Wednesday, 28 January 2009


I rushed about chopping veggies on the sofa and generally doing mad things in order to catch this show on TV. It was about trying to find the world's smartest child.

The usual suspects figured. Over ambitious parents. Celebrity status in the city. Some shrewd marketing.

One 10 year old was a literary genius but she was also quite the corporate savvy saleswoman. In a presentation to senior Microsoft executives, she effortlessly deivered an aggressive sales pitch (I wrote my first book on Microsoft Word, etcetera etcetera) and walked away with a contract, innocent smile intact.

Across the globe, a 9 year old Malaysian mathematics genius has a whole brand thing going. Bright yellow cans of brain food sell in dozens, all bearing his grinning mugshot. They are apparently quite popular amongst schoolchildren, a Malaysian Brainolia if you will.

I was impressed. Although given my aversion to kids in general and precocious kids in particular, I strongly suspect I would want to smack the living daylights out of any 7 year old going on 47.

Fortunately, the host was a remarkably easy going and good natured guy who seemed to genuinely empathise with his subjects. Even as grim faced parents tried to convince him that it was all for the children and never for the fame, money or fulfillment of their own unachieved dreams, the last shot left an undeniably strong impression.

An American 8 year old Mathematics wizard (Again! Why are there no more artistically inclined prodigies around?) who has a pushy ex-prodigy father and a saner mother, was playing with his two other older (and normal IQ-ed) brothers on the beach. However, he soon lost interest. And before long, the camera was panning on his beaming face. He had settled down nicely in a corner with a twig and was busy calculating complex square roots in the sand. I think that effectively settles the nature versus nurture issue in this particular case at least.

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