Genius in All of Us

Shenk, David

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. The genetic legacy for which we thank our parents is not what holds us back - it is our inability, so far, to tap into what we already have. Shenk discusses evidence which shows how the average London cabby'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. He points out that Copernicus, Rembrandt, Bach, Newton, Kant, da Vinci, Einstein and Michael Jordan were all super-achievers who led undistinguished lives as children. 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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