Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Education Medicine Idle News Science

The Real-Life Doogie Howser 303

An anonymous reader writes "Sho Yano this week will become the youngest student to get an M.D. from University of Chicago. He was reading at age 2, writing by 3, and composing music by his 5th birthday. He graduated from Loyola University in three years — summa cum laude, no less. When he entered U. of C.'s prestigious Pritzker School of Medicine at 12, it was into one of the school's most rigorous programs, where students get both their doctorate and medical degrees. Intelligence is not Yano's only gift — though according to a test he took at age 4, his IQ is too high to accurately measure and is easily above genius level. He is an accomplished pianist who has performed at Ravinia, and he has a black belt in tae kwon do. Classmates and faculty described him as 'sweet' and 'humble,' a hardworking, Bach-adoring, Greek literature-quoting student. And in his own words, 'I may not be the most outgoing person, but I do like to be around people.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Real-Life Doogie Howser

Comments Filter:
  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:49AM (#40209447) Homepage

    >Despite his gifts, success was not guaranteed. Several medical schools wanted no part of him because of maturity questions. Even at Pritzker, some faculty members worried they would be robbing him of a normal adolescence. On a college campus, he was a natural target for wisecracks. Some asked harsh questions about whether his mother was pushing him somewhere he didn't belong.

    Now Imagine if he had mutant powers...

  • much congratulations (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    always good to hear that someone is excelling at a young age like this kid. i just hope he doesnt feel like he missed on life experiences later in life. i cant imagine if prodigies feel that they missed out on college-keggers, or proms or things like that.

    • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:55AM (#40209515)

      Yeah, most of the best parts of college are not the classroom stuff at all. I feel sorry for people who miss out on that, as the social stuff is the one part of college you can't come back to 20 years later or even a few years earlier.

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:41PM (#40210921)

        Yeah, most of the best parts of college are not the classroom stuff at all. I feel sorry for people who miss out on that, as the social stuff is the one part of college you can't come back to 20 years later or even a few years earlier.

        That is so true -- and, in fact, I would say it applies much more to intellectual socialization than to things like frat parties and beer binges.

        The social aspect of college seems to have shifted over recent decades to encompass more and more non-academic things. (Many studies have shown that students 50 years ago spent a lot more time studying, etc.) But many of the most important aspects of my intellectual development happened in college due to conversations I could have with peers, whether it was stuff related directly to class or random philosophical debates with the guy next door at 3am.

        I imagine that it would be a lot harder for a pre-teen or young adolescent in a college to build up the kind of relationships with significantly older students that could result in such intellectual socialization.

        This is just a random theory, but I've wondered whether a lot of the awkwardness and "weirdness" we see in prodigies -- and their frequent inability to continue success at the same level as adults -- isn't just because of the lack of normal emotional social skills, but rather because they don't tend to work closely enough with peers at the appropriate level who are working through similar problems as they learn material (even if they are a decade older). Most very young prodigies tend to be taught by adults who often have things sort of "figured out" (or they think they do), but I feel like I learned the most from conversations with other peers in college who were actively trying to figure stuff on the same level... that exploration seems to be an essential skill in moving from the great "absorbing" and problem-solving skills most prodigies possess to the ability to do more creative and productive work as an adult.

        Or, to put it another way: eventually, there are no more math books with "challenge problems" in the back, and you need to have some sort of intellectual skills to figure out what to do after that, unless your greatest goal in life is to join MENSA and do puzzles all day. Having productive intellectual socialization with peers in college and graduate school seems, to me, to be one way you learn how to think about the sorts of problems the rest of the world might actually be interested in, once there are no more introverted "academic" challenges to complete.

    • always good to hear that someone is excelling at a young age like this kid. i just hope he doesnt feel like he missed on life experiences later in life. i cant imagine if prodigies feel that they missed out on college-keggers, or proms or things like that.

      Don't worry, he's 21 []

      Yeah, not quite doogie howser. I mean much respect, 21 is young, but I still feel a little let down, he's not a teenager graduating from medical school like doogie so he's no doogie howser so the /. post is very misleading

  • by rossjudson ( 97786 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:54AM (#40209511) Homepage

    Sounds like he's headed to spend the next five years as a pediatrician resident. What strikes me is this: After all the acceleration, does he end up simple having a professional career that's ten years longer than normal? Without some exceptional accomplishments along the way, it might not have been the best trade-off.

