Expanding possibilities for showings of CODEBREAKER

I have earlier talked about the film CODEBREAKER, which is a film about the gifted mathematician and scientist Turing, who was responsible for breaking the Enigma Code.

After crowds enthusiastically raved about the film from coast-to-coast, TODPix is making it available in theaters around the country on December 6th. Using TODpix, a unique theater on-demand system, you can bring CODEBREAKER to your city by creating an event at a theater near you.

Here’s how you do it: Go to http://www.todpix.com/codebreaker.

If there’s a screening already set up for your city, go ahead and buy tickets! If you don’t see a screening yet, here’s what you do:

REQUEST A SCREENING: Click on the button, select your city and theater and we’ll immediately get the request. We’ll then set up the event for you and let you know as soon as it is ready to go.

RESERVE YOUR TICKETS: Once the event is set up, you can reserve your ticket(s).

GET THE WORD OUT: Now the fun part…let all of your friends and colleagues know about the screening and ask them to join you! They’ll in turn let their friends know and before you know it we have a crowd! Once 50 people have reserved tickets “It’s a go” and your event is booked!

They already have two events planned for Dec. 6th @ 7:30 pm at the AMC Empire 25 in NYC  and the AMC Loews Georgetown14 in Washington DC .  So if you live there and haven’t seen CODEBREAKER (or have seen it and want to see it again!) you can buy your tickets now. And please don’t forget to share with your friends

Book Review: Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength

After reading the last book on introversion which was a real disappointment, I ordered this book Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, which I enjoyed Immensely.

This book is written by psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD. and is a very enlightening book, not nearly as strident as quiet about the extroverts. It is actually surprising according to research by the developers of the Myers and Briggs personality test, that introverts may actually be slightly in the advantage. It may well be that over the last years the stigma associated with being an introvert is starting to lift. Being an introvert might be cool. In some ways there may be more introverts who are very social who you wouldn’t think are. Of course there are also the Shadow Dwellers, who can seem more asocial or people such as the goth teens, who may have been victims of abuse, which are she shadow in Jungian terminology. These people can also include your geek types.

She also refutes what people may mistake about introverts: We are not antisocial, but some may be asocial. The difference is substantial. A person who has an antisocial personality disorder is a person with real problems that don’t have positive outcomes. A person who is asocial may just not enjoy interacting with people much. Extroverts may think we are snobs, but is not nearly the truth, perhaps it’s just an incorrect interpretation.

For those who are not aware of Carl Jung’s Personality theory, the positive potential in introversion has been found in his work. Jung would suggest that we all have both introvert and extrovert aspects of our personality, how much of each is what matters. She suggests that being able to accept the opposite and try to use some of it is a good thing. Yes we need time alone to recover, and you don’t need to love parties, but putting yourself out there a little more can be to your advantage. The shadow in Jung’s work is the dark side that we don’t show in our personality, with the caveat that what we don’t accept and embrace may come out in a odd way.  an example of the shadow is you may have a person who seems kind, but turns out to be abusive.

She suggests our real power is in what’s inside us, in our inner world.  the majority of the book is focused on us, our strengths, and how to have a good life.


David Kennedy Polanco: Up and Coming Gifted Author

David Kennedy Polanco, who recently published the new collection of short stories Bellicose Boys was brought up in Boyle Heights (East-LA) California, wanted to become a writer since he was a child. David is Mexican-American with a pride in his Spanish heritage (a devotee of Octavio Paz), as well as his American Roots (his Grandfather was decorated numbers of times in World War II). As he has said, his ancestors were in California before it was a State. Growing up in the LA area, films were an important part of his experience, as were the characters he grew up with.

Early, David was the editor and co-founder of a Hollywood Fan magazine Remembrance which included interviews with many classic stars, including Gregory Peck and Katherine Hepburn. His favorite films include: The Letter and The Whales of August.

