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Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 | ISSN 1556-5696

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Do You Believe In Magic?

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About this week’s eSkeptic

In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr. Chris Edwards examines some of the claims made by Kristine Barnett about her autistic savant son, James, in her book entitled The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.

Dr. Chris Edwards is a frequent contributor to Skeptic and the author, most recently, of Teaching Genius: Redefining Education with Lessons from Science and Philosophy (Rowman & Littlefield 2012). He is also the author of Spiritual Snake Oil: Fads and Fallacies in Pop Culture (Sharp Press 2011) and Disbelief 101: A Young Person’s Guide to Atheism (Sharp Press 2009) that has been translated into Polish.

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The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius (detail of book cover)

The Spark and the Hype

by Chris Edwards

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob is autistic and he has become really good at mathematics at an early age. This much appears to be true, and it is not necessarily out of the ordinary for autistic savants, many of whom develop early propensities for unique skill sets involving numbers and music. But Jacob’s mother, who has published a book called The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius (Random House, 2013) fails to provide any solid evidence that Jacob is anything more than a typical autistic savant (defined as someone with autism who also has a special skill set).1 The hype around Jacob—that he has created an original theory in astrophysics worthy of the Nobel Prize, that his IQ is higher than Einstein’s, and that his genius can only be nurtured in a university environment despite his young age—dissipates upon skeptical inquiry. Furthermore, the media attention surrounding Jacob reveals that many in the public still falsely view intelligence—and especially “genius”—as an inborn trait rather than as the product of intense intellectual effort.

It’s best to begin by systematically examining the remarkable claims that Jacob’s mother (and her publisher) makes about her son in her book. To begin, the book jacket flap claims: “At nine [Jacob] started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize.” Kristine repeats that claim in the introduction by stating that, at age nine, “[Jacob] began work on an original theory in the field of relativity. The equations were so long they spilled over from his gigantic whiteboard onto the windows of our home. Uncertain how to help, I asked Jake if there was someone he might show his work to, and a renowned physicist I contacted on Jake’s behalf generously agreed to review an early iteration. He confirmed that Jake was indeed working on an original theory and also said that if the theory held, it would put him in line for a Nobel Prize.”2

Kristine repeats this later in the book, after she’s identified the renowned physicist as Dr. Scott Tremaine, a professor at Princeton. She writes “Dr. Tremaine got back in touch. He had taken a look at Jake’s equation, and he sent Jake an email with a list of books…. But he also wrote me an email. In it, he confirmed that Jake was indeed working on an original theory, and he made it clear that if Jake’s theory held, it would put him in line for a Nobel Prize.”3

Before revealing what Dr. Tremaine really wrote, it’s worth taking a moment to focus on that “s” that pluralizes the word “expert” on the book flap. Nowhere in the book or in any media coverage does anyone indicate that more than one expert looked at Jacob’s theory. A niggling point, perhaps, but not insignificant as scientific journals require peer review from a number of experts, and giving the impression that several people have confirmed the validity of a theory when they have not is not quite honest.

Kristine’s claims about Dr. Tremain’s reaction to Jacob’s theory are, at best, a misrepresentation. A March 20, 2011 article in the Indianapolis Star includes a partial text of Dr. Tremaine’s email: “I’m impressed by [Jacob’s] interest in physics and the amount that he has learned so far. The theory that he’s working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics. Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize.”

Clearly this is a statement about the significance of the problems that had sparked Jacob’s interests, not a commentary on the theory itself. Nowhere does Dr. Tremaine suggest that Jacob’s theory actually solves any problems. Besides, any student of the history of physics knows that predicting Nobel Prize winners is an iffy prospect at best, and that physics prizes tend to go not to theoretical constructs but research discoveries. Let’s not buy Jacob a ticket to Stockholm just yet.

In fact, when the reporter who wrote the article followed up with Dr. Tremaine, the professor stated only “I have seen a YouTube video in which Jake describes his theory, and I have spoken with his mother and corresponded with both her and Jake by email. I hope that Jake continues his interest in physics and mathematics.” This is hardly a solid validation of Jacob’s theory and it’s interesting to note that while Kristine liberally quotes from the conversations she has with professors and experts throughout the book, the actual text of the email she received from Dr. Tremaine does not appear in The Spark.