  • He'll go into obscurity for a few years. Then, out of the blue, he'll show up to help the real-life Harold and Kumar and then become a womanizer in NY on a real-life "How I Met Your Mother".

  • Not an easy life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:57AM (#40209533)

    My father was someone like that, IQ literally off the charts, used by the University of Chicago to help calibrate IQ tests for people with IQ's over 200. Multiple degrees for the sake of multiple degrees, the whole nine yards. Did his buddy's doctorate thesis for his PhD in an unrelated field just to help him out, and his buddy is now a leading expert in his field. People's expectations were off the charts with how they how wanted to exploit him. His own expectations of himself and others became unfathomably high.

    Had trouble his entire life connecting to normal people, even people of normal genius level intelligence had trouble relating with him. He thought so far ahead of everyone else that he even thought ahead of himself. When you spend so much time thinking past tomorrow you have trouble living for today. The result was this life was a mess and the practical details of his life were something that I often had to to take care of for him.

    Being a genius is an accident of birth, being a genius compared to other geniuses is arguably more of a curse than a gift. In the end the longer he lived the more he learned to dumb himself down when around others. It was a social survival skill. I do not envy the person in this article.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:04PM (#40209631)
      True genius is being way ahead of the crowd but still learning to blend in.
    • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      I couldn't agree more. Like life wasn't full of jerks already, a person like him will have to face them at a faster rate.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:21PM (#40209865)

      real geniuses produce breakthroughs in art, science and technology. paper geniuses collect academic credentials.

      so far all this kid has proved is that he has the academic game figured out.

      • by aintnostranger ( 1811098 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:31PM (#40209985)

        real geniuses produce breakthroughs in art, science and technology

        this. You nailed it. How is it that we rate someone as genius because of this degrees and IQ?? Does anyone care about Bach's IQ / degrees? Would we remember Newton if all he had were IQ and degrees?

        • by slew ( 2918 )

          Short answer: this is news.

          Long answer: News is "new". It isn't news whatever breathroughs in art, science that Bach or Newton did as it isnt' new. What is being reported on is the novelty of his early graduation, not a prediction of his potential future contributions to society or his IQ (which is merely background filler material for an article). Since his graduation is happening now and it's apparently noteworthy and new, therefore it "news". It wouldn't be news if you reported on his IQ after he took

    • Interesting quote from the article:

      But he'd much rather talk about his upcoming residency in pediatric neurology, which will dominate the next five years of his professional life. He became enamored of the field while doing a rotation at LaRabida Children's Hospital in Chicago, caring for patients with cerebral palsy, shaken baby syndrome and other ailments.

      "I really liked not just taking care of kids, but the way the whole team worked together - the medical team, the social workers, nutritionists, DCFS w

      • Actually, if you look at the statistics for lung cancer [] you'll see quite the opposite. 24.4% of male, heavy (5 cigarettes per day) smokers end up with lung cancer. I don't even equate 5 cigarettes as heavy, as just about everyone I've ever known who smoked, did at least 5 a day, and many did a whole pack (20-25) cigarettes a day. That doesn't even account for all the other bad things that smoking can give you. That's just a single disease. The signs at the checkout at the grocery store state that 1 in
      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        This kid will need two things for his output to match his promise. The first is the ability to cope, and the second is the opportunity to make a difference at some point. He can learn the skills to cope, but opportunity may be more difficult to come by.

    • Read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" if this kind of thing interests you.

  • by lemur3 ( 997863 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:57AM (#40209537)

    IF only the school systems in america werent structured how they are I imagine that we could have many folks finishing schooling much earlier than 18 and college a few years later..

