320 pages, 9.6 × 6.35 × 1.25 in
April 3, 2013
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0385523653
ISBN - 13: 9780385523653
About the Book
With irresistibly persuasive vigor, 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.
Read from the Book
chapter oneGenes 2.0How Genes Really WorkContrary to what we’ve been taught, genes do not determine physical and character traits on their own. Rather, they interact with the environment in a dynamic, ongoing process that produces and continually refines an individual.The sun begins to rise over an old river town, and through a fifth- floor window of University Hospital, a newborn cries out her own birth announcement. Her new, already sleep-deprived parents hold her tightly and simply stare, partly in disbelief that this has actually happened, partly in awe of what lies ahead. As she develops, who will she look like? What will she be like? What will be her strengths, her weaknesses? Will she change the world or just scrape by? Will she run a quick mile, paint a new idea, charm her friends, sing for millions? Will she have any talent for anything?Only the years will tell. For right now, the parents don’t really need to know the final outcome—they just need to know what sort of difference they can make. How much of their newborn daughter’s personality and abilities are already predetermined? What portion is still up for grabs? What ingredients can they add, and what tactics should they avoid?The fuzzy mix of hope, expectation, and burden begins . . .TONY SOPRANO: And to think [I’m] the cause of it.DR. MELFI: How are you the cause of it?TONY SOPRANO: It’s in his blood, this miserable fucking existence. My rotten fucking putrid genes have infected my kid’s soul. That’s my gift to
Table of Contents
THE ARGUMENTIntroduction: The Kid Part One: The Myth of Gifts CHAPTER ONEGenes 2.0—How Genes Really Work Contrary to what we’ve been taught, genes do not determine physical and character traits on their own. Rather, they interact with the environment in a dynamic, ongoing process that produces and continually refines an individual. CHAPTER TWOIntelligence Is a Process, Not a Thing Intelligence is not an innate aptitude, hardwired at conception or in the womb, but a collection of developing skills driven by the interaction between genes and environment. No one is born with a predetermined amount of intelligence. Intelligence (and IQ scores) can be improved. Few adults come close to their true intellectual potential. CHAPTER THREEThe End of “Giftedness” (and the True Source of Talent) Like intelligence, talents are not innate gifts, but the result of a slow, invisible accretion of skills developed from the moment of conception. Everyone is born with differences, and some with unique advantages for certain tasks. But no one is genetically designed into greatness and few are biologically restricted from attaining it. CHAPTER FOURThe Similarities and Dissimilarities of Twins Identical twins often do have striking similarities, but for reasons far beyond their genetic profiles. They can also have surprising (and often overlooked) differences. Twins are fascinating products of the interaction between genes and environment; this has been missed as “heritability” studies have been w
From the Publisher
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.
About the Author
DAVID SHENK is the national bestselling author of five previous books, including The Forgetting, Data Smog, and most recently, The Immortal Game. He is a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com, and has contributed to National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, Gourmet, Harper’s, The New Yorker, NPR, and PBS.
"[Shenk] tells engaging stories, lucidly explains complex research and offers fresh insights in the nature of exceptional peformance,,,,such efforts have resulted in a deeply interesting and important book. David Shenk may not be a genius yet, but give him time."-- New York Times Book Review"Inspired...The Genius in All of Us has quietly blown my mind."--Salon“…a welcome new book…you’ll find [Shenk] a fluid, easy writer…The Genius in All of Us is a quick, compelling read.” – The Boston Globe"Empowering...myth-busting...highly readable...entertaining." -- KIRKUS REVIEWS "Intent on burying the concept of inborn genius, Shenk uses the 128 pages of "The Argument" to drive home how mistaken the notion of being genetically destined at birth to be a Mozart or a Michael Jordan is. For genes aren’t the inalterable essences that environmental effects merely help out; rather, genes and environment interact to realize a person’s potential in a constant and complicated process that Shenk attractively exemplifies through the athletic life of Ted Williams, who began hitting practice at age six and, equally important, never gave it up; also, considered to have magically sharp sight, he tested only high normal upon entering naval aviation—the thing was, he developed himself to, as Ty Cobb said, "see more of the ball than any man alive." En route to the startling revelation that Lamarckism (variation by inheritance, not Darwinian natural selection) has truth in it, after all, Shenk corrects