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Why You Are Much Brighter Than You Think

Aug 17, 2007
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light."

Ironically, we are all much brighter than we think. And the dullness of mind that we often claim for ourselves or observe in other people is only a result of how much stimulation the brain has been exposed to.

The human brain is a highly fuel-efficient organ. All it needs is a little oxygen and a little glucose and it becomes a remarkable instrument capable of learning virtually anything and designing unique solutions to any pressing problems.

The brain can process up to 30 billion bits of information per second. 100,000 miles of nerve fibers are in constant communication. The reaction in one neuron can spread to hundreds of thousands of other neurons in less than 20 milliseconds. Blinking your eye, by contrast, is ten times slower.

Why, then, are some people obviously brighter than others? They know more, show more competence, and accomplish much more. Some even exhibit such unique and compelling thoughts that we label them geniuses.

The answer is that the bright people believe that they are bright and the dull people believe that they are dull. Their behavior then corresponds to this belief and they nurture and stimulate their intellect according to the dominant preconception.

It is not nature, but nurture that makes the remarkable difference in people.

It has been established over and over that a young child exposed to a heavy volume of study can become an astonishing genius.

A classic example is William Sidis.

His parents decided that their child should be exposed to a fearless love of knowledge.

According to the North American Review, (1907, #184, 887-888), Sidis accomplished the following remarkable feats.

At six months, he said the word, "door." He later explained to his mother that he liked the word because "door moves; people come."

At seven months, he pointed to the moon and said "moon."

At eight months, he fed himself by spoon.

At one, he learned to spell efficiently.

At 18 months, he started to read the New York Times.

At three, he typed his first letter, writing to Macy's to order a toy.

At four, he read Caesar's Gallic Wars in Latin; learned Greek alphabet and read Homer; learned Russian, French, German, Hebrew, Turkish, and Armenian.

At six, he could mentally calculate any date in history; learned Gray's Anatomy well enough to pass a student medical examination; started grammar school, moved to the third grade in three days, and graduated in seven months.

Between the ages of four and eight he wrote four books.

At seven, he passed Harvard Medical School anatomy.

At eight, he passed MIT entrance exam; and corrected E. V. Huntington's mathematics text galleys.

Before 10, he avidly read Albert Einstein's theories.

At 10, in a single evening, he corrected Harvard logic professor Josiah Royce's book manuscript.

At 11, he mastered higher mathematics and planetary revolutions, and lectured Harvard Mathematical club on "Four-Dimensional Bodies."

It may be argued that William was an exceptional child. But there are many other stories in history of the same phenomenon. When a child is nurtured with knowledge at any early age beyond the cultural expectancy, the plastic brain quickly adapts and responds to the exceptional stimulation.

Here is another quick example.

John Stuart's feats as a child were as astonishing as William Sidis.

At age three, he knew the Greek alphabet and their English equivalents.

By eight, he was conversant with Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's Anabasis, all of Herodotus, Lucian, Diogenes, Isocrates, and the six dialogues of Plato.
He was also an expert in History and arithmetic.

Our brains are capable of remarkable things, and the earlier it is nurtured, the more it is capable of doing. However, due to strong cultural biases against intelligence, most people are not exposed to positive mental influence.

It is attitude and belief that creates the difference between people.

Over time, the brain itself changes, much like the body of an athlete becomes much more muscular and agile than that of a sedentary person. The neural pathways become denser and more interconnected. The brain, like the muscles of the body, grows the more it is stimulated.

The good news is that just as anyone can learn to become fitter and healthier, so too anyone can learn to become smarter and sharper. All it takes is consistent stimulation.

As Rene Descartes said, "It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well."

It's never too late to create an enriched environment for your brain!
About the Author
Saleem Rana would love to share his inspiring ideas. His book Never Ever Give Up tells you how. It is offered at no cost as a way to help YOU succeed. http://www.theempoweredsoul.com
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