Forced prodigy

William Sidis (reading) s 350hMargaret Fuller (reading) s 350h
William Sidis
(1898-1944)
Margaret Fuller
(1810-1850)
Two famous forced prodigies: William Sidis and Margaret Fuller made genius via intense childhood instruction and education pressurization by their father.
In genius studies, forced prodigy, or parentally-created genius, as contrasted with an “innate prodigy”, e.g. Jeremy Bentham, found as a toddler sitting at his father's desk reading a multi-volume history of England, who, at age 3, began studying Latin, Carl Gauss, at age 3, correcting errors in his father’s wage payroll calculations, or Christopher Hirata, at age 3, entertained himself, at the grocery story, by calculating the total bill of items in his parent's shopping cart, item-by-item, by weight, quantity, discounts, and sales tax, refers to a child prodigy, whose accelerated talents are built into them or rather "forced" into and in turn out of the mind via highly-driven and pressurized instruction and educational conditions, typically, but not always, carried out by the father.

List | Discussion
The following is a work-in-progress listing of "forced prodigies", shown in descending order of resulting successfullness of either genius output, going into adulthood or in adulthood, or resulting genius-target finding effect, e.g. how John Mill found or was drawn to Alexander Pope or how Margaret Fuller found or was drawn to Johann Goethe.

Among "forced prodigies", to note, there seems to a noticeable division between those who seemingly are "too-forced" (e.g. Sidis), not able generally to discern new insights, as contrast with those who are "forced in controllable balance" (e.g. Hypatia), and able to discern new insights.

Hypatia
Greek thinker Hypatia (360-415), was the daughter of Theon, the last head of the great Library of Alexandria, before it burned—which at its zenith had two libraries, filled with 500,000 book scrolls, a laboratory, and a research facility—and as part of his plan, he established a regimen of physical training for Hypatia, such as rowing, swimming, and horseback riding, to ensure that her body would be as healthy as her well-trained mind. As a teenager, she was educated at the Neoplatonist Academy in Athens, learning mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. Resultantly, her intelligence and knowledge surpassed her father's at an early age. People would come from other cities to hear her talk and learn from her. She was eventually stoned and murdered for her beliefs. IQ unknown, but often cited in the 180-200 range, and considered the only known female universal genius. She was said to have had a superior intelligence, said to have surpassed that of all other philosophers of her time and her accomplishments in music and science paled all others. The following are noted accomplishments:

● Is rumored that to explain the seasonal variations of the apparent size of the sun, she conceived of elliptical orbit heliocentrism, over a thousand years before German astronomer Johannes Kepler, formulated this into a law in 1609.
● She authored: Commentary on Diophantus, The Astronomical Canon, and a commentary on The Conics of Apollonius.

The following Hypatia quotes attest to the genius of her resulting mind:

“Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth—often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.”

“Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.”

“All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.”

“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”

(add discussion)

Montaigne
French statesman, philosopher, and realism writer Michel Montaigne (1533-1592) (IQ=165) was raised, from birth, via a very elaborate meticulously-arranged education process; similar it seems to Hypatia and John Mill.

Witte
The intense program of learning (Ѻ) of Karl Witte (1880-1883), who currently holds the record for youngest PhD (age 13), is the subject of a book written by his father: The Education of Karl Witte: Or, The Training of the Child (Ѻ), and may possibly be an example of a “forced prodigy” or accelerated learner via the father’s methods. (Ѻ)

Fuller
American Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), who fell somewhere between 2F and N2F, albeit closer to the latter, described her rather intense education-raising, carried out via the direction of her father Timothy Fuller, a scholarly man, Harvard graduate, congressman, and lawyer, process as follows: [1]

“Thus I had tasks given me, as many and various as the hours would allow, and on subjects beyond my age; with the disadvantage of reciting to him in the evening, after he returned from his office…. I was often kept up till very late; and as he was a severe teacher, both from his habits of mind and his ambition for me, my feelings were kept on the stretch till the recitations were over. Thus frequently, I was sent to bed several hours too late, with nerves unnaturally stimulated. The consequence was a premature development of the brain, that made me a “youthful prodigy” by day, and by night a victim of spectral illusions, nightmare and somnambulism, which at the time prevented the harmonious development of my bodily powers and checked my growth, while, later, they induced continual headache, weakness, and nervous affections, of all kinds. As these again re-acted on the brain, giving undue force to every thought and every feeling, there was finally produced a state of being both too active and too intense, which wasted my constitution, and will bring me,—even although I have learned to understand and regulate my now morbid temperament,—to a premature grave.”

The following is a Fuller quote that attests to the genius of her resulting mind:

“I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.”

Not to mention that she somehow found Goethe, who like all other great geniuses, became her intellectual mentor.