The second remarkable claim about Jacob involves the mystifying notion that Jacob’s IQ is higher than Einstein’s. This claim appears nowhere in the text of the book but is the first thing mentioned on the book flap, and appears in many of the media articles about Jacob.

In fact, one can also find this claim made about an Indian 12 year-old named Neha Ramu and a handful of other preteens.4 It’s not clear where the claim comes from since Einstein never actually took an IQ exam. For some reason, it is assumed his IQ would have been around 160 but it’s not clear where that number comes from or what criteria or measure would be used to calculate a number.

Let’s test the notion that Einstein must have had an exceptionally high IQ due to his historical work in physics. We do have IQ information on another of the 20th century’s titans of physics, that of Richard Feynman. In his biography of the man James Gleick writes that Feynman’s “score on the school IQ test was merely a respectable 125.”5 MENSA requires a score of 132 to enter, which means that even those sub-geniuses who miss the cut off for entry by six points can still console themselves with the idea that they have a higher IQ than Richard Feynman!

Okay, here’s the baffling thing. Kristine writes that “Jake had scored 170 on the Wechsler Fundamentals: Academic Skills achievement test, which measures broad skills in reading, spelling, and math. The normal range is between 90 and 109, superior between 110 and 124, and gifted between 125 and 130. Scores about 150 fall into the category of genius.”6 The Wechsler test, typically, is given to kids between the ages of 6 and 16. What does it mean to say that Jacob, or any other kid, has an IQ higher than Einstein on an intelligence test meant for children and adolescents? Does this mean that we assume that a 10-year old Einstein would have scored 160 on the test or are we assuming that a 30 year old Einstein would score a 160 on the test? How exactly can we compare anybody’s results on an IQ test with Einstein’s when the man never had his IQ tested? Can I also assume that his SAT score would be 1000, and then assume that I scored “better than Einstein” on the exam?

Thirdly, much of the narrative in The Spark involves Kristine trying to find an academic place for her autistic son and, finding public schools inadequate, has to locate a place for him at the local college campus. At this point, I should disclose that I teach Advanced Placement World History at a high school not far from where Jacob now attends university in central Indiana. The Indianapolis area provides ample opportunities for gifted students to engage in mathematics competitions.

It is a bit curious that Jacob does not attend these events, especially given that he would likely find intellectual comrades there. Kristine writes that she did not want Jacob in the math club because it would take up all of their Saturday mornings. She writes that after her first trip to a math team practice, that “Five hours later, I realized that this math club would mean that Jake would have to give up every Saturday to sit in a stuffy basement classroom with a bunch of kids doing math.” Because of this, she kept Jacob out of competitions. Then she indicates that Jacob’s intelligence would have made his entry into competition unfair, by writing “He’d found a sample Mathematical Olympiad problem set online the night before and had stayed up until two in the morning blowing through it for fun. It hadn’t been a challenge for him, and he didn’t want to take a win away from any of the kids who’d been studying so hard to get into the competition. ‘They’re all trying really hard, Mom. It’s not fair’.”7

Being a teacher, I see how hard our math competitors work, and how impressive their achievements can be in competition, but I suspect there’s probably something else going on here, not to mention that this attitude is more than a little condescending. Speaking of this, most of Kristine’s narrative involves her trying to find an academic environment where Jacob’s needs could be met. She meets this laudable goal when a Dr. Russell at Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis requested that Jacob join a collegiate program called “Special Programs for Academic Nurturing” or SPAN.8 Kristine asks rhetorically, “Would we consider pulling Jake out of elementary school and sending him to college?”9

The image of an elementary aged child in a college course has done much to enhance Jacob’s mystique, but is it really that big of a deal? Anyone with a student in a modern high school, for example, knows that almost all secondary schools in the suburbs are high school/college hybrids. I myself teach an Advanced Placement World History course to mostly high school freshman, which is a college class where students can earn college credits if they score well on a federal exam. The class is harder than anything I took even in graduate school (the notion that university programs provided greater rigor than high school has recently been debunked by an important book called Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses) and a few years ago a student took the course and got the highest possible score on the exam at the age of 12.10 Nobody called the newspapers.