He is a gay man living in New York City since 1990, an animal advocate and avid football fan of (USC and Harvard) and enjoys reading classical literature and poetry. David started writing his first in 1985. Eventually this evolved into the Off Broadway play Fireworks! in which he introduced his unique character Harvard. Siouxsie and the Banshees has been an influence in his creativity.  This was later a screen play. He wrote, directed and acted in his second work A Playground Twist, which also appeared on Off Broadway, which is the story about the adolescent relationship between Harvard, the Gifted Gay adolescent/adult Mexican-American and his white love a high school football star who can never be open about his sexuality. Harvard of course is open and accepting courageous about himself. After they breakup, the football star dies in a foreign war.  It is a unique story which deals with, self-acceptance, athletes, and soldiers. His next work The Stranger Inside deals with the darker side of ourselves. His latest work is Bellicose Boys.

Musician: Morrissey

I am reminded frequently how intelligent, principled, the musician Morrissey is. Morissey (Steven Patrick Morrissey) first appeared in the English band The Smiths in the 1980s and is now a solo act.

He is a vegetarian, an outspoken advocate for animal rights and against child abuse. His Lyrics are very intelligent and thoughtful. In a smiths song “Meat is Murder” he makes an incredibly strong case against eating meat. He has a long career writing inspired songs and has a large following, including in the Latin community. In an interview where he was asked what political candidate he preferred, he declared he could not support either one, because all world leaders are bullies using force to change the world they live in. There is real truth here, considering what the American government has done in recent years, other dictators in Africa, the Nazis, Other European powers, including England, France, Spain in eras past.

Other songs of his, speak to how it feels to be a disaffected teenager, how it feels to be alone, the suffering of poor Mexican-American people, sexual minorities and others, powerless and helpless children, and others.

Although I admire his work, I have come to see less desirable aspects to this person. I also care about animal issues and can understand his frustration with workers in China producing goods brutally exploiting animals, Morrissey declared that they were subhuman, which is extremely racist. It also ignores the economic circumstances and the very poor in China who also have very little right.

Problems with Mental Health

A common problem for gifted people is that people in general often just don’t understand us.

This can become a real problem when gifted people realize they need help with mental health and reach out for help. The number of providers who are properly trained to work with gifted people and appropriately consider issues and challenges that gifted people face is very small. Even in a large city like New York, there are few providers who identify as having skilled with gifted people.

I was a student in a MS degree in Mental Health Counseling program, at a point when my awareness around issues of giftedness resurfaced after many years and became much clearer after reading an article in a professional publication. It became real clear in my reading for my classes, the lack of information around gifted issues in the mainstream professional journals. Most of the research is in articles that specialize in education, specifically gifted education, which are generally not read or referenced by people in the mental health field. Mental health training programs also don’t provide any training in working with gifted people. I would up not joining the field due to circumstances in the New York area and a field that wasn’t listening.

A gifted person with poorly trained people can wind up with a wrong diagnosis, incorrect treatment, and treatment that can really be harmful. Instead of helping the client with the issues of being gifted, they can wind up with very serious diagnoses like Bipolar Disorder or a personality disorder although this may be appropriate with some people, but may be more due to challenges dealing with life, that when addressed appropriately can be much more manageable. Trying to fit a round peg in a square hole is just disaster.

When interviewing professionals, raise giftedness as an issue. Ask how much experience the professional has. Check out how they respond. If you can’t find someone with experience, find someone who can listen and is willing to learn. If not, walk away, don’t become a victim.

Malcolm Gladwell: Arrogant and Insensitive.

First before I start, I want to say, before everyone jumps to his defense, Malcolm Gladwell is definitely gifted and I found his earlier books “The Tipping Point” and “What the Dog Saw” very interesting and though provoking, and this is not a full out attack on him or his writing. His books are often full of little interesting snippets of information.

His book “Outliers” is another story. I started reading it with interest, after reading the other books, but found myself turned off, not sure why but I knew something was wrong. I like his idea of the 10,000 hours needed to learn a skill and to get to a highly proficient level in any field, and there is something to say about it.

