The author of The Forgetting, Data Smog, and The Immortal Game, David Shenk here addresses the old saw that talent and ability—the "genius" of certain individuals for particular occupations—are predetermined by our genetic inheritance. Was Mozart born a musical prodigy, or was he simply raised in an environment uniquely suited to molding him into a child star? Why is a London cabbie's posterior hippocampus—the part of the brain that specializes in spatial representations—not only larger than normal but also increases in size with the driver's experience? The optimistic, revolutionary conclusion of Shenk's argument is that we are not prisoners of our DNA: we all have the potential for greatness.
"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."—Guardian (London)