In addition, I frequently act as a faculty advisor for students in the International Baccalaureate program. In order to graduate, students have to produce an original piece of work similar to the type of work that Jacob likely engages in as a “paid researcher” for IUPUI, another of the claims lauded on the book flap. My point is that this type of work is hardly out of the ordinary for “regular” high school students in advanced programs.

The Amadeus Myth

I’m a teacher and the father of two young sons. While neither of my children has any developmental issues, brain cancer nearly killed my youngest boy and only relented after a succession of surgeries and radiation treatments (he’s now two years in remission.) I sympathize with Kristine and know the gut-wrenching feeling that comes with worrying about the fate of your children. In addition, it is clear that young people need to be lauded more for intellectual accomplishments (as opposed to athletic), and I do wish it was the case that math prodigies and scientists received more public recognition. But the attention heaped on Jacob Barnett, because it feeds into media-generated myths about genius, may do more harm than good.

In his analysis of genius in The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer calls the child-genius concept “the Amadeus Myth” and defines it as “the belief that genius and original creations are produced by mysterious mental miracles limited to a special few. Its source is ancient, dating back to the ancient Greeks who believed that the Muses, or gods, breathed creativity into certain individuals.”11 The prime example of a child touched by the spark of the muses is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Dr. Shermer exposes this story as a myth.

Two new misconceptions seem to be currently tied in with the Amadeus Myth. The first is that a high IQ equates with genius. I sometimes tell my Ivy League bound students to not make the mistake of having gone to school without having done a great thing. The same principle applies for the concept of IQ. Having a high IQ might indicate that someone is more likely to create a work of genius, but it does not define someone as a genius. Compare Richard Feynman, with his 125 IQ who created works of genius that earned him the Nobel Prize, with Marilyn vos Savant, the woman who famously has the world’s highest IQ, and whose major intellectual contributions is writing an “Ask Marilyn” column in the Parade magazine insert that comes with the Sunday paper. Who did work worthy of genius?

Perhaps because higher level mathematics remains incomprehensible to most people, there is a tendency to ascribe genius to individuals who can work at deep levels of mathematical theory. But does mathematics really deserve such a lofty place in the intellectual Valhalla? No less an intellect than Edward O. Wilson recently argued most mathematical theorems are actually translations from already existing scientific and philosophical theories.12 Einstein thought in pictures and metaphors, for example, then translated those concepts into mathematics. With a slew of talented science writers currently churning out books written in plain language, people with poor math understanding are hardly barred from the world of theoretical physics or biology.

In his article, Dr. Wilson noted that Charles Darwin, for example, was more or less inept at math. Jacob’s mathematical skills are no doubt impressive, but his skill set is more akin to playing a violin at the top level than it is to creating a work of genius. Violin players learn to carefully play already existing pieces. Kristine seems to understand that a new theory is necessary to confirm Jacob’s “genius,” hence the hype over his supposedly original theory. But that theory has not been put through the rigor of peer review and, therefore, does not yet count.

In public perception, high IQ plus mysterious mathematical talents plus the image of a young person at the university plus very spurious claims about a potentially Nobel Prize winning original theory all feed into the preexisting Amadeus myth. This helps to explain the media’s interest in Jacob. Add to this Jacob’s autism, and the controversies surrounding that topic, and you have a marketing phenom. What we don’t have is a body of work to judge.

You see, to be a genius is to produce a work of genius. Genius is as genius does. In his book of biographies about geniuses, Harold Bloom describes his test for genius by asking “has my awareness been intensified, my consciousness widened and clarified? If not, then I have encountered talent, not genius.”13 Works of genius in the sciences are defined by one’s peers. Take the example of the modern genius Grigory Perelman, a Russian mathematician who proved the Poincare Conjecture in the year 2000. Masha Gessen, who wrote a book called Perfect Rigor: A Genius + The Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century about Perelman details many features of the man that parallel Jacob.14 Perelman, for example, was both a math prodigy and almost certainly is autistic. But Perelman never shied from mathematics competition as a youngster. And he spent eight or nine years, as an adult, in relative isolation to create his work of genius.

