Ainan Cawley, genius, entirely shunned in the West

I found this comment by “Syahidah and Valentine” while rereading an old Bruce Charlton post on the modern hostility to genius.

You often opine that there are no major modern geniuses left. I would agree that there may be few or none known…but I believe that they exist: it is the hostility that you speak of, to them, that keeps them unknown, unsuccessful and uninfluential. It is very interesting to weigh our experiences with our son, a creative omnibus prodigy, against your statements about the nature of the West. The coverage of Ainan’s achievements (across diverse areas such as Science, writing, film-making, directing, composing among others), has been strong in Asia, but interestingly non-existent in the USA (apart from one article in the Wall Street Journal, front page), and relatively minor in the UK (a couple of articles). In Asia there have been hundreds of articles. To my mind, this indicates a very cultural stance towards creative giftedness, underway. I rather think that the West is in for a surprise, in the next few decades, once these differential attitudes have had time to play themselves out. Valentine Cawley.

Cawley was a child prodigy. Here’s a relatively good article including him.

For other children, being smart makes them a target. Ainan Celeste Cawley – the youngest person in the world to pass O-level chemistry at seven and physics at nine – was bullied “extensively” during his Bukit Timah Primary School days, though he opened up about the incidents only “in recent months”, says writer-actor dad Valentine Cawley, 45.

Ainan, 13, says: “Once, someone tripped me with his leg. I just picked myself up and left.

“I did not teach myself to not care, I just don’t care. Unless they are serious in their words, why should I take them into consideration?”

His mother is Singaporean artist Syahidah Osman, 34, and he has two brothers, Fintan, nine, and Tiarnan, seven.

The family live in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, where Ainan is in Taylor University’s American Degree Transfer Programme, which allows for flexible, broad-based learning. He is majoring in the sciences but doing everything from computer programming to theatre. Last year, he composed the score for a 15-minute short film for a film festival.

Mr Cawley has learnt a lesson from his son not to “regiment” him. The boy began composing at six but when his parents arranged music lessons for him, he “wouldn’t touch the piano for the next six years”, says dad.

Ainan says: “I do not enjoy rigorous and repetitive training, which was the way I was being taught then.”

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/my-child-is-a-prodigy

Here’s a video of him as a teenager being bored to tears (until he starts goofing off with his brothers):

Here he is as a kid describing his velocity-based synesthesia:

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16 Responses to Ainan Cawley, genius, entirely shunned in the West

  1. Edenist whackjob says:

    Phrenological analysis?

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Dual-back deepsock ectomorph (some predatory lidding of the eyes, maybe). Heaviside, basically.

      Asian socket depth is an unknown at the moment, but his mannerisms are so extremely deepsock that I’d use him for a reference point.

  2. I’m not sure this kid is the best example of “shunned genius”. The kid is incredibly intelligent and has an accomplished academic record, but can we use the moniker genius? Has he done anything remarkable? Achievements “across diverse areas such as Science, writing, film-making, directing, composing among others” signals intellectual dabbler, not genius, to me (he is only 15 at this point, so he still has some time to focus on significant things). It doesn’t seem that one can claim his “genius” is being suppressed, only that it has yet to truly manifest.

    And in response to his father, why would his mundane “achievements” be widely publicized in the West as he is from SE Asia? Perhaps if his achievements were noteworthy they would be noted in the Western press. Also, I’m not sure hundreds of news articles about his achievements means much, as Asia also seems to have a tendency to be mesmerized by cerebral parlor tricks a la digits of Pi / calculations and other mental math.

  3. I don’t think he’s deepsocket at all. If anything, looks and feels very Meloney to me. There is a confidence and assertiveness in this kid that is very un-Thallish towards me. And this quote: “Ainan, 13, says: “Once, someone tripped me with his leg. I just picked myself up and left.
    “I did not teach myself to not care, I just don’t care. Unless they are serious in their words, why should I take them into consideration?”” My deepsock front’s reaction is: “Uh, really, you don’t care?”. And the last line sounds like extreme narcissism to me. If I were to be tripped up, I would definitely care. Either as being fearful of the person who tripped me up, or considering him definitely enemy. Definitely would care. And yes, I broke my rule of getting of the Internet for 3 weeks, because at the moment I am experiencing internal conflicts and just feel bored as fuck. Hahahaha.

    • By “considering definitely enemy”, I mean I would like to beat the shit out of that kid.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >And the last line sounds like extreme narcissism to me

      I think extreme IQ changes the way this works. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone tripped Heaviside and he responded the same way, unless he decided to run with it as a class struggle thing. “Gas the bourgeoisie, class war now!” etc.

      >And yes, I broke my rule of getting of the Internet for 3 weeks, because at the moment I am experiencing internal conflicts and just feel bored as fuck. Hahahaha.

      Bro! Bro. You can’t just quit something big, you need something to replace it. Go for walks, get obsessed about weightlifting, read romance novels…doesn’t matter what it is, except it can’t be nothing. This is a failure of planning or possibly knowledge.