He writes a book, acting as an expert on education, though he has done no real research and has no advanced degree in education. It seems like his knowledge is more about sports, for example the time of year most hockey players were born. He wrote an interesting article in The New Yorker about the problem of professional football, which was excellent, but he is not an educator. I was listening to an interview by the radiolab guys.  Radiolab, a program produced by WNYC in New York, that is syndicated across public radio. I first heard them on The science show. They interviewed Gladwell talk about the interaction between destiny and determination. Robert Krulwich asked him whether he denied giftedness  or did he hate the gifted? I thought this was a good question and the book and his discussion does raise these questions. He argues that gifted education is about picking high achievers, which is most definitely not the case. Of course high achievers are among the gifted, but he totally dismisses the challenges that gifted children deal with, particularly those who are twice exceptional. I was a student before gifted education was established and I hated being in the wrong classes, being in boring classes, which were a torment. Maybe he also missed gifted education like myself and resents those who got it.

This book perpetuated and created idea that giftedness is a myth. For instance this article in New York Magazine, it’s all about testing and preparing your children for the test. But it ignores the reality of testing, and IQ and the New York system, where there are limited opportunities to get into the gifted system. Gifted children need to be engaged in school, and often don’t get those needs met in normal classes. This problem goes far beyond New York or any other location for that matter.

Another problem is that Gladwell references, old out of date material. Terman’s Termites was research done many years ago and is largely out-of-date with respect to current thinking about intelligence and giftedness. During its time, the research was good, but Terman started researching in 1929, many many years ago. He starts critiquing one of many intelligence tests. Many of the tests have issues, but he picks Raven’s Progressive Matrices  and not the more widely used Wescheler or Stanford Binet tests which are the standard, and most researched, used and understood tests. He misses what IQ measurement is about, i.e. mental processing power.

According to Eric Wargo, writer for The Observer, a publication of the association for psychological science, in an article  he wrote, Gladwell had a dream of becoming a gold medal runner, and suggests he was a Prodigy who didn’t wind up later going on to stardom. Clearly for him it’s about becoming a star, or observations, that graduates from gifted programs didn’t become superstars or become the next Einstein. The differences between those who become stars in sports and those who are purely amateurs is very different than about intelligence. Living with Being gifted and growing up gifted is not about stardom, but more trying to find your way in the world, trying to be able to fully use your abilities. Which I think goes to what Gladwell is more about Elitism, Stardom, how the few exceptions become who they are. Gifted people may become high achievers, but that’s not what it’s about. Just because you can’t  become a star don’t dump on us.

The multiple meanings of ‘Gifted’

We know how we use the term gifted and it’s meaning, but the term has been misused as in “She is a gifted artist.” While, a person may be a gifted singer, it does not follow that the person has the prerequisite IQ to be “Gifted.” Such a person may have talent, but may not necessarily be among the most talented. I think it can make it hard for people to talk a bout gifted people. Being gifted is not necessarily about artistic talent, though gifted people can be artistically talented. Try searching for gifted among for instance Twitter, or using the Web, and you can find these examples, and you learn more about these people and I do not wish to diminish or demean people, but this is not what I was searching for.

Simon Schama

I was watching Charlie Rose interview Simon Schama the other night. He was talking about American and World politics and I was wishing more people could hear and understand what he could tell us. I had listened earlier to him talking about the History of Britain and his talks on art. I am always taken by how thoughtful, intelligent, and articulate Schama is. He had taught at Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and is now a professor at Columbia University. If you are interested in History and Art History, he is someone to listen to. There were a number of videos done by PBS with his comentary and art and locations. I have found history fascinating, am knowledgeable about history, but hearing his History of Britain was a major experience. This is an interview  on PBS.