When Perelman finished his work; he was nearly 40 years of age and then he presented his original theory to a community of experts and traveled to the United States in order to explain himself. People in his field reviewed Perelman’s life work with rigor, declared it valid, and he was offered a million dollar reward for his efforts. (Perelman declined to collect the money.) Even with a mathematical gift, it took half a lifetime of effort for Dr. Perelman to create a work of genius. Terms like “original theory,” “genius” and “Nobel Prize” should not be flippantly thrown around, and I’m not sure had Dr. Perelman been lauded as a teenager for his early achievements that he would have had the fortitude to overcome the many obstacles he needed to create his impressive work.

In my own book on education—Teaching Genius: Redefining Education with Lessons from Science and Philosophy—I intended to demystify the concept of genius and to try and find lessons from great thinkers that can be applied in the classroom.15 As Grigory Perelman’s example indicates, and as Michael Shermer and others have written, works of genius are the products of thousands of hours of study and intellectual work. Kristine Barnett and her publisher have taken an autistic boy with a talent for mathematics and, by misrepresenting the emailed words of a single physicist, by comparing Jacob’s IQ to Einstein’s non-existent score, and by overstating the importance of his placement at a university, have hyped him into a genius.

Real genius requires thousands of hours of potentially fruitless effort. Then the product of such efforts must be put through rigorous peer review and exposure in the marketplace of ideas. Let’s hope that the hype surrounding Jacob doesn’t suck the air away from his spark. Let us also hope that that the misconceptions expounded by his example do not smother the sparks of others. END

References
  1. Barnett, Kristine. 2013. The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius. New York: Random House.
  2. Ibid., xiii.
  3. Ibid., 210–211.
  4. Kingkade, Tyler. 12-Year-Old Indian Girl Neha Ramu Has Higher IQ Than Einstein, Hawking. The Huffington Post.
  5. Gleick. James. 1992. Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. New York: Vintage Books.
  6. Barnett, 192.
  7. Barnett, 198–199.
  8. McFeely, Dan. Genius at Work: 12 Year Old is Studying at IUPUI. March 20, 2011. The Indianapolis Star.
  9. Barnett, 188.
  10. Arum, Richard; Roksa, Josipa. 2011. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  11. Shermer, Michael. 2001. The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 263.
  12. Wilson, Edward O. 2013. “Great Scientist Does Not Equal Good at Math: E.O. Wilson Shares a Secret: Discoveries Emerge From Ideas, Not Number Crunching.” Wall Street Journal, April 5.
  13. Bloom, Harold. Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds. 2002. New York: Warner Books, 12.
  14. Gessen, Masha. 2009. Perfect Rigor: A Genius +The Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  15. Edwards, Chris. 2012. Teaching Genius: Redefining Education with Lessons from Science and Philosophy. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.
15 Comments »

15 Comments

  1. Bad Boy Scientist says:

    Although I am interested in many points made by Edwards – and, as an educator, debunking the notion of fixed intelligence is near and dear to my heart – I cannot help shake the feeling that the book being reviewed is a glorified Facebook post full of parental bragging and exaggeration.

    No disrespect to the reviewer, but isn’t this kinda like referring to Strunk & White and CMS to correct writing on a bathroom wall?

  2. R. Harkness says:

    It seems obvious that the claims made in this book are not factual and forthright but tailored for marketing purposes. Such is the state of affairs in the publishing industry.

    I take issue with comment #1: It cannot be debunked that intelligence is “fixed” insofar as it is primarily inborn. The popular notion–that one can be among the best in any skill or endeavor (including intelligence or IQ) through hard work and effort–was what Michael Shermer recently debunked in a column.

    In regard to this, Richard Feynman may have scored only 125 on a school IQ test, but he would have to be far more gifted than that to have so mastered his discipline and made the contributions he has. If that IQ score is factual, there must have been reasons for it–he didn’t try (maybe didn’t want to be regarded as “different,” etc.) or some other reason not disclosed (dyslexia, etc.). The greater your IQ (general intelligence), the faster and more deeply you can learn a subject that you apply yourself to.

    The difference between high IQ and genius depends on your definitions. Dr. Edwards appears to define genius as the unique accomplishments and contributions of a person with a highly gifted IQ. It should be emphasized that such genius and IQ level are directly related. Otherwise, Mozarts and Einsteins might be as common as corner drugstores.