    I know many students who were held back merely because they had to wait to go on to the next year.. at best put in an "advanced placement" course..

    we could easily have students graduating highschool at 14 or 15 ...if not sooner.. with the 'smart' ones beating that.. all of the time.. but.... it just doesnt seem to happen

    • by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <> on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:07PM (#40209667)

      I would agree with this, in sixth grade my reading skills were measured as 'beyond college' and my math skills were 'college level'. However my school had been reteaching me the same set of things for like four years and I was bored to tears. By the time I did go to college my love of learning had worn off and I didn't really care about pleasing teachers or scoring particularly high. I had already started working in my field though during high school, so I had some idea of what I planned to do. That alone is better than most people I see come to college as undeclared and then they ramble about taking random classes for the next 4 or 5 years.

      • Similar situation to me. By the time I was in 8th grade, my literature/reading instructor gave up and just sent me off to the library to write on Fridays when everyone else was doing reading comprehension instruction. Unfortunately, the school system didn't permit skipping grades without unanimous approval from teachers as well as parental consent, and my mother thought I'd be better off simply trying for one of the specialty magnet schools in town for high school. She was probably right, as far as socia
    • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:12PM (#40209737)

      This always struck me as odd. When I was in school it always felt to me like I could finish all the learning for each year in a couple of months if only I was allowed to do so. But instead I had to sit there while the teacher went over each thing a dozen times, and then reviewed it a dozen more. And you couldn't read ahead because you'd be told that the class hadn't got there yet. One of my friends in grade 7 gave up and taught himself calculus during math class, the teacher didn't dare stop him, but neither did he allow him to complete a single assignment or test before the requisite time, nor could he advance to the next grade early (despite the fact that he was already working himself 5-6 grades ahead of the class)
      And yet despite this you see stories like this from time to time where someone manages, despite the system, to come out ahead. Personally I want to know how they managed to get through the school system before the age of 18. The system which seems designed more to keep young people off the streets than it is to educate them.

      • I always felt the same way. I had an algebra 2 course that offered extra credit for work in the final two chapters, which we werent going to go over in class. This was supposed to be done throughout the semester, and turned in during the last week just in case you needed a few points. I turned in the entire section by the end of week 2, but the teacher never let me do anything interesting even after I showed initiative. I sat there while she literally read the book to us, and then got bad grades on homework

      • Personally I want to know how they managed to get through the school system before the age of 18. The system which seems designed more to keep young people off the streets than it is to educate them.

        They home schooled.

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:14PM (#40210563)

        And you couldn't read ahead because you'd be told that the class hadn't got there yet. One of my friends in grade 7 gave up and taught himself calculus during math class, the teacher didn't dare stop him, but neither did he allow him to complete a single assignment or test before the requisite time, nor could he advance to the next grade early (despite the fact that he was already working himself 5-6 grades ahead of the class)

        Our standard system is broken, since in the name of "socialization" we require students to stay with other kids at almost exactly the same age. (Of course, the fact that socialization skills and social maturity advances at vastly different rates in different kids doesn't seem to bother anyone, let alone the academic abilities.)

        Nevertheless, there are many strategies for students "stuck" in scenarios like that. In math classes, to take your example, I found working on the "extra exercises" and "challenge problems" to be a useful diversion, and teachers were generally happy to discuss them before/after class, since most teachers like motivated kids, and it's not a lot of extra work to look in their teacher's manual to see the solution.

        I found that most teachers were actually pretty accommodating and left me alone to do whatever I wanted to during class, once they realized I already knew the answers to most everything... it would have been more annoying and more disruptive to the class if I were trying to be actively engaged asking challenging questions or keeping other kids from offering answers.

        At some point the "challenge problems" became rather boring, so I started working on calculus some years ahead of time during math classes. I'd just bring the book and work on those problems myself while the class did whatever it was doing. When I started asking the teacher questions, he could answer some of them, but eventually he just referred me to the calculus teacher, who was quite helpful and met with me a few times to discuss some problems and concepts.

        I know quite a few people who had similar experiences -- the key for kids stuck in such a situation is to encourage them to keep doing their own independent work and not to be afraid of asking teachers about the stuff outside of normal class time. While some teachers were more helpful to me than others, I remember very few who didn't seem thrilled to discuss more advanced topics with me for a few minutes outside of class when they were free.

        And as someone who has gone on to teach, I can say that such students often are the best part of your day -- many times, they'll ask questions that will get you to think about stuff in new ways, even if it's dealing with very fundamental topics.

