zxvasdf's Reviews > The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ

The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk
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Jul 16, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: goodreads-first-reads
Read from June 29 to July 13, 2011

This provocative book suggests an alternative perspective on the nurture vs nature debate, and goes as far as to reconcile the two. Shenk suggests that the general conception of genes being the be all of one's physical and mental makeup is a myth.

He uses a panoply of references and a list of examples filled with bona fide geniuses to drive home his point. What we regard as genius is not the product of a spontaneous genetic paradigm, but the result of a life long obsession. For genius to emerge, the person often is exposed to a particular field of expertise from a young age, and the person must also possess an uncompromising drive to excel, including a heightened desire for errors to emerge for the opportunity to correct them.

Competition is integral to the process as well, as a motivator. When Shenk mentions competition, he isn't talking about the selfish type of competition endorsed by Ayn Rand, but a competition encouraging the betterment of mankind such as practiced by the Greeks hundreds of years ago.

He then turns the table on his own thesis by revealing that epigenes, an integral accompaniment of DNA previously thought to be limited in function, are actually capable of passing on genetic information on a much more complex level than that of the DNA itself. The parent's abilities may be passed on, as are their vices. Certain insecticides are capable of influencing the epigenes to reduce male fertility for as much as four generations. This explains why children often take on the occupations and addictions of their parents. The sins of the father are literally passed on...

Thus emerges the astonishing dual revelation that lifestyle does influence your genetics, and that genes are not as passive as previously thought but are dynamic engines of creation continually adjusting to the choices you make. With The Genius in All of Us, David Shenk pens a portrait of humanity that is positive and hopeful, in contrast to the common opinion, where each individual has the capacity to succeed on an unprecedented scale.

*I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.*

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