  3. Confused reader says:

    Can somebody clarify “many in the public still falsely view intelligence—and especially “genius”—as an inborn trait rather than as the product of intense intellectual effort”?
    I though that intelligence (at least 50% or more) was an inborn trait. Is this wrong?

  4. Chris Edwards says:

    Lots of people have high IQ’s but fail to produce a work of genius. “Genius” is a term applied retroactively to someone after she has produced a work of genius. Intelligence might describe someone’s potential, but cannot a genius make.

    Geniuses tend to be people who study deeply in one field, find analogies and patterns there, and then superimpose those analogies and patterns onto another field. All too often; the scientific community requires that someone be able to stumble into a dual intellectual obsession, think in such a novel analogical way, and then translate these findings into abstract mathematical languages. These are too many conditions for fire, and I’ve argued in my other work that this random process of genius generation can be domesticated into a formal educational system.
    We’ve got to stop viewing “genius” as an abstract and almost mystical concept. Certain traits of intelligence almost certainly are inborn, but given the amount of study that it requires to produce a work of genius; it’s almost impossible to imagine something truly worthwhile being produced without thousands of hours of study and effort.

    My point is that the public’s false conception of genius is that the title itself can be granted to someone based on potential. However, we don’t know that someone had the potential to do something unless that person actually does it. Child geniuses do not exist.

  5. Rowena Kitchen says:

    I don’t think it has been proven yet that any particular IQ test actually measures global intelligence. There are various IQ tests that measure different kinds of intelligence and are scaled differently. So, if you have a high IQ in one test that measures one kind of intelligence, and a lower IQ in another test that measures something else entirely, what is your global IQ? What if you take the same IQ test a number of times throughout your life and due to emotions, illness, weather, or whatever other factors, you score an “average IQ” for one test and an “above average IQ” for another? What is your global IQ? If we must measure and discuss IQ, wouldn’t it be more useful to acknowledge that individuals potentially and, maybe practically, have multiple IQs? Whether IQ or IQs, IQ tests have not been proven predictors of genius.

    I’m glad there those who point out that a great deal of time, education and effort are critical components of genius. Few, if any, geniuses arrive there solely by their own brains and efforts. They incorporate the knowledge of the ages and have been assisted by parents, mentors, teachers and their peers.

  6. Bad Boy Scientist says:

    Many of us educators face a misconception held by our students that mental abilities cannot be improved (in contrast to physical abilities which most folks recognize can be improved with practice). The term ‘fixed intelligence’ refers to this misconception of how mental abilities work… perhaps fewer folks would have taken issue, if I had written “Fixed Mental Abilities”

    Students often draw conclusions about their mental abilities after a ‘first impression’ and then act is if that ability level is an immutable part of them – and their attitude about the impossibility of change severely affects success. E.g. Student who get ‘C’s on their first algebra quiz may wrongfully conclude they’re only capable of average work in algebra – and even define themselves as ‘C-students’. Once labelled a C-student, it is hard for many to break trough and improve their math skills. Too many people spend their entire lives thinking mental abilities aren’t malleable and dependent on practice – they are ‘foxed’ (Sorry for any errors – I just cannot spel ;)

    As I said, I agree with the reviewer on many of his points (although, I think the book he responded to was unworthy of the thoughtfulness of his review – and some of the ‘facts’ he took issue with were clearly “tailored for marketing purposes”).

    It bears repeating: a young ‘genius’ can be academically outperformed by an ‘average’ classmate (and surpassed by them over their life) just as a natural athlete in little league may be outperformed by a teammate who puts more effort into improving their skills. It is as silly to predict children winning Noble Prizes as it is to predict them winning World Series.

  7. Ahab says:

    “The equations were so long they spilled over from his gigantic whiteboard onto the windows of our home”

    Looks like someone has watched “A Beautiful Mind” one time too many.

  8. Bob Pease says:

    My experience is that Students self-identify as “Smart kids” or “Brains” well before Junior High.