        There are really bad parts to our educational system, but someone with the right attitude and motivation can still end up arriving at college well ahead of the pack, even if a few years later than they might have in a more ideal world.

      • Shit, even college felt that way to me.

        Outside of my foreign language classes, there were maybe two or three courses that seemed to actually need all the time allotted them.

        Then there were the first year classes that were just a review of grades 7 (!!!) to 12. If I'd known better I'd have just tested out of them, but by the time I wised up it was too late for most of 'em. Didn't even occur to me beforehand that non-remedial college courses might just be a review of junior high and high school material.

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        One of my friends in grade 7 gave up and taught himself calculus during math class

        LOL I did the exact same thing at the same age, picked up a calc book, started reading, liked it. Calc is believed to be exotic and complicated such that none of it can be learned until university, however 50% of it can be learned at a pretty low educational level. To learn 100% of calc requires the full preparation, but 50% is possible at a pretty early age. How hard is it to explain the geometric concept of a first, second, third, etc derivative to a reasonably bright gradeschool kid? The limit defini

      • You should be at 5 insightful right now.

        I was like that and now my son is like that (tuned out of class, far ahead of our peers in knowledge and understanding). I gave him some college level tests and he actually did better than me on one of them. Needless to say, he passed all of them. I can NOT get my son accelerated. They just want to fail him and hold him back because he has completely tuned out because of how painfully repetitive and stupid it all is. I have tried turning it into a self-discipline game

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:08PM (#40210493)

      You would need special schools and to set up qualifications to get into them and remain in them. This appears to be unacceptable in an egalitarian society and it is doubly unacceptable in one filled with jealousy and people who want their kids to be seen as "smart". Since rich people have the ability to buy their way in, where other parents do not, you end up with high end schools with a certain number of kids whose parents are simply rich, and this only makes the egalitarian sorts even more against separate schooling.

      The public school system is not there to teach geniuses, it's there to provide a basic standard of education to everyone. Perhaps we should let the smart kids out sooner, but again it becomes a matter of jealousy and things like that. Do not underestimate the deadening effect of "democratic values" on certain things.

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        But to the smart kids, it feels like a punishment. Not just 'feels', you actually make them waste years of their life. Is that just ?
    • by eth1 ( 94901 )


      The whole grade-level system needs to be thrown out. A better system would be to have a year-round trimester, with courses designed to cover material quickly and be taken twice by most people. The quick studies will be out in one term, and some people might stay for three. You advance in each subject independent of the others (except where dependencies are involved, like physics needing calculus), and when your current instructor thinks you're ready for the next step.

      If you add in the ability for stu

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:05PM (#40209641)

    Perhaps you just don't hear about their childhoods after they've found success, but I always hear stories about these geniuses graduated X years early, but rarely about their professional accomplishments.

    • I graduated a year early. My work's generated millions of dollars and saved thousands of lives.

      You've also never heard of me, which is nice.

    • That's because in this day, hard work and dedication is almost distinguishable from intellect. I mentioned this in a post below, but I knew 3 people who graduated college at 17/18, and then went on to do nothing. I had very close interactions with one, and he was the laziest person I'd ever met... basically graduated college and figured he had proven himself, without realizing that's when then real work begins.
    • by hvm2hvm ( 1208954 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:32PM (#40210011) Homepage
      Maybe because they get employed by huge corporations and you only hear <INSERT CORPORATION NAME HERE> found the cure for cancer/designed a mind reading device/etc.
      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        Yes. Its all about resources. The smartest kids can do great things, but science has gotten to the point that it needs some very pricey tools to actually run experiments. Corporations are the only sorts who can afford those things, and they are going to be uninterested in making one of their researchers into some sort of prima donna unless they can avoid it, or profit off of it.

  • by trenien ( 974611 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:06PM (#40209655)
    Am I the only one who thinks that such a genius is bound to make major leaps in whatever field he invests himself in?

    As such, the path he has chosen is good news for diseased children. However, humanity as a species isn't affected by those personnal tragedies he decided to focus on. On the other hand, there's a number of subjects in physics, genetics or even medecine that could have had a much wider impact.

    Yes, I'm aware such a way of thinking classifies into the cold-hearted bastards category.