More Simon Schama Videos

More Recent Contributions to the Nature Vs Nurture debate

In more recent discussions, Daniel Shenk’s book “The Genius in All of Us” suggests that we all can be geniuses if we nurture children and have an optimum environment. This is an interesting argument and it’s become understood that environment influences  many outcomes including culture, behavior and intelligence. It’s an interesting response to the Bell Curve. One can clearly support the idea that children should be given a positive environment to grow up in. Lead and other toxins can lead to lowered intelligence and learning disorders, and nutrition is very important, lack of certain vitamins can lead to birth defects. I have seen many exceptions to this, people from questionable, and even problematical backgrounds who show brilliance. Why does this happen. I have also seen in this within large families, numbers of people with giftedness in those families. I doubt gifted people grow up in families with normal or sub-normal intelligence like the television show “Family Guy” would suggest. There may be many cases where giftedness is masked by other problems and one may hide their giftedness from others for fear of ostracism and rejection. I suspect that one’s ability can be enhanced by an enriched environment, but the real differences between gifted and non gifted people are unlikely to be the result of environment solely.

In another book by Steven Pinker, “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature” he reminds us how John Locke’s (1632-1704) idea Tabula Rasa, which suggests we are born a blank slate has permeated social science research and every day beliefs about what contributes to human development and behavior and the world in general. He suggests that we deny human nature. I doubt that we want to see this as an either/or type of situation, but we need to consider how influential Locke’s theory was.

Nature or Nuture: What Contributes to Giftedness

For centuries, theorists have debated what contributes to human behavior, is it how we are born or is it what we learn. John Locke (1632-1704) had a theory called Tabula Rasa or blank slate, which argued that nothing was innate and it was all learned. This perspective influenced social sciences for many years going forward. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) associated with the development of  genetics as a theory, spawned significant amount of research and theorizing about how genetics influenced human development, however it would be many years before human DNA was sequenced. During the Third Reich, Nazis murdered those with disabilities, those who were different, gay, Jewish, gypsies and communists thanks to beliefs in eugenics. The Nazis thought they were superior and many of the others were inferior racially. This is an example of how science can go terribly wrong.

Twins Studies have been considered the gold standard for considering if traits are genetically predetermined. Monozygotic (MZ) or identical twins share 100% of their DNA as they were from the same egg. Dizygotic (DZ) twins share less common DNA. Comparing identical twins living together and who were raised apart and the differences between MZ and DZ twins, helped develop estimates of heredity. In an article in a professional psychological journal Wendy Johnson, Eric Turkheimer, Irving I. Gottesman, and Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. authored “Beyond Heritability–Twin Studies in Behavioral Research” in which they suggested that time has come for abandoning twin studies in research into genetic influences. It has become clearer and clearer that environment poses many confounding variables in proving causation. As one would hear in a research class, “Correlation does not mean causation” that just because there is a relationship between two factors, does not mean that one causes the other. There can be many variables that could interfere or confound or cloud research into the relationship. Instead of arguing that A causes B, B could cause A or perhaps they interact. One of the realities that many of us are such a large mixture of various genes and influences that it is hard to know who’s who, and what I got from whom.

After much research, the current state of research suggests estimates of the heredity of Intelligence are in the vicinity of 50 to 80%. Current thinking suggests that genetics interacts with environment in terms of Genes x Environment rather than Genes + Environment. The interaction leads to genetic expression in terms of proteins and amino acids and others, which influence the outcome.

In another example of how science can go wrong (there are many examples), the book published in 1995, the Bell Curve by Harvard Psychologist Richard J. Hernstein and American Enterprise Institute political science researcher Henry Murray suggested that genetics contribute to far more than one would expect. Including African Americans are less intelligent than white people because of genetic differences. This smells a lot like Eugenics to me. This generated a lot of controversy and seems rather questionable. Another book from other scientists was published to refute those findings “Intelligence, Genes, and Success: Scientists Respond to THE BELL CURVE (Statistics for Social Science and Public Policy)” Edited By: Bernie Devlin, Stephen E. Fienberg, Daniel P. Resnick, and Kathryn Roeder. The American Psychological Association formed a task force and developed their official statement on the matter arguing that race, gender are  not correlated to intelligence, but intelligence is related to many factors and influences.