  4. Hey, wait! I did not mean to beat the shit out of Ainan, I mean any kid who trips me up intentionally. I do not have a problem with Ainan, I actually think he’s pretty cool.

    >I think extreme IQ changes the way this works. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone tripped Heaviside and he responded the same way, unless he decided to run with it as a class struggle thing. “Gas the bourgeoisie, class war now!” etc.

    This is actually interesting. How does high IQ change it? What do you think that line mean, in your opinion? I think that he means since he’s so smart compared to his peers, he’s so high above them, and therefore could not be bothered by their little tricks. And regarding Heaviside, I need to hang out on the forum more to understand him. He’s a mysterious puzzle to me.

    >Bro! Bro. You can’t just quit something big, you need something to replace it. Go for walks, get obsessed about weightlifting, read romance novels…doesn’t matter what it is, except it can’t be nothing. This is a failure of planning or possibly knowledge.

    Maybe, but honestly I was trying to sort out some internal conflict issue. But perhaps I should not be off the Net for this long. Maybe I will be back in the forum earlier than I have announced, or maybe not.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >Hey, wait! I did not mean to beat the shit out of Ainan, I mean any kid who trips me up intentionally. I do not have a problem with Ainan, I actually think he’s pretty cool.

      Okay, I misread you.

      >This is actually interesting. How does high IQ change it? What do you think that line mean, in your opinion? I think that he means since he’s so smart compared to his peers, he’s so high above them, and therefore could not be bothered by their little tricks. And regarding Heaviside, I need to hang out on the forum more to understand him. He’s a mysterious puzzle to me.

      You and everybody else on earth. I figure this attitude comes from the communication gap- if intelligence were normally distributed (close enough), then the difference between Heaviside and me is approximately the same as the difference between a Mensa qualifier and a legally retarded person. So if I feel alienated sometimes, he’s probably depersonalized beyond even noticing it.

      >Maybe, but honestly I was trying to sort out some internal conflict issue. But perhaps I should not be off the Net for this long. Maybe I will be back in the forum earlier than I have announced, or maybe not.

      What’s causing the issue? Maybe going undercover isn’t a good choice for you.

      • >You and everybody else on earth. I figure this attitude comes from the communication gap- if intelligence were normally distributed (close enough), then the difference between Heaviside and me is approximately the same as the difference between a Mensa qualifier and a legally retarded person. So if I feel alienated sometimes, he’s probably depersonalized beyond even noticing it.

        This makes it clearer. So Heaviside is one of those people who has a mindset that is entirely different from the average population. That’s fine – I have ran into these people before at high school and now at uni, and I think they are cool. I guess that if I want to talk to these people, the best thing I can do is to get to know them for long enough. The ‘communication gap’, in my opinion, can only be solved by knowing someone well enough, so that if they say something that sounds unusual, you could understand what they really mean, or as closely to what they mean as possible. Edenic folks, ya know.

        As for my personal issue, there’s a component of it that requires me to solve it alone. If I need help, I will ask you, or a friend. I just realise now that if I am very focused on solving it, then I will not be so bored.

  5. Seriously though, I think it would be much better for our society if geniuses and high IQ people can learn to communicate in a way that normal people can understand them. The normal people would benefit from their high IQ, and the genius might benefit from socialising. I know it is hard – very hard, but I think it is worth it for those who are high IQ. Don’t they ever feel, in any single moment of their life, that if only the normal person could understand them better?

    Also, a note on the way I use the word ‘narcissism’. When I say ‘narcissism’ in this context, I do not mean the kind of looking-down-on-you attitude exhibited by beefy athletic men and boys over less muscular men and boys (i.e. the ‘Alpha’ male), or the kind of looking-down-on-you exhibited by people of the upper social classes over the lower ones (i.e rich kids looking down on people with less money), but a more universal narcissism. The universal narcissism here could come from anything – looking beautiful / handsome / hot, having money, being a good athlete, having a high IQ, or just having anything that makes you ‘better’ from the average person. Basically, anyone with something better than the normal person could be at the risk of feeling “Ah, I am so much better than the average person at X,Y,Z, I do not need to hang out with them anymore”. Or even worse would be: “Ah, I am so much better than the average person at X,Y,Z; the average person is therefore a piece of shit”. Worst: “Ah, I am so much better than the average person, I will use my talents and gifts to benefit me and myself only”. In my opinion therefore, anyone with high IQ could be at risk of becoming a narcissist. I know this sounds really harsh, but most of the high IQ folks I have met seemed to exhibit this trait, and it is not good at all, at least from a Christian morality point of view (pride is a sin). Or perhaps, it is a M-back thing, i.e only people with M-backs would exhibit this trait? (including me sometimes). The T-back only folks seem not to care about their social position anyway. Am I right on this last line? Tell me please.

  6. Pingback: How Gifted People Are Perceived – Blessed with Asperger's Syndrome

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