    • by tanujt ( 1909206 )
      I see the point, though where do you propose to draw the line in deciding what's best for a person to do in the interests of humanity?
    • by bosef1 ( 208943 )

      I understand your comment. But think of it like this: children get sick with a lot of the same diseases adults get. What if this guy says, "You know what, on my weekends, after my round of banging supermodels after blowing their clothes off with my mind, I'm going to kick cancer's ass. 'Cause what pisses me off more than anything is to have to tell a seven-year-old they probably aren't going to make it to nine." Or what if he comes up with a new surgical procedure that makes it easier to fix some congen

    • What he's shown so far - and admirably well, evidently - is that he can master what's already known. We have no idea what he can come up with on his own. No slagging on the kid, but, at this point, he's just a walking bio-encyclopedia: he has facts, but we don't know if he has "wisdom." The ability to store all of those bits of information does not directly correlate into the ability to make something from them. We'll have to wait and see how he does.
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      He will only work to his full potential in fields that interest him. Insofar as that may well be a waste of time, it is a shame, but I don't think there is much that anyone can do about it. He is not going to make breakthroughs in a field that bores him or he feels nothing for.

      When it comes down to it, there is no need for someone who is more efficient than two other people, because you can always hire two or three more people. What people like this are needed for is to make discoveries that are not simp

    • From TFA, he actually worked on both a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and cell biology as well as an M.D., so it is likely he will be working on research as well.
  • I'd almost prefer him go into music... none of my business of course... it's just that exceptional people probably do the most good doing something creative. Be that expanding our understanding in science or advancing something in one of the arts or inventing something in some form of engineering.

    He's a 21 year old kid that has spent a lot of his time hitting the books harder then anyone. And he can do whatever wants. The best of luck to him.

  • by Guidii ( 686867 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:09PM (#40209699) Homepage
    I hate having to RTFM just to find the one key point.
    Editors: Stop burying your leads!
  • Genius (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:11PM (#40209731)
    I don't know any genius level people, but I know 3 who were fast-tracked through high school and graduated very prestigious colleges at 17/18. They all went on to get PhDs, and they all failed out for the same reason: sometime during their PhD they wanted to try to re-live their youth as they should have, and began acting like teenagers again again. Drinking, partying, getting in trouble.... these guys were the smartest guys I knew, but each one, on their own, managed to derail their careers because they completely missed their youth.

    Not saying this kid is in any danger of going down the same path... maybe his massive intellect will divert him from temptation. But every time I hear about someone graduating college exceedingly young, I always wonder when their fuse is going to run out.
  • He will now be taking charge of a research program on the effects of alcohol on a brilliant young mind.

    • You think you're being funny, but we had a psychology professor at our university who got the university to fund his research project on the state of mind of a middle aged man sailing around the world. And yes, he was his own research subject, as he sailed around the world. No, I really don't think it's possible for someone to be introspective enough to write a scientific paper on their own state of mind.
  • and you can't put the age he's at now/getting the degree at into the summary? PFFT..

    Bad summary-

  • Where are the Alphas [] when you need them?

  • I'm reading now "Emotional Intelligence" and this book talks about how only the IQ is not the only key to success in life. There is also some information about how persons IQ-centric often lack some social skills
  • ... with experience and the inevitable cynicism that comes with it:

    Dr House.

  • How about a measurement at some point that matters?

    This just in: all children 6 months old are super geniuses! None of them can be accurately IQ tested!

    Do one now, find out that yes, he's very gifted with work ethic and otherwise he's pretty run of the mill smart. I'd be shocked if he was over 200, and floored if he was substantially over it.

  • Even Albert Einstein got a divorce. I think whatever gifts this young man has will be dogged and encumbered by being labeled a sideshow freak--even in the best possible way. Look at the biography of William Sidis. Even taking into account the myth-making of genius/madness, I see little benefit of being a prodigy, but I see a lot of attention addiction and other maladies that may choke out a fulfilled and happy life.
  • by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:07PM (#40210483)

    Davidson, who was on the same OB-GYN rotation, recalled the teenage Yano's reaction to witnessing his first birth. "He just looked at all of us and said, 'There's got to be a better way.'"

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.