Outside intelligence links
ISIR - International Society for Intelligence Research (worldwide society examining intelligence and IQ)
ISPE - International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (largest worldwide very high IQ society [1 in 1000])

Prodigy Research

EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ON CHILD PRODIGIES (EARLY, PRELIMINARY).  Vernon M Neppe MD, PhD, FRSSAf, DFAPA, BN&NP, DPM, MMed, Director, Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, Seattle, WA (Adj Full Professor, Dept of Psychiatry, St Louis University, St Louis, MO.;; 206 527 6289

This is a preliminary  model for genius. This requires far more research. 

Empirical Research study

This paper reports on a preliminary pilot study to evaluate intelligence at the higher ranges using a different technique, namely applying historical data about the accomplishments of child prodigies. Child prodigies were chosen because the extent of their advancements could relatively easily be compared with older age peers. (Advanced Prodigy)  Exceptional creativity was realized to be rare (Creative [Advanced] Prodigy).

Child  Prodigy criteria

The following two criteria were used:

1.    Profoundly advanced milestones as a child, not necessarily recognized then as prodigy behavior. This could include a subgroup that also exhibited profound creative achievement as a child (which skill / discovery/ invention could not be replicated even by adults trained in the area).

2.    Demonstrable achievement in adulthood. This generally related to exceptional accomplishment or education e.g. doctorate (or in young adults, a career leading in that direction). We excluded the prodigy subgroup who became limited achiever adults or even disabled. (High functioning in adulthood  AP and CAP),


Endpoint follow-up of prodigies to adulthood are trichotomous: This study uses only:

1, Successful, demonstrable adult achievement (excellent but not necessarily outstanding).  This study excludes two possibly more frequent child prodigy groups:

2.  Failure often with psychiatric illness

3.  Clearly there may be a grey area between without active psychopathology but no achievement.


Using analyses based on outside validated specific milestone achievements, with short vignette descriptions, the following questions required answering:
1, To develop a new method of determining exceptional intelligence based on key historical vignettes combined with outstanding general achievement in adulthood, and exceptional achievement in childhood.  This would produce a new “IQ” measure called the SCHIQ   (Standardized Corrected Historical IQ).
2.  To establish if there can be high inter-rater reliability with historical measures.
3, To establish what areas of the SCHIQ are most difficult to estimate particularly
a. Profoundly high IQ
b. Very early age achievement
c.  Number of vignettes required for improved inter-rater reliability
4 This would be a pilot study where data would be small enough not to apply rigid statistics.



Population for this research

An attempt was made to locate such rare prodigies by using high IQ societies (e.g., ISPE), as well as approaching very creatively accomplished adult outsiders known to the author, and asking about very advanced childhood behavior.

This initial pilot study involved only 7 subjects as true prodigies are rare, A total of 21 achievements were described during their childhood years (youngest, 6 months; oldest age 19) and their composite 7 adult achievements were also described. These achievements were each succinctly summarized in 2-4 lines (examples will be discussed). Generally, the individuals described these, but outside validating information, when available, was requested so as to ensure maximal accuracy.

Raters and ratings.

Three raters were carefully chosen. All had had major interest, personal involvement, knowledge and experience in the high IQ measurement domain, substantial knowledge in research or theory of intelligence, and were involved in evaluating high IQ individuals e.g. for admission to various high IQ groups. They ranked the estimated IQ score (standard deviation 15) for each of the 28 individual items described. Their mean IQ estimates of each item were used to compare interrater reliability though all raters recognized the need for an item IQ range.

Examples of Vignettes

Section A: Early childhood:  How would you score the following children?

____1. Aged  6 months, he unscrewed a loose plastic screw on his/her baby bed using his/her fingers and then screwed it back in. This task was apparently performed spontaneously and completely without any prior teaching.

____3. Aged 2 years 6 months, he could show on the map of the world country, major cities, major mountains, rivers (> hundred items)

____4.  Aged 3.5, he was able to tell the time perfectly to the second (analog watch). He had never been taught to tell the time, nor had he been formally shown how to read including arithmetical or roman digits. This was discovered accidentally by his father when somebody asked the time and the child responded.

__9. Aged 6 years old, he  both developed his own system of mental multiplication for any numbers under 100, and he would apply it by answering in at most 5 to 20 seconds depending on the item. He would multiplying any 2-digit  numbers together in his head with 100% accuracy. (A university mathematics graduate did not understand how he did it  until explained in some detail…apparently not otherwise ever been used for mental multiplication although algebraically sound, and almost no adults can replicate even the calculation feat.*

____10. Aged 6.5, he wrote a 80- 90 page on astronomy loaded with digits, tables and statistics, terminology and enormous detail, without error. He would study encyclopedias and all available books on the topic, and his knowledge in the area was regarded as encyclopedic…

* this is an illustration of creative prodigy behavior as it surpasses adult creativity.


Section B: Later childhood:

___11. Between ages of 5 and 8, he developed what he regarded as a “metalanguage” as he wanted to speak English but was not allowed to so would find English words in the other two languages he knew. (His parents were in a Japanese concentration camp and the English speakers were regarded as the enemy). He also began to study the stars in detail by looking up at the sky. Exposed to three languages in his early childhood by his family, and fluent in them.

____12. By age 7.5,  his reading age was regarded as that of a 15 year old, with reasonable comprehension. He learnt to read at 5.

___18. Aged 19, he gave a simultaneous chess exhibition to 60 chess club opponents: He won almost all the games. He had had no previous practice in any kind of simultaneous chess exhibition. Previously he had never lost at school at chess in his state. He had no formal chess lessons.


Section C: older adults.

____15. Theoretical physicist, internationally respected for his creative ideas despite not being formally educated in any   area (even by Nobel Laureates).

____16. Made major pioneering creative international contributions in nine completely different disciplines, including one impacting on millions of people; author reflecting five completely different disciplines; MD, PhD; recognized with numerous rare international awards… recruited internationally

____17. Graduated with highest honors in Bachelor's degree, with distinction in his Master's degree, and did his doctorate in German with distinction although he could not speak it previously, and developed a complex technology on the Internet that had not been solved in sixteen years.



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