Mill
Englishman John Mill (1806-1873) is the classical example of the successful N2F "parentally-created genius" prodigy. He was the eldest son of the Scottish philosopher, historian, and economist James Mill and Harriet Burrow, and was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham (also a former child prodigy) and Francis Place. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from association with children his own age other than his siblings. His father, a follower of Bentham and an adherent of associationism, had as his explicit aim to create a genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham had died. He learned Greek at 3; wrote a treatise on the history of Rome at 6; reading Plato, etc. at 7; Latin, geometry, and algebra at 8; conic sections, spherical section, and Newtonian arithmetic; chemistry age 13 at the Royal Military College; at 14, chemistry, zoology, metaphysics, and logic at Montpellier University; law at 16 under John Austin. Mill is a top six Cox-Buzan genius; he is one of the fabled "last persons to know everything"; he is also, supposedly, a split-brainer who “could write Greek with his left hand while writing Latin with his right.” [2]

Sidis
American William Sidis (1898-1944) is the classic example of the 2F child prodigy. His father Boris Sidis, a student of Harvard psychologist William James, theorist behind the so-called "reserve energy" theory of the mind, i.e. the hypothesis or premise that if you keep pushing the mind, you will get second and third winds, similar to a runner hitting the wall, or a hiker getting his "second wind" during a long hike up a mountain. Boris Sidis tested this theory out on his son. The rest is well-documented history. Sidis the younger, e.g., is the person behind the now famous 10 percent myth. William Sidis did, of note, produced his thermodynamics based The Animate and the Inanimate and had discarded belief in the existence of god by age seven; hence, some fruit resulted.

Edith Stern (reading)Edith Stern (graduation)
Edith Stern reading, next to her father Aaron Stern, who supposedly was doing calculations before age one and read an entire encyclopedia before age 4, and finished her BS in mathematics (age 15) and MS in mathematics, focusing on numbers theory, by age 18, then went to work in applied mathematics at IBM, in the area of telecommunications. (Ѻ)
Stern | Edith experiment
One of the most famous forced prodigies is American Edith Stern (1952-), cited as having had an IQ=200-203, whose father Aaron Stern dubbed her daughter the “Edith experiment” (or Edith Project), a genius rearing program that he carried out on his daughter, a premise that by using the certain type of progressive education, he could turn even a tribal child into a genius.

“I can foster the same meteoric IQ in the children of the Tasaday tribe, a Stone Age people living in the Philippines.”
— Aaron Stern (1971), The Making of a Genius

Aaron Stern is a Jewish survivor of WWII, although he suffered from lung and heart conditions from his time living in the forests. He was a professor of language (knew 7 languages) who taught children in displaced persons camps using travel posters - the only things available. In this book he writes of how he spent time with his young daughter in NYC, teaching her to read in grocery stores. They made museum trips on Sunday and talked about everything they saw from the time they left home until they returned. He emphasized how he always asked open-ended questions and asked his daughter to do research.

She could communicate with flash cards at eleven months old; and was able to use the cards to say how old she was. At age one, she was able to speak simple sentences and identify letters on flash cards. At age two, Edith knew the entire alphabet. By age 4.5 four, she read straight through volume one of the Encyclopedia Britannica (Ѻ), and by age 5 had read through the entire set. [3] Aaron Stern motivated his daughter by the use of colorful posters, flash, cards, and an abacus--which made math concrete and easier to grasp. Every moment was a learning opportunity--even a walk to the grocery store. (Ѻ)

In 1973, Aaron Stern, in his The Making of a Genius, explained his so-called “total education submersion method”, which is the term he used for the method he used to make everything that caught the interest of his children into an opportunity for learning and developing their minds. At the earliest opportunity, he began using travel posters, classical music, ethnic dolls, counting and spelling blocks and many other things to engage the attention and interest of his daughter Edith Ann Stern when she was just a few weeks old, and still in her play-pen. Using these as a focus, he would explain many concepts of life in very simple terms, teaching her ethics and compassion for all races, elementary mathematics, simple concepts of physics such as leverage, auto mechanics and a wide range of other mind expanding experiences of everyday life. When they would go out for a walk, he would push her in her baby carriage and explain what different signs meant, and when they would pass a construction site, he would explain simple concepts of physics like leverage, and how it was being used there. When they passed a picket line, he would use this as an opportunity to explain labor-management relations concepts. EVERYTHING that caught her attention was used as an opportunity to further educate her, and expand her understanding of concepts and how her world worked.

At age 5, she was tested for her intelligence level. She tested at between 196 and 205 I.Q. At age 16 she was given the position of Assistant Professor of Abstract Mathematics at Michigan State University. Later she went to work for IBM as a computer consultant, and eventually became a V.P. in the Research and Development Dept. of IBM, according to her father. She married, and I had one child. Her mother, who had been filled with fear by her husband's methods because the pediatric "experts" were all telling her that he would ruin the mind and social life of her daughter, later acknowledged that far from ruining her daughter, he had turned her into a very mature, compassionate, kind, intelligent and wise young woman of whom she was very proud. (Ѻ)

Aaron Stern was a survivor of concentration camps. Was hospitalized 170 times due to cancer. His cancer treatment, at the Mayo Clinic, was paid for, for some reason, by Albert Einstein. [3] Wanted to make his daughter a genius. Took her away from her mother from the day she was born. Designed the ‘total educational immersion’ technique. Played only classical music. Made flash cards for Edith with pictures, letters, and animals.