    As the Department Chair is a Catholic High School in Denver in the 80′s
    I received a generic letter from Colorado State University that had been sent to many High Schools in the area

    The letter informed us of a list of students who had got “C” or better in Algebra II. Trig, And even Math Anal..
    Those on this list had failed their placement test for admission to the Mathematics Core starting at College Algebra and Trig.”
    They would be required to take Intro to College Algebra or Lower, usually losing at least a year in establishing even a Math Major or fulfilling the Math requirements for many degrees.

    The problem was, obviously, Inflated Grades in all except Pre-Calculus or AP or “Polynomial Calculus”

    In essence , the grades meant
    A …….. Barely adequate or beyond
    B ……… Minimal Knowledge
    C ……….. Incompetent but had good attendance and attitude and tried
    to do the homework
    D………….Rarely given …Attendence OK

    F………. Usually given to failing work, attitude and attendance

    This wasn’t helped by the Athletic Dept and Boosters Club to “Fudge” the eligibility
    slips or allow the Administration to “Guess” by an agreement with some teachers.

    CSU suggested that policies of “Grade Inflation” were widespread, but cause disappointment and career change plans for many students getting into College,
    or even at the Community College Level.

    I’m sure that this hasn’t changed much in 30 years in non-high-track
    Math Programs.

    On a positive note, The AP and high track Math are much superior that What I got in High School

    Bob Pease

    • another point of view says:

      Bob,
      If you were a department head, you are very careless with your editing. I would expect high school students to be better than that with reports.
      Example 1: in a Catholic High School, not is a Catholic High School.
      Example 2: are much superior to what I got in High School. not are much superior that What I got in High School

      • Bob Pease says:

        Two proofreading typos does not represent a “Formal Report”
        I be’ glad dat yew done red it atall as form seems tew trunp substance in yer weirld!!

        I will bet that I would score higher on a usage test than yew kud.

        Lighten up!!

        Dr Sidethink

  9. Rowena Kitchen says:

    Grade inflation does student and schools a grave disservice. Shoving students through one-size-fits-all classes and grades does also. A large proportion of students entering junior college or college are totally unprepared for college-level courses.

    If any of you haven’t read it yet, I suggest that you read “The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined” by Salman Khan, creator in 2006 of Khan Academy. It’s a 501(C)(3) that provides “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere”. The lessons are on YouTube. Over 260 million lessons have been accessed.

  10. Yellow says:

    I must admit, I do have a gripe with the claim that this boy’s work hasn’t been put to peer-review. In the book, it is mentioned that he has had an article published in Physical Review A, no mean feat for anyone. With a brief google search I was even able to find it, http://pra.aps.org/abstract/PRA/v84/i2/e024103 , “Origin of maximal symmetry breaking in even PT-symmetric lattices” Does it ‘prove’ he’s a genius, who knows? But I personally feel that to misrepresent that the claims made by the book rests only on an email from a Professor is not accurate.

    • Ahab says:

      The writer’s comments on lack of peer review concern an “original theory in the field of relativity” that the boy is supposedly working on, so the relevant question here is:
      Is this theory what the paper is about?
      Also, the paper you linked to has a co-author who is an associate professor at IU, something which makes one curious about the boy’s role in the work involved.

      While agreeing that co-authoring such a paper at all is “no mean feat for anyone” and that this article could’ve used a bit more research, it still remains that the amount of hype in the book is substantially non-trivial.

      • Yellow says:

        The co-author in that paper was Jacob Barnett’s supervisor, as mentioned in the book. And in some fields, though I can’t be sure that these apply to this field, the most famous author is listed first, or sometimes the scientist who funded the research is listed first, and in other fields it’s done by alphabetical order, and in some fields, the researcher who did the work is listed first. It depends on the conventions in that scientific field.
        As to whether he has done ‘original work in th field of relativity’, I do not think this is a judgment call that his mother, or Dr Edwards, or journalists, or anyone outside the field can make.
        The fact that Jacob Barnett is now doing a Masters at the University of Waterloo at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics probably means someone thinks he’s doing worthwhile work. http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/people/psi-student

  11. John H says:

    Yellow has caught something here. If Jacob made the PSI program, then the kid has some decent chops for his age. Absent this information his Mom comes off as seriously deluded, with it she just appears to be suffering from a common parental perspective problem.

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Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
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Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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