determination, but also parenting and lifestyle.' -- Booklist 'An incredibly well-researched meditation on the nature of human talent.' -- Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Satchi & Satchi 'Outstanding.' -- Examiner 'Shenk dissects and demolishes the notion that some people are "born geniuses"...I hope that The Genius in All of Us is widely read and discussed among educators, and that all of us take a hard look at our own assumptions.' -- Insider Higher Ed 'Teachers, parents and anyone else who is guilty of setting low expectations for American boys should read 'The Genius in All of Us." -- Education Week 'Empowering...myth-busting...entertaining.' -- Kirkus Reviews 'Startling.' -- Midwest Book Review 'Surprisingly compelling...vivid and eloquently described...equally suited to the bookshelf of a philosopher, educator, or popular science reader.' -- Phenotype Journal 'Shenk robustly disputes the popular belief that intelligence and talent are genetically predetermined and methodically explains the thousands of hours of practice behind the 'genius' of a host of musical and athletic superstars (and those amazing London cabbies).' -- Freakonomics Blog 'I wonder whether, finally, it's beginning to sink in among policymakers that the richness of people's lives depends on the richness of their environment, and not on the idea that some are doomed to be born thick. David Shenk's The Genius in All of Us should be read by anyone persisting with that myth.' -- Ethiopian Review 'Clear and exciting prose...Read [Shenk's book] if you want to read one book that will change your thinking about intelligence, genetics, [and] the role of schools in creating learning.' -- Cincinnati Metro News 'The author's presentation is convincing and fascinating. What we learn is that while not everyone can become an expert at anything, we are all hardwired to be adaptive to our environment. The right circumstances, drive, and opportunities can create amazing abilities in peoples.' -- Provo Library 'Solid journalistic research, powerful prose, and penetrating arguments inhabit this work by David Shenk...From time to time certain literary works unmask the fallacy behind 'common knowledge' masquerading as 'certainty.' 'The Genius In All of Us' is one of those.' -- Bill Dahl's The Popoise Diving Life Blog 'Shenk's explanation of the science involved is lucid and accessible... the implications of his argument for teachers are clear. Books with such profound implications for education don't come along very often.' -- Australian Educator