He demanded all of Edith's time. (Ѻ) His total focus on his daughter apparently strained the relationship between Edith and her mother. In 1977, she told reporters that her mother apparently "doesn't understand" and that she was a "nasty little thing". [3] A South Florida newspaper reported that Aaron Stern and his daughter were not speaking toward the end of his life (reaction existence).
Shine


Others
Other forced prodigies, albeit without notable fruit or who are generally non-notable, but nevertheless interesting case studies, include:
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The 1996 film Shine, starring Jeffrey Rush, is on forced prodigy David Helfgott (1947-), who cracked after performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, thereafter remaining in a manic schizophrenic state, tells the story of a father pushing a child into child into near stardom, albeit via unhealthy means.

Adragon De Mello (1976-), cited by his father to have had an IQ=400, is the extreme example of a paternal-driven genius child. Adragon seems to have had the same relationship to his father as Beethoven had to his. Beethoven's father wanted to create the next Mozart and drove him relentlessly from birth to adulthood, beating him along the way, to achieve perfection. Before Adragon was born, Agustin De Mello, Adragon’s father, had written a book about a child prodigy that was born that went on to save the world, so to speak, with his great intellect. Cathy Gunn, Adragon’s mother, said she was horrified by the father's obsessive pressure on their son but there was nothing she could do about it, she says. She eventually had to leave the family, fearing for her life. Agustin De Mello would go to any lengths to get his way, according to Gunn. "He threatened to kill himself in front of me. He did that in front of A.D. in order to get him to do things," she recalls. Adragon's father would yell at the top of his voice and scolding the child to no end to achieve his vision. After Adragon began to burnout, his father threatened to come into the college with a hammer and bash the teacher’s heads in if they did not give Adragon his degree. Adragon eventually was put into foster care.

● Susan Polgar, Judith Polgar, and Sofia Polgar, cited with IQs in the 170 to 180 range, were part of an "educational experiment" carried out by their father László Polgár, who sought to prove that children could make exceptional achievements if trained in a specialist subject from a very early age. "Geniuses are made, not born," was László's thesis. He and his wife Klara educated their three daughters at home, with chess as the specialist subject.

● Sufiah Yusuf (1984-), a child math prodigy who entered Oxford at age 13, but eventually ran away and become a $400 per date ($95,000 annually) escort. Her domineering father Farooq Yusuf, early on subjected her to his "accelerated learning technique", in which her days revolved around stretching and breathing exercises in freezing-temperature rooms so as "to keep her brain attentive"; Sufiah would then study hard and be forced to play tennis with just as much intensity as fanatical Farooq drove her on. The routine was so effective, that Sufiah was seeded number eight in the country for under 21s (link). After three years at Oxford (age 15), Sufiah ran away, sparking a massive police hunt. In 2008, she commented that “she is still haunted by her hellish childhood-subjected to her father Farooq's accelerated learning technique, where she studied math day in day out in rooms kept freezing cold to improve her concentration. "As I grew older I began to clash with my father," she says. "He was violent on occasions. Because he pushed me so far academically, I became more confident for a girl of my age. I grew up too quickly. From 11, I was studying maths all the time. I didn't have any friends. I wasn't in the Brownies. My father said they didn't teach Muslim values. I hardly ever played with other children" (link). She passed her maths A level aged 12 and started at St Hilda's College, Oxford. "It was an amazing place but I was too young. By the time I was 15, I wanted to be in control of my life. I fought back." Sufiah sparked a two week nationwide police hunt when she ran away instead of going home at the end of term, saying she'd "had enough of 15 years of physical and emotional abuse".

● Asia Carrera (1973-), cited with an IQ=156, is similar to Yusuf’s story is the story; Carnegie Hall pianist (age 13); studying Japanese and economics at Rutgers University; homeless by age 17, after running away from home because of the pressure her demanding parents put on her; after which she turned to stripping, and then to porn, so to never be homeless again, in her own words.

Others who might well fall in the parentally created category include: Michael Kearney (1982-), college graduate by age 10, cited by his parents to have had an IQ=325, whose father had absenteeism regrets (away at sea in the Navy when he was born) and Ainan Cawley (1999-), cited by his father to have an IQ of 349, whose father Valentine Cawley, aka “Mr. True Genius” as he goes by in his online handles, such as at YouTube, seems to have missed or failed prodigy regrets in himself.

References
1. Hardwick, Elizabeth. (1986). “The Genius of Margaret Fuller”, New York Review of Books, Apr 10.
2. Bentsen, Cheryl. (1979). “The Brightest Kids”, New York Magazine (pgs. 36-40). Jun 18.
3. Cohen, Richard. (1977). “Edith Project Produced Genius, Not Perfection” (Ѻ), Washington Post Special, in: The Milwaukee Sentinel, Apr 9.

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